Prost to Oktoberfest!

Updated: Oct 13

✦ It’s time to don the lederhosen and dirndl dresses, charge your glasses and shout out the customary toast of ‘Prost’!

Prost! Friends from Germanic countries don their lederhosen to celebrate the Oktoberfest

The expression “dying” or “gagging for a drink” is a well worn one that many people will have muttered after a particularly stressful or strenuous experience. There’s nothing quite like cracking a cold one or popping the cork on a nice bottle of wine to help one relax.

Imagine then having to put that indulgence on hold for two years?! That’s what devotees of the Wiesn Festival, otherwise known as Oktoberfest, in Munich have had to endure as the COVID-19 pandemic put pay to their annual celebration with the past two years’ celebrations cancelled. That’s not to say these fans and regular attendees have had to go that long without a drink, but there’s something very special about the occasion that elevates it above and beyond the typical, regular soiree.

In 2019, 7.3 million litres of beer were consumed across the 16 days of Oktoberfest as featured in Brilliant-Online
In 2019, 7.3 million litres of beer were consumed across the 16 days of Oktoberfest

It was, therefore, keenly received and much welcome news when Munich Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter

announced at a press conference on April 29th 2022 that revellers could once again convene for the 187th edition of Oktoberfest, which will take place from September 17th to October 3rd 2022 on the Theresienwiese, the open space in the Munich borough of Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt.

But hang on a minute – looking at those dates, why is it actually called Oktoberfest and not 'Septemberfest'? It’s more than a fair question as the majority of the festival falls into the month of

September! To find the answer, we need to dust off the history books...

The very first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to mark the wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

Festivities, horse racing, fine banquets and, of course, beer were enjoyed by all on the fields in front of the city gates and, subsequently, it was an occasion that would be repeated, and in time extended, year-upon-year.

However, it was deemed that the weather was much more favourable just a few weeks earlier and so the occasion was brought forward to accommodate a more clement, and thus pleasant and enjoyable, climate.

And that’s how we got Oktoberfest, even though it’s largely held during the previous month!

Nowadays it is the world’s largest folk festival, or “Volksfest” to use its Germanic name, attracting millions of revellers from all over the world who are keen to enjoy the festivities and quench their thirst!

Oktoberfest at Munich's Theresienwiese fairground with rides, games and food stalls offering local cuisine as featured in Brilliant-Online
Oktoberfest at Munich's Theresienwiese fairground with rides, games and food stalls offering local cuisine

The last Oktoberfest attracted 6.3 million visitors who travelled to not only enjoy the renowned beer festival but a travelling funfair with amusement rides, side stalls, games and an array of stalls offering delicious local cuisine – nothing like a good old Schweinshaxe German ham hock or a plate of bratwurst with potato pancakes and sauerkraut to mop up all that beer! And make no mistake, there is A LOT of beer consumed at Oktoberfest - in 2019, 7.3 million litres were consumed across the 16 days, although, that being said, it was 7.5 million litres poured and consumed in the previous year!

Schweinshaxe German pork knuckles, one of the specialty by Veronica Lind, Brilliant-Online
Schweinshaxe German pork knuckle, one of the specialities by Veronica Lind

A parade to inaugurate the occasion is led by the Mayor of Munich whereby all the breweries and restaurants participating in the festival take part in decorated horse carriages and floats, while the music bands from the nearby beer tents accompany the procession. Nearly all of Germany’s major brewers all sponsor large, temporary pavilions filled with long wooden benches, a raised bandstand and a raucous live Oompah band for a good old singalong!

A fully inclusive event, the contemporary festival also incorporates the “Rosa Wiesn”, also known