Each fall, crowds of partygoers at Munich’s Oktoberfest lift steins of golden beer skyward and bellow “Prosit!” The German holiday began more than 200 years ago at the marriage celebration of Bavarian Crown Prince Louis and Princess Therese. Many of the locally brewed beers served at today’s festivities are also rooted in history. Lagers such as Hacker-Pschorr’s Oktoberfest Märzen adhere to traditional Bavarian purity laws that allow only water, barley, yeast, and hops. Revelers fortify themselves with grilled bratwurst, salt-dusted pretzels, and roast chicken while they watch men dressed in lederhosen (leather shorts) twirl ladies to the oompah of brass bands. The holiday has become wildly popular outside Germany, but the largest celebration, which attracted more than 5 million attendees in 2011, still occurs on the original wedding fields in Munich, in late September and early October.
This appeared in the October 2012 issue.
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Inside Oktoberfest's Biggest Beer Tent
I never expected I'd be singing along to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack from a giant beer tent in Germany, but earlier this year that's exactly what happened.
Hours after arriving from the U.S., our group pushed through the crowds and past the carnival rides toward the huge white Hofbrauhaus beer tent. We were met with giant beer steins, roasted chickens, sausages and thousands of drunken Australians, New Zealanders, Europeans and Kansans, many of them wearing traditional lederhosen and drindls.
It was the Oktoberfest we had conjured up in our minds, with one tiny little difference - the music. We had failed to realize that American 80s music was such an integral part of the Oktoberfest soundtrack. We did, however, realize how lucky we were to have made it into this particular tent.
The famous Hofbrauhaus brewery tent is the biggest at Oktoberfest. Each year, it serves more than 500,000 liters of beer, 35,000 chickens and 8,500 sausages during the 16 days its open.
Reserve a spot or arrive early in the day, though. This is one party that fills up fast.
Endless night in Munich during Oktoberfest - Loud music, delicious food, people in customs and carnivals... The funny thing is that most of the carnival rides and games are either involved with heights and twist, or a lot of the focus - and people at the Oktoberfest are hardly sober!
Oktoberfest. What can I say? From the pretzels and cheese we had at our highly coveted table in the Hofbrauhaus hall, to giant mugs of beer, to the eighties music the oompa band jammed to, to the lederhosen and to the crazy midnight turns on whirling carnival rides, Oktoberfest is exactly what you'd imagine. We arrived almost directly from our nine hour flight so the jetlag and sleep deprivation added another level to the insanity, but everyone had a great time. As our first time actually meeting each other, the Oktoberfest atmosphere was perfect for breaking the ice.
And I don't even drink.