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Oktoberfest – What Is It and What’s It All About?

Oktoberfest is something many people have probably heard about, they might have seen it on TV or read about it in a magazine or a book. You might have also attended an Oktoberfest like event in the past, but what is Oktoberfest it’s not all about beer and partying is it?

There’s no doubt that beer and drinking is a big part of Oktoberfest but that’s not all it’s about. The festival which is officially held in Munich, Bavaria, Germany is also a travelling funfair, these games and attractions are just as important as the beer.

While other countries do hold their own Oktoberfest style events it's usually more of a drinking festival and doesn’t go one for as long as the official Oktoberfest. Depending on the start date Oktoberfest can run for between 16 – 18 days, Oktoberfest always starts on the third Saturday of September and ends in the first week of October.

Only selected beers can be served at the official Oktoberfest festival, they have to be brewed within Munich and meet certain requirements. Currently, there are six official Oktoberfest beers but while beer is certainly the most celebrated drink it’s not the only drink on offer and the festival is not confined to just a few tents either.

The official Oktoberfest is much grander than many people realise, it covers a huge area and is packed with events from parades to horse racing. Around 6 million people on average visit Oktoberfest and many people travel to Munich to attend the festival.

Tents are an important part of Oktoberfest though as much of the festival's events are held in tents. Many of the tents also have names so people can tell them apart, for example, Marstall is one of the largest tents usually at the festival entrance and often plays host to musical acts. While Weinzelt is a tent that offers different wines and spirits.

The History Of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest certainly sounds like a fun time, doesn’t it? And the best thing about is that all tastes are accounted for, there's a great selection of food and while beer and other alcoholic drinks are no doubt the main attraction for many there’s also soft drinks, teas and coffees and alcohol-free drinks as well. It might take you a little longer to find those tents but they’re there.

But how did this festival start in the first place? Oktoberfest actually started out as a celebration of Bavarian agriculture and grew into official annual even in 1819. Oktoberfest went through many different forms during the following years and while it might not be too focused on Bavarian agriculture now the Bavarian associated is still intertwined with Oktoberfest.

The statue of Bavaria is still seen during the festival, the stronger focus on beer happened in 1887 when a number of local breweries took part in a parade to celebrate Oktoberfest. From then on larger pavilions were built to ensure the growing number of attendees could safely attend the festival.

During both world wars, Oktoberfest was cancelled and it officially restarted in 1949, from 1950 onwards Oktoberfest as always followed the same opening traditions. The ceremony starts with a 12-gun salute and the first keg of beer is then tapped. Following this, the Mayor will present the Minister-President of Bavaria with the first litre of beer.

It might not seem like it but Oktoberfest is a festival that the whole family can enjoy, in fact, the times of 9:00 am to 6:00 pm has been dubbed the quiet Oktoberfest, during this time music is played in tents only and more family based activities are carried out.

Because of the wide number of tents and size of Oktoberfest, all tastes are catered to, so it really is a festival for everyone. Oktoberfest celebrated 200 years in 2010 and given its popularity it will probably be around for 200 more.

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