Prost! Munich’s Giant Party
If you think that residents of Germany’s “beer capital” are delightfully jolly, eat heartily, and drink plenty (beginning with beer quaffed at breakfast) on a normal day, wait till you see them in party mode during Munich’s sixteen-day bonanza, Oktoberfest.
If this quintessentialy Bavarian festival celebrated in the company of lots and lots of boisterous strangers from around the world sounds like your idea of a grand time, book now! The place to be is the Theresienwiese meadow (named after Princess Theresa, whose betrothal to Crown Prince Ludwig in 1810 was the reason for the first-ever October celebration), where twelve huge tents—some holding up to 6,000 stein-hoisting drinkers each—are erected months in advance.
This is the annual culmination of the city’s love affair with the outdoors, and the last hurrah to the biergarten season. Oktoberfest opens with a colorful parade of 7000 participants that wends through the main streets of Munich to the fairgrounds.
Led by the steed-drawn beer wagons of Munich’s major breweries (Bavaria boasts more than one sixth of the world’s breweries), carriages follow with thirteen Bavarian big brass bands and hundreds of Oktoberfest waitresses in Bavarian costume.
The fairgrounds are so huge they become a city of their own, filled with refreshment stands, side shows, open-air concerts, shooting galleries, gut-churning thrill rides, and merry-go-rounds. To the sound of unending oompah music, some 6 million people consume 5 million liters of a special “Wies’n” beer brewed especially for the annual festival, 400,000 sausages, and 600,000 chickens.
Those who arrive outside of festival time can still spend a few delightful hours at Hofbrauhaus am Platzl. Since 1589, it has been Munich’s biggest and most beloved beerhouse, and the world’s most famous. No place for the faint-hearted, this cavernous tourist destination is eternal Oktoberfest.