GREETINGS FROM THE LAND OF BEER and SAUSAGES!! 😅
This time of the year gets a little out of hand in Munich primarily due to it being the season of the one and only: ‘Oktoberfest’.
1st of October was the day before my Dad left for Singapore and since a) neither myself or my Dad had ever been to the Oktoberfest, b) the 4th of October would be the final day of the festival, so why not enjoy it while it lasted!
We got home around 7.30pm after a day of going out and about (after school ended for me of course). I had a short dinner (satisfying filled my tummy with spinach, sweet potato, carrot, broccoli and some Medjool dates and a banana for dessert) before both my Dad and I headed off for Theresienwiese some time around 8.5pm. In case some of You are wondering why it was just me having my dinner, my Dad was saving his tummy space for some Oktoberfest feasting! 🍴
Errrr…. What is ‘Oktoberfest’ exactly?
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair). Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is often simply called the Wiesn, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese) themselves. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the original Munich event. (Singapore does too!! At a German restaurant chain called “Brotzeit”, which translates to “Bread Time”, aka German’s version of Tea Time!)
What do people get about doing during such a festival?
Large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed, with 7.7 million litres served during the 16 day festival in 2013. Visitors may also enjoy a mixture of attractions, such as amusement rides, sidestalls and games, as well as a wide variety of traditional food such as Hendl (roast chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezen (pretzels), 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 spicy cheese-butter spread) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).
P.s. I was originally very upset because the menu seemed like a very carnivorous cuisine, but a Vegetarian Robert informed me that they’d be including Vegetarian and even Vegan cuisine in this year’s menu!! Here is proof:
I quote, “Vegan food is the best way to ensure that people of all religions, as well as those that don’t eat animal products out of conviction, aren’t excluded from the festivities,” says Martin Jonas, who has been working at “Herzkasperl” for four years. “Though it’s hard for Bavarians to change their approach, it makes sense. It’s the lowest common denominator.”
How did ‘Oktoberfest’ come about?
Kronprinz (Crown Prince) Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy Royal event. The fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) in honour of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wiesn”. To end the celebrations from the royal wedding on October 17, horse races, presumably thought to have been a repetition of the Scharlachrennen (Scarlet Race), which took place in the 15th century in front of the Karlstor and was part of the Jakobidult, were held in honour of the newlyweds.
It is an amazing 16 days in Munich, during which walking around ALL OVER MUNICH (I’m not kidding, this also means to school/ work, etc.) donning the traditional Bavarian costumes of Lederhosen and Dirndl is absolutely normal.
The Traditional Costumes Party
To mark the official opening of the Oktoberfest, a traditional costumes parade took place on the first Oktoberfest Sunday (takes place every year). The parade starts at Maximilianstrasse and marches to the Odeonsplatz, where it will pass the official box of the Bavarian Prime Minister and the Mayor of Munich. The route then goes on to Briennerstrasse, Maximiliansplatz, Lenbachplatz and Stachus. Then the parade continues down Sonnen- and Schwanthalerstrasse and finally reaches the Oktoberfest after crossing the Kaiser Ludwig Platz.
About 9500 members take part in the parade and present a huge variety of traditional costumes, habits and traditional dancing routines. Apart from Bavarian groups, guests from all over Germany and even Europe take part in the parade.
Usually, the parade is about 7 kilometers long and offers a huge variety of entertainment, as music groups mix with costume clubs, bands and dancing formations and flag bearers. To this, the Munich breweries add their horse drawn beer wagons to the parade, too.
The parade is headed by the Münchner Kindl, the monk-like mascot of the city.
Now what is The Italian Weekend all about?
“Not only Oktoberfest fans from Italy come to Munich on the second weekend of the celebrations – the Munich police get some visitors, too.
The second weekend of the Oktoberfest celebrations is traditionally the time, when guests from Italy storm the tents at the Theresienwiese. That is also why the Munich police get some support from South Tyrol, a northern region of Italy.
According to the numbers of the Munich Tourism department, Italians are the largest group of guests from abroad during the “festa della birra” on the middle weekend, which is therefore nicknamed “Italian weekend”.
In order to counter communication problems between guests and authorities at the Oktoberfest, the Munich police and rescue service get reinforced by colleagues from South Tyrol.”
I ended up staying at the Wiesn until about 10.30pm before taking the U-Bahn with my Dad back to the apartment. During the 1.5 hours, during which we are at the grounds of the festival, we did a mixture of eating, posing for pictures and vlogging most of the adventure. I’ll leave the video till the end of this post. 🙂
a) The Amusement Rides
This has got to be my favourite ride in any theme park. HANDS DOWN. It’s just so incredibly beautiful, romantic, magical and well… sugar, spice and everything nice!! ♥
I’m not surprised if this entire lighted event could have been seen from the moon as a intensely glowing/ bedazzled part of Earth. I mean seriously, the entire Theresienwiese spans over 42 hectares and every single square metre was utilised to its maximum, i.e. ever open area was covered with something which produced lights (excluding the walkways of course). Imagine 57 football fields. YES it was that huge!!
There were haunted houses, ferris wheels, catapult-y contraptions, roller coasters (big and small ones), merry-go-rounds, spin-You-around thingies and so many others. You name it, they definitely would have had it.
They even had some rides which I’d never seen before! It’s this one right above here. That straight inclined portion of the ride, that contains a conveyor belt to bring people up to the ‘tower’-like portion of the ride. There, the person could take the stairs up to the top and slide (?) (is there another verb for sliding down a slide??? Haha please let me know!) down a slide which encircles the ‘tower’, using a piece of carpet large enough to sit on.
The hilarious bit? All the participants going on this ride were clearly drunk. Have a look at the last bit of my vlog if You’d like to know, or rather see, what I’m talking about hahahaha. My Dad and I spent a total of about 25 minutes simply standing there and laughing our heads off at how funny it looked as some fell/ rolled/ tripped/ etc. There were some REALLY HILARIOUS ones but I unfortunately did not capture them on video because I laughed so hard, all I got as footage was a whole lot of shaking 😦 I still managed to get 2 or 3 cheeky clips in my vlog though, so I’m pretty thankful about that!
b) Food Huts
What’s a festival without food, right? Of course there are tents, aka Oktoberfest ‘restaurants’ (which I will explain at a later part of this post), but for those going to the festival to have fun on the rides rather than sit and have a proper meal/ drinking session, the tents just won’t do.
That’s why we get shops along the walkways offering options such as burgers/ sandwiches, ice-cream, nuts (roasted, baked, glazed, etc.), juices/ smoothies, waffles, among many many others. These shops allow for an easy snack/ small meal along the way from one ride to another. Convenience at its finest! 🙂
And here we have something very unique to the Bavarian tradition: Oktoberfestherzen, aka. Gingerbread Cookie Hearts
Millions of the famous heart shaped German gingerbread cookies, decorated with all types of cheeky messages (mostly in Bayerisch, the local Bavarian dialect) , are sold every year.
For example, …
Ozapt’is – It’s tapped
Ich Liebe Dich – I Love You
Glückspilz – Lucky Toadstool
Held – Hero
Zauberbaer – literally Magic Bear
Mein Traumprinz – Prince Charming
Mr. Perfekt – Mr. Perfect
Powerfrau – Power Lady/ Woman
Weil I Di mog – Because I like you (dialect)
Meiner Kuschelmaus – my snuggle-mouse :’)
Spatzl – little sparrow
Es ist Aus – It is over (hahahaha!!)
Ich bin Single – I am single
Grüß vom Oktoberfest – Greetings from Oktoberfest
among soooooooo many so many more!
There was an old folklore tradition that giving sweets with wishes written on them served two purposes:
a) The wish/ thought would be read and the message would be “absorbed” by the reader.
b) The letters were eaten and this added to a ‘sureness’ of whatever had been written.
Now this is pretty special: During Oktoberfest, there is a yearly average of 50 special orders for marriage proposals to be iced onto gingerbread hearts at EACH cookie stall.
Each heart cookie is colourfully decorated and strung with a ribbon, so they can be easily worn and have their messages seen by others. The Oktoberfest Heart Cookies come in all sizes – from teeny tiny small ones to really large ones, like 4-to-5-times-the-size-of-my-face kind of large.
To leave the Munich Octoberfest without one is almost a crime! So my Dad and I bought one for my Mum, which he brought back to Singapore with him in his luggage. It read: “Mei Schatz” (Bavarian dialect for “Mein Schatz” which means “My Darling/ Loved One/ Sweetheart”)!
One of the most comply seen sayings, “WEIL I DI MOG”, aka. “Because I Like You”, is also a “toe-tapping” song by the group RELAX that is sung in “Bayerisch”, Bavarian dialect. Songs like these are played in the tents and everyone begins standing up on their benches (YES, on their BENCHES) and starts dancing and singing along haha it’s quite a view!
Fun-fact: There are over 100 Oktoberfest gingerbread cookie stands scattered around the festival grounds every year!
c) The Oktoberfest Tents
They’re not actual camping tent-like structures, but rather something like large warehouse halls with a central stage area surrounded by rows and rows of long tables and benches for the participants of this festival. Some of the more famous tents require You to pay an entrance fee, but some don’t. The Augustiner-Bräu (featured above) for example is one of the top tents and would therefore require a few Euros for entrance permission.
This very tent is considered by many locals to be the best tent, due to the fact it sells the favourite local brew, Augustiner, from individually tapped wooden kegs rather than stainless steel vats used by the other tents.
I entered one of the tents which had free entrance. I think it may have been the Hacker-Festzelt? I’m not too entirely sure. It was already pretty late by the time we walked into this tent and I didn’t pay much notice to its name.
What I paid notice to though, was the fact that amidst having their meals, people stand up on their benches (like mentioned previously) and really party… hard. It’s insane yet ever so wonderful, the extent to which celebrating this event is taken to during the Oktoberfest!! 😄
It definitely is a must-see/ -experience! At least once in Your life!
There are currently fourteen large tents and twenty small tents at the Oktoberfest. The tents are non-permanent structures which are constructed for and only used during the festival. 2 weeks to construct, 2 weeks to tear it all down. So in essence, the whole event spans over 1.5 months if we include preparation and running time into the calculation.
Tents could be differentiated from each other by the cuisine they cater to…
Fischer-Vroni – Translates as “Fishers Veronika”. Another of the smaller tents. Fisch is the German word for fish and this tent carries a huge selection on its menu. The main dish is Steckerlfisch, which is grilled outside of the tent.
Zum Stiftl – Zum Stiftl is famous for its traditional duck and roasted chicken dishes, cozy atmosphere, and daily entertainment.
Zur Bratwurst – Debuting in 2007, the Hochreiter family has brought back the former Bratwurstglöckl in the spirit of good old Munich Oktoberfest.
Feisingers Ka’s und Weinstubn – Cheese and everything that complements it is the specialty of the house in this unique tent.
Bodo’s Cafezelt – Don’t come to Bodo’s looking for beer. Instead you’ll find, exotic cocktails, Prosecco, champagne, coffee, donuts, ice cream, pastry, and strudel variations of all kinds.
Weinzelt – Translates as “wine tent”. This tent offers a selection of more than 15 wines, as well as Weißbier.
Or the groups of people who like to go there…
Schottenhamel – Reckoned to be the most important tent at the Oktoberfest, mainly because it is located at the beginning. On the first Saturday of the event, no beer is allowed to be served until the Mayor of Munich (currently Dieter Reiter) taps the first keg, at exactly high noon. Only then can the other tents begin to serve beer. The tent is very popular among younger people. A substantial part of the tent is guaranteed to traditional Studentenverbindungen (a particular form of student fraternities) and outfitted with their distinctive colors and coats of arms.
Hofbräu-Festzelt – The counterpart to the famous Hofbräuhaus, this tent is especially popular with Americans, Australians and New Zealanders.
Käfer Wiesn-Schänke – The smallest of the large tents at the Oktoberfest, it is frequented by celebrities, and is known for its especially good – and expensive – food. In contrast to the other tents (which must close by 11 pm), it is open until 12:30 am, and it can be very difficult to gain admittance.
This is a really interesting read, do click *here* if You’d like to read up on it!
d) The Oktoberfest Webcam
Now this is a pretty incredible feature on the official Oktoberfest website which presents to viewers all over the world what i happening at the festival REAL TIME.
The screen capture which I’ve included above happened a couple of days ago around 4pm – insane or INSANE?! I simply canNOT imagine navigating through this crowd and finding my way around.
Anyway this gives You a very good representation of how crazy it could get at this festival haha it really is quite a big deal.
Here’s another article which has been written on the Oktoberfest. *Have a look* if You’re interested!
And as promised…
The Vlogging I did at Oktoberfest ‘15
Enjoy! :’) Xx