Oktoberfest Starts Today. What Is It?

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Although October is still 10 days away, Oktoberfest kicks off today. As its name suggests, Oktoberfest is a festival running through October. This is pretty much all the information the event’s name gives – what exactly is this slightly misspelled October festival all about?

It turns out Oktober isn’t a misspelling of October – it’s the month’s proper spelling in a different language. Get to know Oktoberfest below.

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is a German festival (Oktober is the German word for October) involving lots of beer. Although the festival was long celebrated solely in Germany, it has quickly become an international phenomenon. It honors the culture of Bavaria, a German state.

When is Oktoberfest?

Although Oktoberfest starts today, the festival is only in its earliest stages right now. Oktoberfest lasts over two weeks, ending on Sunday, October 6th, 15 days from today. This 16-day length is standard for Oktoberfest, but the festival occasionally runs for 17 or 18 days instead. It always ends on the first Sunday of October.

How did Oktoberfest first start?

Oktoberfest hasn’t always been just an excuse to go a bit wild and drink a lot of beer. It first originated as a wedding ceremony long ago when German states had their own royal families. On October 12th, 1810, Bavarian crown prince Ludwig married Therese, princess of Saxony-Hildburghausen (which is now part of the German state of Thuringia). The ceremony spanned many days, not to mention drinks, feasts, and horse races. People loved the festivities so much that celebrating them became an annual tradition.

Where is Oktoberfest held?

The main Oktoberfest event is held in Munich, the capital of Bavaria and one of Germany’s most prominent cities. However, Oktoberfest has long been an international event, so its celebration is far from relegated to Munich. Cities all over the world host their own unique variations on Oktoberfest.

How is Oktoberfest celebrated?

Well, with beer, of course. But that’s not all. Festivalgoers in Munich and Bavaria may encounter people celebrating in full Bavarian clothing such as lederhosen and dirndls. Additionally, travelers to the main event are likely to hear only traditional Bavarian music at beer tents.

How many people celebrate?

Although it’s difficult to tally how many people celebrate Oktoberfest around the world, the Munich event keeps track of numbers. Oktoberfest estimates that six million people – both tourists and locals – partake in Oktoberfest every year. This, of course, presents some challenges to enjoying Oktoberfest – with so many people present, getting a good spot at a beer tent can be challenging.

What if I want to go to Munich for Oktoberfest?

Intrigued by the idea of visiting the mainland for Oktoberfest? You’re far from alone in your conquest, so you’ll have plenty of people to celebrate with, but you’ll also compete with these people for tent spots, beer, and food (imagine how long the lines will be!). Travel experts suggest getting to beer tents well before they open (usually 9 or 10 am local time) to increase your chances of getting a spot. Additionally, Oktoberfest’s beers tend to be high in alcohol content, so above all, pace yourself.

How are you celebrating Oktoberfest? Share your plans in the comments!

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