Bavarian OktoberfestsWhat is Oktoberfest?
It’s that time of year again. Time to dig out the lederhosen and find a seat at one of those big, wooden tables. Ten years ago, it would have been almost unthinkable but these days almost every self-respecting Dutch city and village has a beer festival inspired by Oktoberfest. They’re rather unashamedly called the Oktoberfests. But what is Oktoberfest exactly? And how did it come into being?
Beer festival turns into a wedding festival
Beer festivals have been held throughout Germany for centuries and, to this day, every city with a brewery has its own beer festival. These festivals begin in March and end in late September. The most famous and largest beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest in Munich, started out this way too. The first official Oktoberfest took place in 1810 to celebrate the marriage between the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig and princess Thérèse von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
So that the common folk could participate in the festivities, the existing beer festival was held in a large meadow outside of Munich and expanded to include a carnival and other entertainment. This meadow is still known as the Theresienwiese. Real Müncheners never say they’re going to Oktoberfest: they call it going to die Wies’n. In 1810, the festival began on 12 October and lasted a just few days. A year later, when taking stock of last year’s event, they realised that the carnival had been a real hit, so that year the festival ran for longer and over time it became a 2-week event. The start date was pushed forwards to 20 September as the October evenings were rather chilly, and this meant the festival could end on the first Sunday in October.