Raise your beer mugs and get ready to celebrate! Oktoberfest, the world’s largest and most famous beer festival, is back in Munich, Germany. This year’s festivities will run from September 16 to October 3, making it the longest Oktoberfest ever.
But before we dive into the merriment, let’s take a look at some fun facts about this iconic festival. Did you know that Oktoberfest always begins on a Saturday in mid-September and lasts until the first Sunday in October? However, if that Sunday falls on either October 1 or 2, the celebrations are extended until October 3, which is German Unity Day. Since this year’s festival commences on October 1, we’re in for an 18-day extravaganza!
Now, let’s talk about how Oktoberfest officially kicks off. Since 1950, the mayor of Munich has the honor of tapping the first keg at Schottenhamel Festhalle. With great anticipation, the mayor fills the first mass – the famous one-liter German beer stein – and hands it to the premier of Bavaria, exclaiming “O’zapft is!” (“it is tapped”). It’s at this moment that other tents are signaled to start serving beer, and the festival really comes to life.
When it comes to the beer itself, only six Munich breweries have the privilege of serving their brews at Oktoberfest. These breweries – Hofbräu, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten – each have their own massive beer garden tents at the Theresienwiese fairgrounds.
Of course, Oktoberfest wouldn’t be complete without copious amounts of beer. Year after year, between 5 million and 7 million people flock to the festival grounds, with a record-breaking attendance of 7.1 million in 1987. During this boozy extravaganza, attendees consume staggering amounts of beer. Over the past two decades, the lowest recorded beer consumption was 5.6 million liters (almost 1.5 million gallons), while the highest was a whopping 7.7 million liters (over 2 million gallons) in 2014.
While the beer takes center stage, let’s not forget about the delicious food that accompanies it. The amount of food served varies each year based on attendance, but let’s take a look at 2016 as an example. During that year, with 5.6 million festival-goers, a staggering amount of food was devoured, leaving taste buds satisfied and bellies full.
So, as Munich gears up for another unforgettable Oktoberfest, remember to raise your mug, toast to good times, and indulge in the festivities. Prost!