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How much do you know about the non-beer parts of the greatest beerfest in the world? Munich in Bavaria, Germany, hosts the original and oldest Oktoberfest every year starting in the middle of September. While we in the United States celebrate the festival in October itself, in Germany the festival actually ends at the beginning of the tenth month. Visit Oktoberfest.de (also in German, of course) for more information, photos, and beer tent schedules in Munich. (By the way, if you’re skimming something in German and the text mentions “Oktoberfest in München” or “Münchner Oktoberfest” you’ve found the right festival! München in the German word for Munich.)
The Oktoberfest celebration began with a royal marriage. Crown Prince Ludwig of Königreich Bayern (“Kingdom of Bavaria”) married Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen (a duchy in what is now another part of modern Germany) on October 12, 1810, and Bavarians did what Bavarians are wont to do: they threw a party! That original celebration turned out so wunderbar (“wonderful”) that the Bavarians decided to do it again. And again! The folk festival expanded into two-and-a-half week long party that brings 7 million visitors to Munich every year. The 2010 celebration was the 200th anniversary of the original Oktoberfest and mini-festivals were recreated throughout the world in honor of the festival’s enduring legacy. If you want to find a beerfest near you and experience the local take on a German tradition, start here.
Want to dress up when you attend the nearest Oktoberfest celebration? Traditional garb is usually encouraged! Women and girls wear dirndl, from the word meaning “maid’s dress”, while men and boys can be seen in lederhosen, which means “leather breeches”. If you celebrate in style, let us know!