Since its first run in 1810, Oktoberfest has grown to become the world’s largest Volksfest – aka beer festival and travelling funfair combined. Held annually in Munich, Germany, the festival runs for 16-18 days and attracts more than 6 million people each year. It’s a celebration of all things Bavarian and mixes up local tipples with music, dancing, food and traditional costumes and everything in between.
Now in its 184th year, the festival is bigger and better than ever, with other cities around the world also holding their own Oktoberfest celebrations to similar models of beer-filled fun. With the next one on the horizon, we thought we should treat you to some fun facts.
1. It started out as a wedding reception
When King Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (quite the mouthful!) on October 12, 1810, the citizens of Munich were invited to join the festivities. The event was such a success that the couple decided to make it an annual knees-up. Rather than a funfair however, the first few Oktoberfests kept visitors entertained with horse races instead.
2. It isn’t held in October
Given its name, one would assume that this epic drinking event would take place in October, but of course you’d be wrong. Organisers decided to shift it to the preceding month so visitors could enjoy the warmer weather.
Up until 1994, Oktoberfest would always run for 16 days with the last day being the first Sunday in October. However, the unification of Germany was such a significant moment in history that organisers decided to ensure the festival ran over Unification Day so people could mark the occasion. Hence the festival sometimes running to 17 or 18 days in duration.
3. It’s environmentally friendly
It may come as a surprise that a festival of such proportion could in fact be kind to the earth. But Oktoberfest has managed it, first achieving the Environmental Oscar back in 1997. Year on year the festival commits to reducing its carbon footprint and upping its game of reuse, reduce and recycle. Even the mammoth fairground rides run on hydropower and bicycle taxis transport tipsy punters around the site.
4. Munich beer only
In keeping with the festival’s true origins of celebrating Bavarian culture, every drop of beer served must be brewed within the city limits of Munich. That may sound fair game, but Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world, and last year saw the consumption of nearly 7 million litres of beer – that’s more than 12 million pints!