Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Phenomenon: Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a two-week beer festival held each year in Munich (München), Bavaria, Germany. It is one of the most famous events in the city and the world's largest fair, with 5.9 million people visiting this year.

Oktoberfest 2004 ended on October 3rd. The first Oktoberfest, held from October started on this day in 1810 in Munich. It was a horse race on the occasion of the wedding of Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Because of its success, it was repeated annually, later also with an agricultural fair, dance, music and amusement rides. Overall, the celebration had to be cancelled in 24 years, because of war, disease or other problems. Horse races ended in 1960.

A special Oktoberfest beer is brewed for the occasion, which is slightly darker and stronger, in both taste and alcohol. It is served in a one-liter-tankard called Mass. Only local Munich breweries are allowed to serve this beer in so-called Bierzelte (beer "tents") which contain some 3,000–10,000 people. This year, 5.5 million liter of beer have been consumed.

Visitors also consume large quantities of food, most of it traditional hearty fare such as sausage, hendl (chicken) and sauerkraut, along with such Bavarian delicacies as roast ox tails.