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Published on Oct 1, 2013 in Europe, Featured Articles, News

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair. It’s a 16 day festival held in Munich, Germany that runs from late September to the first Sunday in October. During this time more than 6.2 million people will attend this festival and consume over 7.5 million liters of beer.

Photo from www.theatlantic.com

Photo from www.theatlantic.com

Oktoberfest dates back to October 12, 1810 when Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. In celebration of this marriage the Bavarian royalty invited all the citizens of Munich to attend a celebration held in the fields in front of the city gates. In honor of the princess, these fields were named Theresienwiese or Therese’s meadow. This name eventually became shortened to Wies’n.

This initial celebration among locals became such a success that it was decided to repeat the festival in subsequent years. This gave rise to what we now know as Oktoberfest. The festival, over time, was extended to its current 16 days and was moved back to late September in order to take advantage of the more temperate weather. To German’s, the festival is referred to as die wiesn, after the name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese).

The Oktoberfest area comprises approximately 104 acres and consists of fourteen large tents and twenty smaller tents. These tents are only raised during the Oktoberfest and each tent has a unique atmosphere about it. Some, for example, may have their ceilings painted with blue skies and white clouds, some may serve gourmet foods, and some may have rock bands rather than a traditional brass or Bavarian Oompah band. Entry to the grounds, tents, and seating at the tables inside is free. Patrons are charged only for the food and drink they consume. Tents also take reservations, which are a necessity for even small groups wishing to sit together.

Here’s a sampling of some of the tents you can find at Oktoberfest:

The Schottenhamel Tent seats 10,000, serves Spaten beer, and is where most young people go to party.

The Hippodrom Tent is a colorful tent which also attracts a younger crowd and it’s where celebrities tend to hang out. It serves Sekt (champagne) and Spaten Franziskaner beer.

The Hofbrau Beer Tent, which is associated with Munich’s famous Hofbrauhaus, has a Bavarian Oompah band and many guests wearing traditional Bavarian costumes. Hofbrau beer is served and it’s usually the place most frequented by Americans.

The Braurosl Tent is still owned by the same family which ran this tent in 1901. It has Oompah bands, its own Bavarian yodeler, and serves Hacker Pschorr beer.

The Hacker Pschorr Beer Tent serves its own brand of beer and seats 10,000. It’s the tent which has the blue skies and white clods as well as traditional brass bands during the early part of the day, and a rock band in the evening for younger people who commonly get up on the wooden benches and dance.

The Kafer’s Wies’n-Schanke Tent is a small tent which only seats 3,000, and seems to attract the older crowd. It serves gourmet food, Paulaner beer, and is less hectic and quitter than other tents at the festival.

There is one very unusual tent at the Oktoberfest – The Wine Tent! Fifteen different types of wine and champagne are served along with Paulaner Weissbier. The Wine Tent also has an extensive menu with seafood and Thai delicacies included on its menu.

Alan Refkin

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