Oktoberfest, The World’s Largest Party

The History of Oktoberfest

In 1810, Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese were married in Munich, Germany. They invited all the residents of the city to a celebration in the fields outside of town. It lasted five days and concluded with a horse race. Oktoberfest was born. Over the years, they added the agricultural harvest as a boost to the area. However, the popular attraction was by far the horse races. Unfortunately, the races are long gone. Today the beer, food and rides attract the six million visitors each year. Oktoberfest starts on the third Saturday of September and runs for 16 days. The Mayor taps the first barrel at 12 noon, followed by a parade and a lot of local hoopla.

The Scene

To understand the event, you must picture an area the size of 50 football fields with more than a dozen circus-size tents on it. There are fun houses and roller coasters, beer and food stands, as well as coffee and wine tents. The smell of yeast and hops hover throughout. The giant Ferris wheel gives you a bird’s eye view and the five-loop roller coaster should be experienced before you engage in too much food or beer.

Enjoy the attractions throughout the day, grab a hearty German meal, and then head to the beer tents. Each of these huge tents seats more that 5,000 people. In addition, you must be seated to order a beer in most of them. Seat reservations go years in advance, so just look for an empty table and understand you may have to move. Very popular is the Hofbrau tent where you do not have to be seated to order a beer. Make nice with the locals and you may be invited to join one of large wooden tables full of Germans singing German songs.

Every tent is decorated differently and has some variety of a German oompah-pah band performing. Try to see a few of them. However, the later in the evening it gets the longer the lines become, so start early. Try a back door or kitchen entrance and play “dumb American” to avoid some of the long lines.

If You Go

Just about everything wraps-up around 11:30 p.m. and that gives you time to use the excellent public transportation system back to your home base. Accommodations fill-up fast, so book well in advance if you can. Try staying just outside Munich and take a train to get to and from the event. One full day should be enough (the next morning will really tell you). Then you should explore the other parts of Munich and the Bavaria region – a favorite part of Germany for many travelers.

Oktoberfest is one of those events everyone should attend at least once in their lifetime. It is free to get in to, but they will get you with high prices for the rides, food and drink. The good news is the beer is very strong (and very good) and you will not need too many to have a fun time at the worlds largest party. For more information please visit www.oktoberfest.de

For something closer to home, try the Rochester Mills Annual Autumn Festival, which runs September 22-24, 2011.

The event starts on Thursday, September 22, with a free “Rocktoberfest” concert in the tent from 6-10:00 p.m. with performances by local teens. A Ceremonial tapping of Rochester Mills Oktoberfest Seasonal Celebration Lager will take place inside the brewery at 7:00 p.m. with special guests Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett and Rochester Mayor Jeff Cuthbertson.

Friday and Saturday join thousands to enjoy the live Oompah and Polka music, Bavarian dancing and children’s activities taking place behind the brewery including carnival games, moonwalks, a climbing wall, pony rides, petting zoo, clowns, as well as balloon and tattoo artists for the kids. Visitors can participate in the sauerkraut-eating or stein-hoisting competitions. The festival tent is open from 5:00-11:00 p.m. on Friday and from 1:00-11:00 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults. Children 16 and under get in free. More information is available at www.beercos.com.

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at michael@rochestermedia.com.

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