Oktoberfest is a German Volksfest, or festival, held every year in Munich where people come from all over the World to celebrate and enjoy beer, games, and carnival rides.


On October 12, 1810, Prince Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Following the wedding citizens of Munich were invited to attend festivities on the fields in front of the city gates. These fields were re-named Theresienwiese (Theresa's Field) in honor of the princess. Today, known to citizens as Wiesn for short. The main event of the festivities was the horse races that marked the end of the 5 day events. Prince Ludwig was fascinated by ancient Greece so he modeled the horse races after the ancient Olympics.

The Following Year

In the year following the wedding, 1811, the decision was made to host another horse race around the same time as the previous year, marking the beginning of the Oktoberfest tradition. The Zentrallandwirtschaftsfest, or agricultural show, was also added this year. This event is to promote Bavarian agriculture with machinery and equipment, animal breeding, demonstrations of animals, and agricultural education shows. The Zentrallandwirtschaftsfest has been held every four years since.

⇒Although the horse races were the most popular event of the Oktoberfest, this event ended in 1960.

Expansion of the Oktoberfest

Contrary to popular belief, the Oktoberfest was not always a festival involving beer. It wasn't until 1818 that alcohol became allowed in the festival grounds, primarily, beer. Beer was first brought to the festival in the form of small, hand-crafted beer stands scattered throughout the area. This was also the first year that small carnival-type rides, such as a carousel and swings, were added to the fest. In 1896, beer stands were replaced by larger beer tents that are used to this day. Oktoberfest also grew in length. What started out as a 5 day celebration in the beginning of October turned into a 16-18 day long festival starting the third week in September and ending on the first Sunday in October. Although it is called Oktoberfest, the nicer weather in late September allows the fest to run more smoothly.

Oktoberfest Beer

Beer served at the Oktoberfest is called Märzen, darker and stronger than traditional beers. Before technology and advanced refrigeration techniques, this beer was brewed in March to allow it to age over the Summer so it would be ready by Oktoberfest. Beer served must be brewed according to the strict German standards called Reinheitsgebot. This means that only four ingredients are allowed: barley, hops, malt, and yeast. Beer is served by the Maß, a 1-liter glass mug.


Located above Theresienwiese is the Ruhmeshalle, or hall of fame, and Bavarian statue. Both were ordered to be built by Prince Ludwig I in the mid-19th century during his reign. The Ruhmeshalle was built to honor acclaimed Bavarians who were known for their political, science, and artistic accomplishments. The hall was designed by Leo von Klenze, an architect for the Prince. In front of the Ruhmeshalle stands the Bavarian statue, a female figure that is Bavaria's 'secular patron saint', and a lion. Modeled after ancient Roman style, the statue is made to represent Bavaria's strength and glory, designed by Ludwig Schwanthaler, a German sculptor.


Since the first Oktoberfest in 1810, the fest has been traditionally held every year with the exception of 24 cancellations due to various reasons. Although they still proclaimed 2010 as the 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest, 24 out of the 200 years were cancelled for the following reasons:

  • 1813- War against Napoleon
  • 1854- Cholera epidemic
  • 1866- War against Prussia
  • 1873- Cholera epidemic
  • 1914-1918- World War 1
  • 1919-1920- Recovery from war
  • 1923-1924- Hyperinflation in Germany
  • 1939-1945- World War 2
  • 1946-1948- Recovery from war


Bavarian central agricultural show and festival. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2012, from Expo database: http://www.expodatabase.com/tradeshow/ zlf-bavarian-central-agricultural-show-and-festival-1000.html

Oktoberfest. (2004). Retrieved October 24, 2012, from World languages and cultures- German website: http://www.vistawide.com/german/oktoberfest/oktoberfest.htm

Oktoberfest history. (2008). Retrieved October 24, 2012, from Destination Munich website: http://www.destination-munich.com/oktoberfest-history.html

Oktoberfest in Munich. (2012). Retrieved October 24, 2012, from German Language website: http://german.about.com/library/blbraeuche_sep.htm

Ruhmeshalle. (2012). Retrieved October 24, 2012, from A view on cities website: http://www.aviewoncities.com/munich/ruhmeshalle.htm

The history of Oktoberfest. (2010). Retrieved October 24, 2012, from OFEST.com website: http://www.ofest.com/history.html

The Oktoberfest Story. (2009). Retrieved October 24, 2012, from Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest website: http://www.oktoberfestoktoberfest.com/the-oktoberfest-story/

ger/101/2012/fall/jordan_n.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/25 23:23 by jmnarret
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