Traditionally, the festival begins on the first Saturday after September 15th and ends on the first Sunday in October. If the first Sunday in October is October 1st or 2nd, then the festival is extended to October 3rd to include the German Reunification Day.
The festival in Munich consists of lots of beer and food, served in huge tents owned by different breweries, restaurants, and other establishments. There are bands playing tradtional Bavarian music, as well as modern bands in the evening hours that play rock, pop, and dance music. To keep with tradition, many visitors wear the tradtional clothes: Lederhosen for men; Dirndl dresses for women. Many amusement rides also provide visitors with additional excitement - these include a ferris wheel, roller coaster, and many other rides.
Oktoberfest in the U.S.
Each Oktoberfest celebration here in the U.S. is unique in that it offers its own schedule of entertainment, foods and beverages, and its own local flair. However, at most Oktoberfest celebrations, you will find live Bavarian style music (such as German brass and oompah bands), performed by either local bands or international touring groups. You will also find authentic German foods, many of which we have listed for you (right). You will also find beer from German, local, and/or American brewers.
In addition to the food, beer, and music, the Oktoberfests usually also offer their guests a variety of entertainment. This may include parades with colorful floats, marching bands, and celebrities. This may include beauty pageants, marathons, walks or runs, baking contests, arts and crafts, carnival rides, and children events. There many also be a marketplace where German-related goods can be purchased.
To find an Oktoberfest celebration in your area, use our Oktoberfest search feature above.
Oktoberfest BeerBeer is a major part of the Oktoberfest. In Munich, the breweries brew a special Oktoberfest beer (Wiesn Märzen) for the festival. This beer is slightly darker and stronger in taste and alcohol. The six Oktoberfest breweries are Spaten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu.
Oktoberfest celebrations here in the U.S. may incorporate Oktoberfest beers from Spaten, Paulaner, and/or Hofbräu. They may also offer a variety of German beers beyond just the Oktoberfest style. You will also find American beers, both local and national brands.
History of the Oktoberfest
Festivals held in October have long been a part of Bavarian history. October was the time that the Märzen-Beer was ready for consumption and this was a reason to celebrate.
However, the large Oktoberfest in Munich we know today dates back 200 years. On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) and Princess Theresa of Hildburghausen got married. To celebrate their wedding, the couple organized a huge horse race, which took place on October 17th. The horse race took place on a field within the city walls. The name of this field was later changed to Theresienwiese, meaning Theresa's field.
The Crown Prince was very interested in ancient Greece and told his subjects to fashion the horse race after the ancient Olympics. The idea was received with excitement, giving the original Oktoberfest a sporty atmosphere. The couple decided to repeat the horse race every year at the same time, much to the delight of Munich's residents. Thus began the tradition of the Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest Dessert - Spritzkuchen or German Crullers