Everything You Need to Know About Oktoberfest | INQUIRER.net USA

Everything You Need to Know About Oktoberfest

/ 09:23 AM September 16, 2022

Imagine a festival full of free-flowing beer and all-you-can-eat pretzels. That happens every year in Germany as people celebrate Oktoberfest. You may have a version of it in your country!

The booze and snacks are fun, but we should look back at the rich tradition behind the merriment. As a result, we could further appreciate this annual German culture.

This article will discuss how Oktoberfest started as a yearly tradition. Also, we will explain how it became popular and what to expect when attending it.

What is Oktoberfest?

This is the entrance to Oktoberfest.

Photo Credit: www.trip.com

The city of Munich in Germany celebrates Oktoberfest yearly. People come to drink at beer tents and eat pretzels and other snacks. It is a packed event, with six million people flocking to the 100-acre venue.

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The festival features live brass bands that perform classical German music and modern songs. Also, it has carnival games and rides like Ferris wheels and carousels. 

How did Oktoberfest become a tradition?

This represents what is Oktoberfest.

Photo Credit: indianexpress.com

The festival has been around for over 200 years, starting on October 17, 1810. Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen and Bavarian King Ludwig I were celebrating two occasions.

First, it was their wedding day. Second, their kingdom recently stopped a rebellion in a nearby county. Oktoberfest was their way of instilling a sense of unity across the Bavarian state.


The celebration did not have that name back then. Instead, the two royals called it “Theresienwiese” in honor of the bride. The family invited roughly 40,000 citizens to join the festivities.

They gathered at the gates of Munich and celebrated for several days. On October 17, the festival concluded with horse races. The locals held the event the following year.

The Bavarian Agricultural Association thought Theresienwiese could promote farming achievements. In 1818, the festival began having carnival rides like the merry-go-round.


Four years later, the event opened its first chicken roastery or Wiesn. Nowadays, people eat roughly a million chickens at Oktoberfest. It does not have horse races anymore, but the fun and food remain.

Based on the name, you may expect the festival to occur every October. However, it now starts in September. In the 1890s, organizers changed the start date to catch milder weather. However, the festival reaches until early October, so the name Oktoberfest is still appropriate. 

How did Oktoberfest become popular?

This is Oktoberfest Cincinnati.

Photo Credit: www.citybeat.com

Besides Munich, other cities in Germany like Berlin, Hamburg, and Stuttgart celebrate Oktoberfest. Nowadays, it has become a significant tourist attraction in the country. 

However, other countries like the United States celebrate this occasion. The tradition spread via German Americans or immigrants. 

That is why some parts of the United States celebrate this German tradition. For example, the city of Cincinnati in Ohio started Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in 1976. Nowadays, it is one of the largest Oktoberfests in the US.

The American-style celebration has similarities to its German counterpart, such as the food and beer. Yet, it has unique traditions like a bratwurst-eating contest and a mass chicken dance. It also features a dachshund race called the “running of the wieners.”

The tradition also spread in some parts of Asia. For example, the San Miguel Corporation holds an Oktoberfest yearly. Like the German original, it involves pretzels and beer from the alcoholic beverage firm.

What are the drinks at Oktoberfest?

These are people having fun at a festival.

Photo Credit: www.nbcnews.com

Most people think of beer when this German culture comes to mind. After all, the original features 36 beer tents that serve drinks from six local breweries: 

  • Hacker Pschorr
  • Augustiner
  • Hofbräu
  • Löwenbräu
  • Paulaner
  • Spaten

They are the stars of Oktoberfest because they follow Germany’s beer purity law, Reinheitsgebot. It requires breweries to only use four ingredients for beer: water, hops, malt, and yeast.

That is why most of the beers served in Munich have light colors. A liter of beer costs around 10.70€ to 11.50€ or roughly $10.66 to $11.46. Believe it or not, people drink around seven million liters of beer during the event!

As mentioned, the US also celebrates Oktoberfest. Yet, it often involves dark-colored lagers. Contrary to popular belief, beer was not present in the first years of festivities.

The celebrations introduced beer and food stalls in 1818, eight years after its initial launch. Munich city officials took over management the following year, adding more activities to the festival.

They included events like agricultural shows, parades, and carousels. Moreover, the beer stands turned into larger tents to better accommodate the demand for alcoholic beverages.

What are the foods in Oktoberfest?

These are Oktoberfest foods.

Photo Credit: www.timeout.com

Attend one yourself, and you will find tents that serve dumplings, cheese, pastries, and venison (deer meat). One of the most notable tents is the Hacker-Festhalle which can accommodate roughly 9,000 people.

It serves meat from a family-owned butchery, sausages, pretzels, and cheese. Moreover, it has a cafe tent with its proprietary bakery and a beer tent well-known for its potato salad and suckling pig.

Like beer, food did not become a staple of Oktoberfest until after several years. For example, bratwurst first appeared in Oktoberfest food stalls in 1881. Later, electricity powered the celebration, which supercharged the tents and beer halls into larger ones.

They gained more space and a chance to develop unique menus. As a result, they eventually served dumplings, roast meats, and pretzels. The same is true for Oktoberfest in other parts of the world.

For example, the US Oktoberfest offers a classic German menu, including sauerkraut balls, potato salad, strudel, and soft pretzels. Also, you may find less common selections like jumbo pickles, pickled pig feet, and cream puffs.

How to attend Oktoberfest

This represents what is Oktoberfest.

Photo Credit: www.lonelyplanet.com

Germany is finally resuming Oktoberfest after two years of the COVID pandemic. As of June 11, 2022, its Federal Foreign Office lifted entry restrictions for foreigners, with a few exceptions.

First, people from “areas of variant of concern” need proof of vaccination and testing. Second, visitors from the People’s Republic of China must provide an important reason to enter the country.

Aside from these caveats, you can enter Germany without these requirements. You can easily reach Munich using the main railway station called the Hauptbahnhof. Then, you may walk towards Theresienwiese, the Oktoberfest venue. 

Final thoughts

You might want to visit Oktoberfest for the holidays. Everyone needs a break after these few years! Make sure you bring enough money for the trip.

It is best to bring cash to the festival to ensure servers can accept your payment. Remember that your online payment apps do not work with most shops in Germany.

In other words, do not expect Cash App, Venmo, or Zelle to work in the country. Instead, prepare credit cards as backup payment methods. You may want to use ones that offer cash-back for every purchase.

Frequently asked questions

What are the common foods at Oktoberfest?

Expect to eat a lot of sausages and pretzels at Oktoberfest. If you attend the one in the United States, you may ask for vegan alternatives. Of course, you will drink lots of beer too.

Is Oktoberfest expensive?

Expect to spend quite a bit of money during the festivities. For example, most full meals cost 12€ to 20€, and beer usually costs 12€ to 13€. 

Should I go to Oktoberfest?

Going to Oktoberfest is worthwhile because it is a unique experience. According to experience tourists, you would need at least 70€ daily. Still, that amount depends on your preferences.

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