It’s never too soon to talk about beer festivals, and there is none greater than the Munich, Germany’s Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest 2017 is a lot sooner than you think, with the anticipated festival beginning on September 16th (and lasting 19 days) through to October 3th.
We think now is a pretty solid time to begin planning your trip to Germany for this event, so let’s brush up on some interesting facts and traditions surrounding the world’s most famous beer festival…
Ready? Set… Beer!
1. It’s called October but starts on September
The name “Oktober” is misleading because most of the festival happens in September…
Fun fact: The event started in 1810 and at that time it took place during one week of October, but along the years it was extended and the starting date was changed to September because the weather is warmer and more pleasing, therefore it’s easier to attract more visitors to stay even longer and enjoy the beer (and festival) throughout the night.
2. Munich beer only
Oktoberfest is, above all, a celebration of Bavarian traditions, so the only beer you’ll find during the festival is brewed within the city limits of Munich. Only beers that fit this criteria are considered Oktoberfest Beers.
Fun fact: It’s considered one of the best beer in the world and according to the Bavarian Purity Requirements there are only 3 ingredients used in the brewing process: water, barley and hops.
3. It is a 204-year-old tradition that wasn’t originally a beer festival
The first Oktoberfest was held to honour the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in 1810. Now that’s what we call a wedding party!
Fun fact: The wedding party ended with a horse party.
4. They’ve cancelled it 24 times
You can’t stop beer pouring! In 200 years, Oktoberfest has only been cancelled 24 times. The causes were mostly due to the war and cholera epidemics.
5. Vomit-proof sneakers for Oktoberfest
With so much beer being consumed it’s obvious that some people might feel sick and end up puking… And that’s why Adidas recently released a limited edition of vomit-proof sneakers inspired by the Oktoberfest.
They’re priced at €199,95 with “Prost” stitched on the side and surprisingly they’re already sold out.
6. Locals call it “Wiesn”
It’s named after the Theresienwiese, which is the name of the land where it takes place, and it’s also named after Therese, the Princess that was married there. It’s pronounced as “Vizen”.
Fun fact: The “Oide Wiesn” is a part of the festival that features more traditional elements such as music, dancing and costumes, in contrast with other parts of the festival that are dedicated to beer and partying.
7. Nobody raises their mug until the Mayor says so
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.
Tip: On the 16th of September of 2017 at noon, the Mayor will tap the first keg of beer and the festival will (officially) start.
8. The hairier the hat, the wealthier the wearer
During Oktoberfest, traditional visitors wear Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte). The more tufts of goat hair on your hat, the wealthier you are considered to be. (Except nowadays the tufts are synthetic and everybody can look as wealthy or as poor as they like.)
9. Beer prices start at €9.70 / £8 / $11
It’s the price for one liter of beer… Not for those looking for a low budget festival.
Tip: Beer can be bought in the tents from 10AM to 10:30PM on weekdays, and from 9AM to 10:30PM during the weekend.
10. People drank 6.9 million litres of beer in 2014
The beer record was in 2011 when people drank 7.5 million litres!
Fun fact: In 1910 on it’s 100th birthday, 120,000 liters of beer were poured – that’s about 1,500 bathtubs worth of beer!
11. The beer is specially brewed for Oktoberfest and it’s extra strong
One mug of beer here is equivalent to 8 shots of Schnapps. They’re specially brewed for the festival and they have at least 6% alcohol.
12. As a result, it could be dangerous for some
Around 600-800 people suffer from alcohol poisoning each year.
13. There’s an on-site Red Cross tent
And it’s usually full! In 2013, at least 7,551 people needed medical attention and police were called 2,031 times.
14. There are 14 large beer hall tents
The most famous one is Schottenhamel because it’s where the mayor taps the first keg and the biggest one is Hofbräu-Festhalle which seats almost 11,000 people.
Fun fact: The “Hacker-Festhalle” tent will have a rock band playing everyday at 5:30PM to get the party started.
15. There’s a wine tent
Besides 15 different types wine there’s also champagne and sparkling wine in the Weinzelt – wine tent.
16. And food is everywhere
There are around 140 restaurants and food stands. Be sure to read our A to Z guide to Oktoberfest food.
Tip: Visit the Wirtshaus im Schichtl tent for meat and sausages from Herrmannsdorfer.
17. It closes between 11:30PM and midnight
Most locals head to after-parties.
Tip: The Oktoberfest 2017 will end on the 3rd of October, at 11:30PM.
18. But it opens between 9am and 10am
It’s actually family-friendly. Kind of like a state fair with more than 80 rides.
Tip: The Oktoberfest 2018 will take place between 22 September and 7 October.
19. Despite the international appeal, it’s still a surprisingly local affair
Only 19% of the visitors aren’t from Germany.
20. It’s always packed and it helps the economy
More than 6 million attend Oktoberfest annually and it employs around 12,000 people. It helps that it’s free to enter.
21. Einstein worked there
Albert Einstein, once worked as an electrician and helped to set up one of the beer tents in 1896.
22. Oktoberfest has its very own, pop-up post office
They send around 130,000 postcards and gifts every year.
23. Glass steins were late to the party
It wasn’t until 1892 that beer was served in glass mugs. They were traditionally made of stone, then they created them with metal but now they’re mostly made of glass.
24. Beer mugs are popular souvenirs
Guests love to take them home. In 2010, 130,000 beer mugs were confiscated and taken back to their tent owners.
Tip: The official Oktoberfest mug is available online and costs between 14€ and 11€, depending if you want the 1 liter or 0,5 liter mug.
25. Host at Oktoberfest
Whoever wants to open a food stall or tent has to wait up to 20 years.
26. “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”
This can be heard all the time at the Oktoberfest. But it’s not Bavarian, it was just invented by a musician (Bernhard Dittrich from Chemnitz).
27. Church and Oktoberfest
Sounds out of place? Well, they hold a mass Every first Thursday of the Oktoberfest in the Hippodrome tent.
28. It’s a surprisingly kid-friendly zone
The idea of bringing children to a massive beer festival might seem pretty far out, but the truth is that there are hundreds of children attend the festival every year. They have a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, games and traditional Bavarian parades.
29. “Honey, I might’ve lost the kids”
Seems like losing your offspring is a rather common side effect of beer drinking. Fear not, however, there is a lost and found children office on the premises.
30. Lost & found collects around 5,000 items each year
Lost and found possessions include wheelchairs, baby carriages, crutches and dogs (!). And they find a pair of teeth almost every year. Wedding rings also seem to get surprisingly loose during Oktoberfest.
31. Paris Hilton is permanently banned from Oktoberfest
She went to the event dressed in a golden and shiny Bavarian Drindl to promote a brand of canned wine. Locals got the organisers to ban her because they were offended by how she was dressed.