The Ins and Outs of Münchner Oktoberfest: 9/17/11 – 10/3/11

Ozapft is!

Thus announces the Lord Mayor of Munich every year to declare the very first beer keg tapped at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria. This year the opening ceremonies will commence tomorrow at noon in the Schottenhamel tent.

Here comes the bride -- Oktoberfest began as a royal wedding celebration in 1810. Image: Wikipedia Commons. Public domain image.

People from all over the world travel to Munich to have ein Maß Bier (a liter of beer) in one of the fourteen unique tents on the Wiesn (lawn). The Wiesn is short for Theresienwiese, where Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen celebrated her marraige to Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig on October 12, 1810.  Being royalty and heir apparent to the Bavarian throne, the two were what you’d call a celebrity couple, and they celebrated in style. They invited virtually all their subjects in Munich and environs, and the party lasted an entire week.

To take advantage of milder September weather, the festival was moved up in later years. Today the Oktoberfest runs from the next to last Saturday in September through the first Sunday in October. If, however, the first Sunday in October is the 1st or the 2nd, the festivities will go on through October 3, the official holiday commemorating Germany’s reunification.  This year, visitors get that extra day of festivities.

All of the many tents –14 large tents and several smaller ones — have a unique atmosphere. Don’t miss the Anstich (first tapping of the keg) in the Schottenhamel, the oldest among the tents. This is THE place to be among teens and tweens. At the entrance to the Wiesn you’ll find the Hippodrom, which is always crowded, not least because it is where today’s celebrities hang out.  The Hofbräuzelt, best known internationally and largest of the bunch, draws tourists from all over the world. The Hackerzelt draws people from Munich and environs, many of them in traditional garb, Dirndl und Lederhosen.  The Schützenfesthalle hosts championships of the traditional Bavarian shooting clubs. This is where you might catch a glimpse of Bavarian nobility.

The oldest tent at Oktoberfest: Schottenhamel. Image: Wikipedia Commons. Public domain image.

All tents serve traditional Bavarian fare.  Enjoy beer from local breweries; each of the tents serves a different kind of beer, so it might be worth trying to hit them all. Edible treats include hendl (chicken), schweinebraten (roast pork), schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), stecklerfisch (grilled fish on a stick), würstl (sausage), weißwurst (white sausage), brezn (pretzel), Knödl (dumplings), reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), sauerkraut and obatzda (spiced cheese spread).

There are many special events throughout the Oktoberfest, like the Grand Entry of the Brewers on the first Saturday, or the Costume and Rifleman Parade on the first Sunday.  Check out the official Oktoberfest website of the Stadt München. Prost!

Inside Hippodrom. Image: Wikipedia Commons. Public domain image.