On Oct. 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig married Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, kicking off Munich’s first Oktoberfest — 200 years later, the party is still going strong. Now the world’s largest fair, Oktoberfest is a celebration of Bavarian tradition and culture. This year’s festival runs from Sept. 18 to Oct. 4, with 200 attractions and sideshows. Admission to Oktoberfest is free to all — impressive considering it doesn’t take on sponsors (with the exception of Munich breweries, the only brewers allowed to serve at the fair). Maybe that’s because it employs 12,000 people each year and earns a revenue of approximately €450 million over 17 days, on top of another €505 million spent outside the grounds on shopping, transit and accommodations.
Of the 14 different beer tents (actually large wooden halls), Schottenhamel, the oldest, is where Oktoberfest gets its official kick off. Only after Munich’s lord mayor taps the first keg, at noon on the first Sunday — and not a moment before — exclaiming, ” Ozapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”), can the beer drinking begin. Litre of beer: €8.30-€8.90
Open-air Oktoberfest concert
Held on the fair’s second Sunday, this musical celebration starts at 11 a.m. and continues all day. The 400-plus musicians play at the base of Bavaria, a female personification of the Bavarian homeland weighing more than 87 tonnes and nearly 19 metres high. Theresienwiese
Named for the crown prince’s bride, the 103-acre “wiesen” (meadow) has been home to the festival since Day 1. Each year, the fairgrounds host more than six million visitors who consume roughly six million litres of beer, 80,000 litres of wine and over 100 oxen.
Oktoberfest 1881 saw its first roasting of an entire ox. This tradition continues at the Ochsenbraterei tent, where the Bavarian delicacy is served up in myriad ways, from ox jelly to prime boiled ox breast.
Almost all visitors to the festival dress in traditional wear — lederhosen for the men and dirndls for the women. Located just a few blocks from the fairgrounds, this shop offers a variety of styles and price points, but be warned: there are no change rooms. Ruppertstrasse 32
Honouring 200 years of beer-drinking, ox-eating, dirndl-wearing history, the Stadtmuseum is showcasing a special Oktoberfest exhibit through to Oct. 31, featuring old festival art, concerts of historical fair music and an entire room dedicated to beer. Admission: €6 St.-Jakobs-Platz 1
Oktoberfest iPhone app
Navigating the Wiesn is difficult at the soberest of times, but the Oktoberfest iPhone app will keep you on course, letting you know which tents are full, what beers you’ve tasted — and your level of drunkenness.
Sofitel Munich Bayerpost
A heritage building built in the Welhelminian style, this five-star hotel is located in the heart of Munich, just steps from the central train station. Take advantage of their special Oktoberfest rates and book a suite with a panoramic view of the Alps. Bayerstrasse 12