The largest folk festival in the world, Oktoberfest is often the first thing many people think of when they think of Germany or beer. Held for over 200 years, Oktoberfest is the late-September stomping grounds for millions of locals and visitors who come to revel in Bavarian culture and its most famous festival item: beer. Traditional Bavarian culture is evident throughout the festival, honored with cultural events such as a procession on the first day to traditional Oktoberfest food and drink and dress throughout the 16-day event to the festival’s closing on the last day. In this list, you’ll find everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Oktoberfest – especially useful if you’re planning to stomp around this year’s festival or next’s. Raise your glass and say “Prost!” with this list of 25 Oktoberfest Facts To Get Your Party On.
Though Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world, it’s not necessarily the weirdest. You’d have to go to other places around the world to find those, or you can just check out our 25 Most Insane Festivals From Around The World list. It’s fun to see some of the crazy ways people celebrate!
The History of Oktoberfest
Delving into the history of this great festival, the first Oktoberfest in Munich was held on October 12th, 1810, on the occasion of the marriage between Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. All of Munich’s residents were invited to the massive party which was held in a field on the city’s outskirts.
No wedding but still a party
Despite not having a royal wedding the following year, Munich’s locals were eager for another big party so they held their next massive gathering, much improved, with an agricultural show, children’s rides and amusements, and the beer stalls which later turned into the iconic tents. (A horse race was held at the end of the wedding in 1813 but was discontinued between then and the present day.)
The party never ends
Oktoberfest has run consecutively since its inception – barring 24 years when it was cancelled due to war or cholera epidemics.
Traditional Oktoberfest dress
The saying “Dress to impress” is rigorously followed by many Oktoberfest fanatics. Men are generally seen wearing lederhose (leather trousers/overalls) with a white shirt, knee-length socks, and traditional Haferl shoes. Women generally show up in a dirndl: a Bavarian woman’s dress made up of a bodice, blouse, and skirt with apron.
Oktoberfest isn't actually German, not entirely
Though most people see Oktoberfest as the embodiment of all things German, it actually only represents a smaller slice of culture, that of the southeastern state of Bavaria (Bayern, in German, like the soccer team Bayern Munich). Other states have their own folk festivals though they’re less well-known than Oktoberfest. If you’re keen to visit one, check out Freimarkt in Bremen or Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart.