One of the most famous festivals in Germany is the 16-day Oktoberfest that runs yearly from the latter part of the month of September to the first weekend of October. Every year, the event which the locals call, die Wiesn brings around six to seven million visitors to Munich, Bavaria in southern Germany. Everyone wants a piece of the action in what is considered as one of the largest food and drink events the world has ever known and perhaps the most popular beerfest today.
Food and drinks for all
This year, Oktoberfest in Germany begins on September 21, Saturday and ends on October 6, 2013, Sunday. The annual event in Munich has serves as the inspiration for Oktoberfest events held at around the same time in many countries around the world.
In Munich, about 7 million liters of beer are consumed along with traditional dishes. The most popular Oktoberfest beer companions are Sauerkraut, Würstl (sausage), Knödel (bread of potato dumplings), and Obatzda (spiced Bavarian cheese and butter spread). Other staple Oktoberfest food items are Schweinebraten or roast pork, Steckerlfisch or grilled fish on a stick, and Hendl or chicken.
Central to Bavarian culture
Bavarians refer to Oktoberfest as die Wiesn in reference to the fairgrounds near the center of Munich called Theresienwiese, or field of Therese, which is shortened to Wiesn. The festival was first held in 1810 and was essentially a wedding party in honor of the marriage of Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen of Bavaria to Crown Prince Ludwig.
Oktoberfest participants usually don Tirolerhüte or Bavarian hats which have goat hair décor. The wealth of the wearer is traditionally manifested in the amount of goat hair in the hat. These days, this is not a very accurate means of determining a person’s wealth since hats are mostly decorated with synthetic tufts and the amount of hair on the hat is a matter of personal preference.
Munich beer only
Since beer is the most important element of die Wiesn, only beer that’s been brewed in Munich is allowed during the festival days. It is perceived that the beer produced within the city limits of Munich is the only beer that is fit to drink.
Modern-day Oktoberfest events are ushered in officially by the Mayor and when the first mug is accepted by the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria, the fun starts. Bavaria is known to have the best beer in the world, made from the best ingredients and the process has been under strict regulations since the 16th century. It is no wonder that they celebrate their beerfest with only the best brew available.
Six breweries provide the beer for the festival. These are Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten, known collectively as the Big Six.
This year a liter of beer will probably range from €8.5 to €9.5. Beer is served on weekdays from 10 in the morning to about 10:30 in the evening. During the weekend, the tents selling beer are open from 9 in the morning and closes at 10:30 pm.