Welcome to Autumn! The change of seasons in European countries is one of the most exciting moments to look forward to. After all, there are many celebrations and festivals when the seasons change. And today, we shall discuss one of the most famous autumn festivals, the Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest is, in fact, the largest beer festival. Almost 6 million tourists worldwide gathered to drink approximately 2 million gallons of beer in the 2 weeks event.
Are you a festival lover? Are you interested in the excitement of the party? We will give you 15 interesting facts about Oktoberfest that will surprise you. If you want to visit Germany to enjoy this event, you must read this article first!
1. Originally a Horse Racing Event
The fact that, in the beginning, Oktoberfest included a horse racing event will surprise you! Oktoberfest, or Wiesn, was part of a wedding celebration. It was the wedding of a Bavarian prince named Ludwig (who later became King Louis I) to his wife, Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, on October 12, 1810. A lively event was held to commemorate the big day.
The first festival happened on October 12, 1810, lasted for five days, then ended with a horse racing event held in an open area. The horse racing event is called Theresienwiese. The race was so successful and attracted the interest of many people that the royals decided to hold the event regularly. Then, the event incorporated the state’s agricultural exhibition event the following year.
It wasn’t until 1819 that beer was sold at this celebration. Until now, we can see the royal family raising their beer glasses, commemorating Oktoberfest. At the end of the 20th century, the booths later developed into large beer halls made of plywood. The room featured an indoor balcony and an orchestral stage. Nowadays, the Oktoberfest celebration is known for its vibrant beer festival.
2. Oktoberfest Starts in September
Here is another unique fact about the festive Oktoberfest festival! Although the name is “October,” it turns out that this event is primarily held in September.
The festival, which began in 1810, was originally only for one week in October. But in the following years, the event became 16-18 days long. The date of the event started in September because of the warmer weather. It is more pleasant. Surely it will be easier to attract more visitors to stay longer and enjoy a beer all night.
3. Oktoberfest Won’t Start Until the Mayor Says “O’zapft Is”
At this festival, everyone will get a free beer! However, people cannot drink as they please. To witness the opening of this celebration, visitors must be in one place, namely the Schottenhamel tent.
Here visitors will experience the Bavarian tradition. In fact, the mayor of Munich will have the honor of symbolically opening the festival. By tapping the first barrel of Oktoberfest beer during the day while shouting O’ zapft, the Oktoberfest officially begins. After the first beer keg is opened, everyone can get their beer and have fun.
4. Only Allowed to Serve Beer From 6 Beer Companies in Bavaria
Oktoberfest is a celebration of a unique Bavarian tradition. Therefore, only beer produced within Munich’s city limits can be served at the event. So not all beer brands are at this festival. Only beers that fit the criteria determined by the government will have permission to be in the Oktoberfest Beer.
Weeks before the start of Oktoberfest, the brewery serves freshly made Wiesn beer. There are only six breweries in the state capital which have permits to serve beer in Wiesn beer cups. These include: Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Augustiner-Bräu, Paulaner, Lowenbräu, Staatliches Hofbräu-München, Spatenbräu
5. Starting From The Difficulty of Finding Clean Drinking Water!
Back then, the festival became so popular and crowded because of the scarcity of drinking water. It turns out that the Southern Bavarian region initially didn’t have a good clean water supply.
To avoid diseases from unclean water, its citizens look for alternative drinks to release thirst. Beer has become an alternative drink chosen by its citizens.
6. Beer Oktoberfest Special Mug
At The Oktoberfest celebration, the festival uses a unique mug. A typical Oktoberfest mug contains a liter of “Festbier,” a special drink made for Oktoberfest by several select factories in the Munich vicinity.
Experienced waiters can fill one mug in 1.5 seconds! Oktoberfestbier is no ordinary beer, especially for those from the United States or Australia. German beer itself is relatively strong in taste and alcohol, but Oktoberfest beer is even stronger. It should contain between 5.8% to 6.4% alcohol.
As a result, during the Oktoberfest, you will find people falling asleep drunk on the roadside or in a special drunken tent. So don’t drink too much beer if you don’t want to end up on the streets.
7. The Most Beer Consumption In The World
It is a fact that Oktoberfest is the best beer-drinking festival! Not just for drinking beer, there is also a parade. The local breweries will show off their beer carts and floats along with people in folk costumes. Other entertainment includes games, amusement rides, music, and dance. Oktoberfest attracts more than six million people each year, many of them tourists.
But of course, the main event is a beer-drinking party. The glasses served at Oktoberfest are usually one liter in size with an alcohol content of 6%, higher than other beers. Last year, 6.4 million liters of beer were issued to enliven the celebrations. Total beer consumption during Oktoberfest was more than 75,800 hectolitres (about 2 million gallons) during the 2 weeks of the event.
This event has also been included in the Guinness book of records. Munich’s Oktoberfest of 2011 (17 September – 3 October 2011) was visited by 6.9 million people. They consumed a record 7.5 million liters (1.65 million UK gal; 1.98 million US gal) of beer. There were 35 beer tents which offered 105,000 seats on a site as large as 1,600 (double) tennis courts.
8. You are not allowed to ta the Mug Home
The Oktoberfest mug is an iconic item during the festivities. Some festival participants and customers always try to get free memorabilia, the official Oktoberfest beer mugs.
The one-liter glass is a souvenir that many people are looking for. But actually, the mug belongs to the owner of the hall or beer tent. If you want to take it, security guards will scold you. Before you leave the tent, you will be checked thoroughly. So don’t even try to steal it!
Security staff finds more than 100 thousand glasses almost taken home by visitors every year. Visitors carrying the mug can be charged with theft. You better be careful. If you want this mug, you can buy it at Oktoberfest locations.
9. Have Traditional Festival Clothes
Oktoberfest also has its own distinctive clothes. Have you ever seen it? Dirndl is the name of women’s traditional clothing from Southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and the Alpine regions of Italy.
The dirndl is a folk costume (in German – Tracht), and today is generally regarded as a traditional dress for women and girls in the Alps. It was developed during the 19th century, initially worn by Alpine farmers as workwear as they cleaned and worked on farms.
10. Have a Child-Friendly Festival Program and Other Shows to Enjoy
Oktoberfest is not just a liquor festival. In fact, music is an integral part of the festival. Each tent provides alcoholic beverages, and you get to enjoy the orchestra or brass band that plays a variety of modern hit songs. You can also hear the German Oompah classical music.
If visitors don’t like songs or dances, they can head to the Armbrustschützenzelt tent. It is a famous pavilion for locals and internationals alike. Here, visitors can drink Oktoberfest beer, devour pork, and practice archery skills in the annual arrow competition.
In addition, although this festival contains beer-drinking activities and is certainly not for children, this event over the past few years changed its image. Festival organizers have tried to distance the festival’s image as an alcoholic drinking place to be more family-friendly.
11. Super Tight Security
The high amount of alcohol consumed in Wiesn led to many fights and beatings. There was also theft and rape during Oktoberfest. It is unfortunate. So, every police officer on duty gave up their time for Oktoberfest.
Three hundred police officers are on duty at the local police station located in an underground building under Theresienwiese. In addition, more than 300 officers ensured that this mass event remained safe. Suppose you are planning to visit this episode of Bavarian madness. In that case, you should be aware of the dangers. After all, there will be thousands of drunk people all over the place.
12. Missing Items at Oktoberfest
With so many people getting drunk after drinking, it’s no surprise that the Lost and Found Oktoberfest office every year is filled with thousands of items left behind. Typical missing items include passports, wallets, mobile phones, bags, backpacks, and cameras.
There are also some strange findings, such as hearing aids, wedding rings, dentures, and pencil-shaped tombstones. In fact, there was a time when one of the beer sellers found 50,000 Euros in cash.
13. Paris Hilton Banned From Oktoberfest Forever
Paris Hilton appeared at the Oktoberfest festival wearing a typical Bavarian ‘dirndl,’ a traditional Oktoberfest dress.
The American socialite appeared in 2006, but at the event, Paris Hilton was promoting her own wine brand without any preliminary talks with Oktoberfest organizers. Therefore the public was furious, and she was kicked out of the festival and banned from attending again, forever!
14. It Has Been Canceled 26 Times
Throughout its history, Oktoberfest has suffered from occasional cancelation. In fact, in the last 200 years, Oktoberfest has been canceled 26 times. The reason is because of cholera outbreaks or war.
In 1813 the festival didn’t happen because of the Battle of Leipzig between several European countries against Napoleon. The cholera epidemic of 1854 and 1873 also forced the people to cancel this event.
Furthermore, in 1866 the festival was again canceled due to the Prussian War. In 1870 there was a Franco-Prussian War, and the festival didn’t occur. Because of World War I, from 1914 to 1918, there was no Oktoberfest at all.
There were more cancelations following the aftermath of that bloody war. And then, from 1939 to 1945, the German postponed the Oktoberfest again because of the Second World War. The latest cancelation took place in 2020 and 2021. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the folks didn’t organize Oktoberfest.
15. Have Movies Broadcast
Did you know that the Oktoberfest Festival has inspired a film? The most recent is the film Oktoberfest: Beer and Blood series. It came out in 2020, starring išel Matičević, Martina Gedeck, and Klaus Steinbacher. The film revolves around a middle-aged man immigrant in the city of Munich, Curt Prank.
The existence of Oktoberfest caught his attention. According to him, the event can become much grander and bring in more income for him. Therefore, he had the idea to build a tent that could fit 6,000 people. Many conflicts occur, spiked with romantic and tense scenes.
You can stream the film on Netflix, and it has received a pretty good rating. So are you interested in watching it after reading the facts about Oktoberfest?