*Oktoberfest- “Thousands storm gates as Munich beer festival opens”
Tens of thousands of people were on hand at the start of Munich’s Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival. An hour ahead of the official opening, several tents had already closed their doors due to overcrowding.
Tens of thousands of people ran through the entrance of the Oktoberfest beer festival grounds on Saturday, racing to get a seat in one of the festival’s massive beer tents after organizers opened the gates in the Bavarian city of Munich.
An hour ahead of the official opening, several tents had already closed their doors due to overcrowding. Even those on the tents’ guest lists were not being admitted, organizers said.
Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter tapped the first keg on Saturday with two blows of a hammer and the cry of “O’zapft is” — “it’s tapped.” As tradition demands, he handed the first mug to the state’s premier, Markus Söder, and the pair drank to a peaceful festival.
O – O’zapft is!
That’s the Bavarian for: “It is tapped!” This phrase is what the mayor of Munich shouts out every year to mark the start of Oktoberfest – and of course that is after he has successfully hammered a tap into the very first keg of beer. This official act, performed in the Schottenhamel tent at midday on the first Saturday following the parade of the landlords, has an extra special significance in Bavaria: With an embarrassing degree of accuracy and – in the event of a poor performance – a small portion of schadenfreude, the crowds count the number of hits the mayor needs to tap into the keg. Mayor Thomas Wimmer, who started the tradition in September 1950, opened the first keg with 17 hits. The current record-holders, Christian Ude and his successor Dieter Reiter, managed it in just two blows.
What’s on offer at the Oktoberfest?
The 17 beer tents seat 120,000 people in total and serve beers produced specially for the Oktoberfest by Munich’s six major breweries (Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten and Staatliches Hofbräuhaus). The Oktoberfest beers have an original gravity of around 13 percent and are perfect for serving with traditional Bavarian delicacies such as roast chicken, radishes, “obatzda” (a specially garnished cream cheese), pork sausages and grilled, skewered fish. Another Oktoberfest specialty is ox meat roasted on a spit at the Ochsenbraterei. A total of 129 small and medium-sized catering businesses are there to ensure that every guest can eat, drink and be merry!
Beer prices in 2019: EUR 10.80 – EUR 11.80
(2018: EUR 10.70 – EUR 11.50)
Alcohol-free beer is available at the same prices.
Beer isn’t cheap
The number of visitors to Oktoberfest will likely be high this year, with around 6 million people from around the world expected at the festival before it ends on October 6. Attendance in 2018 increased by 14% compared to the previous year, with 6.3 million people attending the festival.
Even though it attracts millions of visitors every year, the beer isn’t cheap: One liter can cost up to €11.80 ($13). As in previous years, backpacks and large bags are banned for security reasons.
The first Oktoberfest, in 1810, was actually held in October. Although it’s still known as Oktoberfest, it now opens each year in September. The reason for that is Bavaria’s bad weather. It’s even been known to snow in October, which would be a problem for the festival. The world-famous beer celebration was moved up to September in 1904.
DO’S AND DON’TS AT THE OKTOBERFEST
Dancing – yes, please!
Having a beer in a tent is a must for every Wiesn visitor. Once you’re inside, you’ll be carried away by the music and the fun. People sway and dance. The rule is quite clear: on benches yes, but not on tables. Whoever tries to dance on a table risks being ordered out. And it would be a shame if the first visit to the Oktoberfest ended like this. So better to dance one level down on the bench
Let’s go to the 2019 Oktoberfest!
From September 21 to October 6, existing and would-be Oktoberfest fans have 16 days to enjoy the world’s largest folk festival. Like every year, this year’s event will officially open when Dieter Reiter, Mayor of Munich, exclaims “O’zapft is!” (“The barrel is tapped!”) after traditionally broaching the first keg of beer at noon on Saturday, September 21 in the Schottenhamel tent.
The Oktoberfest dates back to 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig – later King Ludwig I of Bavaria – married Princess Therese of Saxe- Hildburghausen, after whom the festival grounds are named. Today, locals affectionately refer to the Theresienwiese grounds simply as “the Wiesn”. Since 1810, this annual event has been canceled just 24 times – during wars and post-war periods, and due to cholera epidemics in 1854 and 1873. This year, fun and enjoyment will break out under the watchful gaze of the Bavaria statue for the 186th time when the rallying cry resounds: “Let’s go to the Oktoberfest!”
The Oktoberfest grounds
The festival grounds will this year occupy over 34.5 hectares of land, with licenses granted to 551 companies. Of these, 146 are caterers and 167 are fairground amusements. The remaining 231 include vendors and a number of service providers (such as the Oktoberfest post office). A total of about 13,000 people will be employed at the Oktoberfest.
The Oktoberfest is a City of Munich festival organized by local government’s Department of Labor and Economic Development. Responsibility for organizing and managing the event lies with Clemens Baumgärtner, who heads this department.
What’s new at the Oktoberfest in 2019?
Round and round we go again
167 rides, sideshows and amusements promise thrills and spills at the Oktoberfest. A unique mix of high-tech and nostalgia is typical of this world- famous event. Spectacular heavyweight rides such as the VR adventure ride “Dr. Archibald” and “Sky Fall” rub shoulders with traditional
Twists and turns galore line the 430-meter course of Ewald and Christina Schneider’s brand-new spinning coaster. The start alone is extraordinary: A booster lift catapults the cars up to a height of 13 meters at the top of the initial ascent. Yet despite dizzying top speeds of around 58 km/h, the ride in the spinning cars – each of which seats four people side by side – is suitable for families and is a whole lot of fun. The “Bayern Tower” reaches 90 meters into the skies over Bavaria like an outsize steel maypole. From the green garland atop the brand-new chairoplane, 16 two-seater chairs hang down like brightly-colored pennants, carrying passengers who enjoy views far and wide across the Free State – and are not afraid of heights! “Kinzler’s Pirare Island” provides fun and laughter for smaller Oktoberfest visitors aged six and over who can do family rides on their own – like in a “real” roller coaster for the grown-ups.
The more traditional rides are slightly more comfortable: Like the Krinoline carousel, for example, one of the oldest attractions at Oktoberfest. It has been spinning here for almost 100 years. Under the red and blue striped tent, which is decorated with strings of lights and Art Nouveau paintings, 16 charming pods spin slowly round and round – there’s zero risk of a headwind so ladies’ hair styles are sure to stay in place. It may also be the only carousel in the world where the background music is played live by a small brass band.
The Krinoline has been spinning here for almost 100 years. It may also be the only carousel in the world where the background music is played live by a small brass band.
The Toboggan is equally rich in tradition: Visitors to the Wiesn have been falling under its spell since 1933. Its principle is pretty simple: It’s just a big helter skelter. However, the detail here is the quick-spinning conveyor belt that riders have to scale to climb the tower. To do this, you need a good helping of coordination and balance.
As a result, the riders and their awkward attempts can provide entertainment for the crowds looking on with amusement. By the way, the name Toboggan stems from the Algonquin Indians in Canada and refers to a lightweight timber sled.
Another genuine classic is the Schichtl, a legendary whimsical cabaret theatre that has been part of Oktoberfest since 1869. The show has been “beheading” people with a guillotine since 1872. After the breathtaking spectacle, you can recover next door at the Schichtl beer tent under the motto “Party at Schichtl”!
*Connoisseur Magazine acknowledge the resources of Deutsche Welle and Munich Tourist Office in the preparation of this overview.