It’s never too soon to talk about beer festivals, and there is none greater than the Munich, Germany’s Oktoberfest! Oktoberfest 2015 is a lot sooner than you think, with the anticipated festival beginning on September 19th and lasting through to October 4th. We think now’s a pretty solid time to begin planning your trip to Germany for this event, but before that, let’s brush up on some interesting facts and traditions surrounding the world’s most famous beer fest.
1. It starts on September
The name is misleading because most of the festival happens in September!
2. Munich beer only
Oktoberfest is, above all, a celebration of Bavarian traditions, so the only beer you’ll find during the festival is brewed within the city limits of Munich. Only beers that fit this criteria are considered Oktoberfest Beers.
3. It is a 204-year-old tradition that wasn’t originally a beer festival
The first Oktoberfest was held to honour the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in 1810. Now that’s what we call a wedding party!
4. They’ve cancelled it 24 times
You can’t stop beer pouring! In 200 years, Oktoberfest has only been cancelled 24 times. The causes were mostly due to the war and cholera epidemics. On it’s 100th birthday, 120, 000 liters of beer were poured – that’s about 1, 500 bathtubs worth of beer!
6. Locals call it “Wiesn”
It’s named after the Theresienwiese, which is the name of the land where it takes place, and it’s also named after Therese, the Princess that was married there. It’s pronounced as “Vizen”.
7. Nobody raises their mug until the Mayor says so
Since 1950, the festival has only started after the official gun salute and the mayor shouting O’ zapft is! (“It’s tapped!”) and offering the first mug to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. Only after that, can the festival start.
8. The hairier the hat, the wealthier the wearer
During Oktoberfest, traditional visitors wear Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte). The more tufts of goat hair on your hat, the wealthier you are considered to be. (Except nowadays the tufts are synthetic and everybody can look as wealthy or as poor as they like.)
Oktoberfest beer has from 0.6 to 1.1% more alcohol and sugar than the average German beer, making it even easier for people to forget all their worries, their hats, their names…
9. Beer prices start at £7 / $11
Not for those looking for a low budget festival.
10. People drank 6.9 million litres of beer in 2014
The beer record was in 2011 when people drank 7.5 million litres!
11. The beer is specially brewed for Oktoberfest and it’s extra strong
One mug of beer here is equivalent to 8 shots of Schnapps. They’re specially brewed for the festival and they have at least 6% alcohol.
12. As a result, it could be dangerous for some
Around 600-800 people suffer from alcohol poisoning ever year.
13. There’s an on-site Red Cross tent
And it’s usually full! In 2013, at least 7, 551 people needed medical attention and police were called 2, 031 times.
14. There are 14 large beer hall tents
The most famous one is Schottenhamel because it’s where the mayor taps the first keg and the biggest one is Hofbräu-Festhalle which seats almost 11, 000 people.
15. There’s a wine tent
Most people in it are above 40!
17. It closes between 11:30pm and midnight
Most locals head to after-parties.
18. But it opens between 9am and 10am
It’s actually family-friendly. Kind of like a state fair with more than 80 rides.
19. Despite the international appeal, it’s still a surprisingly local affair
Only 19% of the visitors aren’t from Germany.
20. It’s always packed and it helps the economy
More than 6 million attend Oktoberfest annually and it employs around 12, 000 people.
21. Einstein worked there
Albert Einstein, once worked as an electrician and helped to set up one of the beer tents in 1896.
22. Oktoberfest has its very own, pop-up post office
They send around 130, 000 postcards and gifts every year.
23. Glass steins were late to the party
It wasn’t until 1892 that beer was served in glass mugs. They were traditionally made of stone, then they created them with metal but now they’re mostly made of glass.
24. Beer mugs are popular souvenirs
Guests love to take them home. In 2010, 130, 000 beer mugs were confiscated and taken back to their tent owners.
25. Host at Oktoberfest
Whoever wants to open a food stall or tent has to wait up to 20 years.
26. “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”
This can be heard all the time at the Oktoberfest. But it’s not Bavarian, it was just invented by a musician (Bernhard Dittrich from Chemnitz).
27. Church and Oktoberfest
Sounds out of place? Well, they hold a mass Every first Thursday of the Oktoberfest in the Hippodrome tent.
28. It’s a surprisingly kid-friendly zone
The idea of bringing children to a massive beer festival might seem pretty far out, but the truth is that there are hundreds of children attend the festival every year. They have a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, games and traditional Bavarian parades.
29. “Honey, I might’ve lost the kids”
Seems like losing your offspring is a rather common side effect of beer drinking. Fear not, however, there is a lost and found children office on the premises.