15 Photos Depicting the Joy That is the First Weekend of Oktoberfest
The 182nd celebration kicked off on Saturday, September 19th and the party will keep on going until Sunday, October 4th. As expected, the first weekend was full of parades, incredible costumes, and frothing mugs of beer. Here's a look at the weekend's festivities, for those of us celebrating from afar.
Wiener Dog Races (and Other Amazing Competitions)
The festival has changed quite a bit since its original soiree. You may not spot a Dachshund race in Munich, but this is a staple for many other cities getting in on the fun. Other amazing contests you can find around the world: crossbow comepetitions and beer stein races.
Taking in Oktoberfest Off Hours
Oktoberfest waitresses prepare for the upcoming crowds in an empty beer hall. It's not everyday you get to see an empty beer hall during Oktoberfest—more than six million people (and growing!) make it out to the event every year.
The Parades of Oktoberfest
The inaugeral Oktoberfest parade is graced with many sounds and sights, but the most traditional of which may be the alphorn. The instrument was originally used by farmrs to communicate with nearby villages, as well as to calm down nervous cows awaiting to be milked. Today, you'll more likely hear them in German Oompah bands than in a barn.
Gingerbread Cookie Hearts
These heart-shaped cookies are a common sight at Oktoberfest. Folklore says that eating one of these cookies would add strength to whatever message was written on it. Common sentiments include: "Meiner Kuschelmaus" (my snuggle mouse), "Ich bin Single" (I am single), "Zauberbaer" (Magic Bear), and "Glueckspilz" (Lucky Toadstool), to name a few.
Tapping a Keg
Even if it didn't start out as a beer-focused event, the amount of brew consumed at this year's festival will fill three Olympic-sized pools.
Pretzels (with loads of mustard!) are an obvious complement to beer, but there are a few other must-trys at the festival: white sausage, fish, slow-roasted ox, rotisserie chicken, dampfnudle, and more.
Oktoberfest Carnival Rides
Tuesdays are family days at Oktoberfest, meaning all of the rides are offered at lowered prices for festival-goers.
The Beer of Oktoberfest
If you're drinking beer at Oktoberfest, it's from one of Munich's six breweries: Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbrau, or Lowenbrau. All brews must also follow the "purity law," called Reinheitsgebot. Enacted in 1516, the law states that the beer recipe must only include barlet, malt, yeast, and hops.
Fun for the Whole Family
Believe it or not, Oktoberfest is incredibly family-friendly. Carnival rides, carousels, parades, music, and roller coasters are only a few of the things kids can enjoy at the festival. That being said, all children under the age of six are kicked out of the beer tents once 8pm comes around.
Celebrities at Oktoberfest
You never know who you're going to see at Oktoberfest. This year, German singer Roberto Blanco made it out for the celebrations with his sister Antonia Staudt. There's one person you can count on not seeing: Paris Hilton. The star was banned from the fest in 2006 after attempting to market canned wine without Oktoberfest consent.
The Tapping of the Oktoberfest Keg
After the first keg is tapped, people race to get their hands on the festival's inaugeral brews. This can only be done after the master of ceremonies (aka the Munich mayor) yells, "O' zapft is'!" or "It's tapped!"
It wouldn't be Oktoberfest without a drinking contest. On average, 1.8 million gallons of beer are consumed by travelers from near and far. This particular drinker took to a table at the Hofbraehaus Beer Tent.
The Price of a Beer
Drinking at Oktoberfest isn't a cheap weekend activity. Last year, the average price for a mug was $13 for a liter—and whatever clothing you happened to spill it on in the sipping process.
Entry into all of the Oktoberfest beer tents in Munich is free—it's the actual beer that'll put a dent in your wallet. What that means: all the people watching and costume spotting you could ask without paying a penny.
Oktoberfest Beer Tents
All together, there are 32 beer tents—14 of which seat up to 10,000 people and 18 that accomodate a couple hundred at a time. The largest—and wildest—tent is the Hofbrau-Festzelt with room for more than 6,000 people inside and 3,000 outside.