What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is a fall festival that traditionally starts in the third weekend in September and ends the first Sunday of October.

It began with a Royal Wedding on October 12th, 1810…
Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12th, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were renamed Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Fields”) to honor the new Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to “Wiesn”. Horse races in the presence of the royal family marked the close of the event that was celebrated by the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in subsequent years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest continues in 1811…
In 1811, an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest and at one time, the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.

More and more things to see and do…
In the first few decades, the choices of amusements were sparse. In 1818, the first carousel and two swings were set up. Visitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands, which grew rapidly in number. In 1896, the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls were set up by the enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries. The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fair. The range of carousels offered was already increasing rapidly in the 1870’s as the fairground trade continued to grow and develop in Germany.

For more information on Germany’s Oktoberfest, check it out at www.oktoberfest.de.