To some, Oktoberfest is German for “massive consumption of beer,” and while that’s part of the festival, it’s not the whole story. Beer, after all, is more than a drink for the residents of Munich, it’s a way of life, and integrated into the cultural fabric of the city. But prodigious beer drinking hasn’t always been the focus of the festival. To locals, it’s called “die Wiesn,” after the name of the Theresienwiese Fairgrounds. When founded in 1810, Oktoberfest celebrated the marriage of the Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe Hildburghausen with a horse race. The race featured prominently in the festivities until 1960, at which point the festival had become world famous and steeped in other traditions. It’s changed over the 200-year history, most significantly with the addition of bratwurst, electricity and glass beer steins.
The Munich Oktoberfest (Munich Beerfest) is one of the most famous events and the world’s largest fair. Approximately six million people attend each year, making it a significant aspect of Bavarian culture. The Munich Beerfest currently lasts for sixteen days, up to and including the first Sunday in October. Oktoberfest 2023 will take place from Saturday, September 17, through Tuesday, October 3, as is customary.
The event’s champions are beer, food, and music. Bavarian brass party bands provide the soundtrack that gets the festival tent occupants dancing on the beer-soaked tables. It’s not always a good idea to pair high-powered beer with greasy sausages while riding fast, but that’s exactly the plan here. An equal mix of high-tech and low-tech rides make the funfair exciting. Try the Tagada or another one of the dizzying, spinning, and flipping rides if you truly want to test your stomach’s limits.