10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Oktoberfest

Germany. Big crowds. Beer. Beer. And more beer!

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair, held annually in Munich, Germany. Although that’s the heart of Oktoberfest, it is celebrated all around the world. This year’s festivities began on September 21st and will end on October 6th.

But how much do you really KNOW about Oktoberfest? Here are some interesting facts about the most beer-centric celebration…Oh, and here’s a fun infographic worth checking out.

  1. The first Octoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese.  The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over five days on the fields in front of the city gates. 40,000 people were in attendance.
  2. Traditionally, the Munich Oktoberfest was held on the 16 days leading up to and including the first Sunday in October. Starting in 1994, the dates were modified for when the first Sunday in October falls on October 1 or 2. The festival will then conclude on October 3, German Unity Day.
  3. The beer served at Oktoberfest are sourced from six Munich’s breweries: Spaten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu.
  4. The beer is served in 1-liter glasses called a “mass,” German for measure.
  5. Since 1950, the festival has only started after the official gun salute and the mayor shouting O’ zapft is! (“It’s tapped!”) and offering the first mug to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. Only after that, can the festival start.
  6. Oktoberfest has been canceled 24 times, twice by cholera epidemics (1854 and 1873), once in 1870 for the Franco-Prussian war (causing thirsty Bavarians to carp that this Prussian conflict had nothing to do with them), and in the years during and after World War One and Two.
  7. In the beginning, beer was not available at the Oktoberfest. Alcohol could only be purchased and enjoyed outside of the actual venue. Authorities soon realized that it would make sense to open the Oktoberfest venue to vendors and it was only then that the traditional beerhalls became popular.
  8. In 1892, the first glass beer mug was introduced; before that stoneware was the norm.
  9. When you’re drinking big mugs of beer, you’ve got to eat. Last year, revelers in Munich put down 500,000 chickens, 120 oxen and thousands of big pretzels to soak up the beer. And that’s not mentioning all the other delicious German foods.
  10. Horse Races were held at the first Oktoberfest!  But by 1819, the race had been called off, replaced by beer carts and a carnival-like atmosphere. The leaders of Munich decided that Oktoberfest would be held each year, no exceptions.

Take a look at some photos from this year’s Oktoberfest in Munich!

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