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Wiesn-BedienungThe Oktoberfest in Munich is the world’s largest public festival. Every year it attracts between six and seven million visitors who drink between 50 to 60 hectolitres of beer, eat around half a million roast chickens (Or “Brathendl”) and 140,000 pairs of pork sausages (2006). The idea for this mammoth party originated from a non-commissioned officer of the Bavarian National Guard. The man suggested that celebrations lasting several days which surrounded the marriage of Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Hildburghausen in the year 1810 should be crowned by a great horse-race. King Max I. Joseph of Bavaria was keen on the idea and on the 17th of October 1810 in “Theresenwiese”, a meadow named after the bride, the race was organised.

Beer Tents since 1896

With that the Oktoberfest was born. Because it was so successful, the raucous festival was repeated the next year. For a few years, the festival, known to the people of Munich as “Wiesn” was a privately organised event. In 1819 the city elders (And with them the local tavern keepers) took over the event and under their direction the festival began to take on even greater dimensions. Soon the carousels and stall holders arrived. In 1881 the statue of ‘Bavaria’ was unveiled, which has watched over proceedings at the Oktoberfest ever since. In 1881 the first chicken roasting ovens were opened and the first large beer tent appeared in 1896.

“O’Zapft is’!” It’s tapped!

Since 1950 it has been traditional for the Mayor of Munich to open the first beer barrel with a hammer and announces the proclamation that the many thirsty guests have been waiting for: “O’Zapft is’!”, It’s tapped!. This year the ceremony will take place on Saturday the 20th of September at 12:00 midday. The next day, on the first Sunday of the festival, the traditional Costume and Rifleman’s Parade makes its way through Munich, culminating at the Theresenwiese and is one of the highpoints of the festival. Incidentally, this year, a Mass (One litre) of freshly poured, cool beer in a traditional mug will cost between €8.00 and €8.30.