Oktoberfest – Facts and figures
The Oktoberfest is one of the most famous events in the world. Every year, numerous visitors from all over the world come together in Munich to enjoy a beer or two with colleagues, friends or family.
- Oktoberfest expressed in figures (2019):
- Visitors: 6.3 million.
- Beer servings: 7.3 million mugs.
- Price of beer: 10.80€ – 11.80€
- Large festival tents: 17
- Smaller gastro-operations: 129
- Wiesn employees: 13.000
- Toilets: 1,400 “sitting” and 1km “standing”
- The new “In” drink Acid shandy
How did Oktoberfest come about and what is the historical background?
Here you can find out everything about the history and the actual background of the Oktoberfest. You can surprise your friends and guests with this special knowledge.
The origin of the first Oktoberfest goes back a long way in history. On 17 October 1810, the first Oktoberfest was celebrated on today’s Theresienwiese. But almost 200 years ago, this festival did not have much in common with the world-famous Oktoberfest.
The original reason for hosting the festival was the wedding of Ludwig von Bayern and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Such an important wedding had to be celebrated in a correspondingly big way. The banker and cavalry major Andreas von Dall’Armi had the idea to host a big horse race to celebrate the wedding. He forwarded the proposal to King Max I. Joseph of Bavaria, who was enthusiastic about this great idea and so a big party was organised on what was then the “meadow”. It was only after the wedding that the meadow was renamed Theresienwiese in honour of the bride Therese.
The enthusiasm of the people for this festival was so great that it immediately became clear that such a festival should be held annually.
It was therefore organised by the “Agricultural Association in Bavaria” over the next two years. The focus was on the presentation of new agricultural techniques and machines, as well as horse racing.
In 1813 the festival was cancelled for the first time due to the Napoleonic wars.
Until 1818, the festival was financed and organised by private individuals. It was not until 1819 that the Munich city officials took up the task again and organised this festival annually. From then on, the festival became bigger and more popular. The organisation of the city brought more and more rides and shows to Munich for the festival every year.
The next special event was the unveiling of the guardian over the Oktoberfest – the Bavaria. Unfortunately, however, luck was not on the side of the Oktoberfest. The festival often had to be cancelled in the following years due to cholera epidemics and ongoing wars.
In 1881 the situation finally calmed down and the first chicken roastery was opened. Since then, guests from all over the world can enjoy the famous Wiesnhendl chicken. Towards the end of the 19th century, the festival became significantly more modern, primarily because electricity arrived at the Oktoberfest, so that each year more and more illuminated shows opened at the Oktoberfest. Even the first electric carousels found their place on the Theresienwiese. Due to increasing demand, the large Munich breweries built large festival halls with real music bands for the first time.
In 1910 the largest tent at that time, the Bräurosl with 12,000 seats, was ceremoniously opened on the occasion of the 100th anniversary. To this day, the number of mugs of beer drunk in this tent has remained unbroken. 12,000 hectolitres of beer were drunk in this anniversary year.
The following years were marked by the two world wars and the fear of inflation. Therefore, the Oktoberfest was not held every year, but only sometimes as part of a small autumn festival, to offer the residents of Munich something different in those difficult times.
In 1950 the Oktoberfest was opened for the first time with the solemn tapping of a barrel in the Schottenhamel Festhalle by the then mayor Thomas Wimmer. It has been a tradition for more than 64 years that every festival is opened with the famous words “O’zapft is”, which is now known around the world as the Oktoberfest “slogan”.
Currently the Oktoberfest has turned into a colourful festival for almost all nations. Not only our immediate neighbours such as Italy, Holland or Austria visit Munich for the Oktoberfest, but also many guests from other continents embark on the long journey to the Oktoberfest to take part in the largest folk festival in the world.
Today’s “modern” Wiesn is visited by over 6 million guests from all over the world every year.
Dos and don’ts at the Wiesn
- Order “A mass” – if you say “a beer” you will quickly be recognised as a first-time visitor
- Show up in traditional costumes – tradition is the trend
- Make friends with the waitresses – they decide who gets the next beer with the best head
- Tie the dirndl bow properly – which side you tie your bow on is more meaningful than some people think. You should inform yourself beforehand and wear it on the right side, otherwise misunderstandings can quickly arise with the other Oktoberfest visitors. Read our post on that.
- Be generous – no matter whether waitress or toilet attendant, everyone is happy to receive a little tip
- Bring cash – only a few tents and facilities accept card payments
- Skating, scooter and cycling are strictly forbidden at the Oktoberfest
- “Wild pees” – Whoever relieves themselves of their liquid somewhere other than on the sanitary facilities and gets caught is fined 40 €. Excuses such as “traditional customary law” or “everyone does that…” are not valid!
- Weapons – Why do you have to emphasize that? Some people wear a traditional “deer catcher” knife in their Lederhosn. These also have no place at the Oktoberfest!
- Staying between 01:30 and 06:00 – the Theresienwiese also needs a break
- “Wild sale of goods, private artistic performances and the distribution of advertising material of all kinds are prohibited. This also applies to begging and peddling.” In German: no stripping on the tables in the Hofbräuhaus, no distribution of Oktoberfest hearts, roses and mobile phone numbers.
- Bringing your own alcoholic beverages – the offer is big enough
- Animals are not allowed at the Oktoberfest – the only exception are guide dogs
- Prams are only allowed until 18:00 on Sundays to Fridays; on Saturdays they are completely prohibited
- Painting, writing on and fly-posting the facilities – you can quickly get into trouble with the owners
- Show up in cheap dress – judgmental looks guaranteed!
- Dancing on the tables – this can get you thrown out of the tent very quickly, so stay on the benches and be careful never to have both feet on the table
- Bring large bags and backpacks – this has been prohibited since 2016 and you cannot get past the bag controls at the entrance
If you observe all the Dos & Don’ts mentioned, nothing should get in the way of a successful visit to the Oktoberfest!