The halls will be alive to the clink of glasses and sound of polka music! Oktoberfest has rolled around again. A time for binge beer drinking, when, those fateful words, "O'zapft is!" – "It's tapped!" uttered by the Mayor of Munich heralds the start to the festivities.
Despite the global economic gloom millions of people from around the world have decided to pour into Munich (and other parts of Bavaria, Germany) to take part in the world’s biggest beer guzzling party.
What began as a horse-race in 1810, with a bit of beer on the side, has turned into an annual bash lasting for as long as 16 or 17 days and become a Bavarian cultural thing. It has also become the inspiration for similar events in cities across the world.
You would be justified in being puzzled about the fact that Oktoberfest begins in September. It has a very practical reason. October can be rather cold in Germany with the possibility of snowfall. September is much nicer but the last weekend of the festival always ends on the first Sunday of October.
Just in case, you cannot figure out where the party is happening – head for Munich’s city centre. The festival is held in a large open field called Theresienwiese (meaning Therese’s meadow) occupied by several brightly coloured tents. The oldest, largest and central one is known as the Schottenhamel Tent where the traditional opening ceremony, which is the tapping of the Oktoberfest beer barrel, takes place. Another important tent is the Hippodrom.
The Oktoberfest is not just about downing beers, there is plenty of traditional food to be had. Here is a list of the dishes you can get your teeth into: Hendl (chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezeln (pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).
Besides the food (and beer) there are plenty of parades including the really impressive and colourful Costume and Riflemen’s Parade and the Gay Parade. There are also thrilling rides, Ferris wheels, roller coasters, plenty of music and yodelling!
While all this is going on you have to watch out for those youngsters who overestimate their capacity for the festival beer. The locals have a name for these types bierleiche – beer corpse! The beer served during Oktoberfest is at least 1 to 2 percent stronger than the usual fare.
Have a great time at the Oktoberfest in Munich!
Saturday : 21.09.13 11 a.m. A parade through Munich.
Saturday : 21.09.13 12 p.m. Tapping of the first Oktoberfest-beer-barrel by the Munich mayor in the Schottenhamel Tent.
Sunday : 22.09.13 10 a.m. Traditional costume parade through Munich.
Monday : 23.09.13 12.00 p.m. Oktoberfest tour for 1200 preschool children, invited by the City of Munich. Special lunch for senior citizens in the big tents.
Tuesday : 24.09.13 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Family day: all rides and performances cost less.
Thursday : 26.09.13 10 a.m. Traditional religious Oktoberfest mass in the Hippodrom tent.
Sunday : 29.09.13 11 a.m. Traditional concert of the Oktoberfest brass-bands around the Bavaria monument.
Tuesday : 01.10.13 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Family day: all rides and performances cost less.
Thursday : 03.10.13 12 p.m. Senior showman meeting in the Hippodrom tent.
Sunday : 06.10.13 12 p.m. Traditional gun-salute on the steps of the Bavaria monument.
Serving Hours in the Beer Tents:
Weekdays: 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Weekends and Holidays: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Daily Beer Tent Closing Time: 11:30 p.m.
Exception: "Käfer Wiesn-Schänke" and the "Wine Tent" stay open until 1:00 a.m.