Everything you've ever needed to know about the Oktoberfest
Since its conception in 1810 and with its significance to Bavarian culture the Oktoberfest understandably has solidified its position within history. The Oktoberfest itself takes place every year on the 17th September in Munich, and concludes on the 3rd October, (which incidentally is also the Day of German unity).
The Oktoberfest attracts millions of visitors each year and not just from all over Germany! Infact in the last few years the numbers of tourists from locations such as: America, Canada, Australia and Italy has seen a drastic increase. But what is it about this large folk festival that makes it so famous? Why do so many people travel such vast distances just to take part in this giant party? Perhaps more importantly: How is this celebration planned, organised and constructed in order to ensure that it is a continual success story each year?
Naturally the current political climate within Europe, as well as with the inherent risks associated with the increased risks of terrorist attacks within many European Countries and cities has necessitated an overall increase in the security procedures in place at this years Oktoberfest. For the first time ever in its 200 year history a security fence has been constructed which encapsulates the entire 42 hectar Theresienwiese site. In addition to this, 450 Security personnel are responsible for conducting security checks at the 14 on-site entrances. Alongside this, as a further safeguarding measure all backpacks as well as suitcases with a capacity greater than 3 litres have been banned, finally the overall concentration of CCTV cameras has been increased from 19 to 29. All of these components are co-ordinated from a central response building which houses police, fire and rescue personnel as well as its own dedicated accident and emergency room. All of this is a clear indication that the City of Munich is not willing to take any chances, where security is concerned. To further round this off the Munich Police force have also supplied 600 police officers to further augment the overall security force available for the Oktoberfest. This number is approximately 100 more than the previous year, and reflects the seriousness of the situation.
Despite all of these increased security measures the overall message is that it is hoped that everyone will have a chance to enjoy themselves and have fun, and it should go without saying that a lot of beer will be consumed! However, despite all the beer being served, you can't forget some of the excellent food on offer!
With specialities such as
- Weißwurst (A type of white sausage),
- Knödeln (dumplings),
- Schweinshaxe (a Knuckle of pork),
- Ochsenbraten (Roasted Ox),
- Fischsemmel (Fish sandwich),
- Grillhendl mit kartoffelsalat (Grilled Chicken with potatosalad),
- Obatzda (A bavarian cheese dish),
- Steckerlfisch (a small grilled fish on a stick)
and many more! One thing you can definitely be assured of is you will definitely find something to suit every taste!
Did you know...
- It takes 10 weeks to construct everything, but only 5 weeks to disassemble it all again.
- The entire celebration takes place over 14-16 days, and attracts approximately 6 million people every year.
- In its 200 year history the Oktoberfest has only been cancelled 9 times, each time for different reasons. For example (WWI and WWII, 2 Cholera outbreaks, as well as the various economic recessions.)
- The Oktoberfest was initially conceived as a celebration for the marriage between Ludwig I and Princess Theresa of Saxony-Hildburghausen.
- It is held on the 42 Hectar Theresienwiese; however locals often abbreviate this to "Wiesn".
- The Oktoberfest is traditionally opened punctually at noon by the Mayor of Munich who has the honour of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer, once this has been completed all visitors are then invited to quench their thirst. Historically the term "O'zapft" meaning "it's tapped" is used to conclude the keg opening ceremony.
- Some other key events at the Oktoberfest are: The parade of landlords and Breweries, Oktoberfest Mass, "Böllerschießen" (Handheld cannon salute" infront of the Bavaria Statue as well as for this year an agricultural festival.
Do all the different varieties of beer come from Germany? Or even from Abroad?
Simply put no! The 6 varieties of beer served at the Oktoberfest have to by law be brewed in Bavaria, this is in keeping with cultural traditions. Moreover, the beers themselves MUST conform to the so called "reinheitsgebot" or "German purity law" and must be of the highest quality, the law itself is the oldest law concerning the purity of Beer and dates back to 1516! The 6 types of beer served are:
How much money does the Oktoberbest cost?
The Oktoberfest has an approximate economic worth of around 1.1 Billion Euro with further expenditures amassed from the celebration itself. Many different sectors profit from the Oktoberfest either directly or indirectly, a few examples being
- Overnight stays and catering
- The establishing of jobs and the workers subsequent salaries
- Breeding farms within the agricultural sector
- Workers within the construction industry
- Bakers and Butchers
- Transport and Logistics
- Gastronomy and Hoteliers
- Suveniers and Merchandise including: Dirndles, Lederhosen, Hats, T-shirts etc.
How difficult is it to organise the event?
It goes without saying that a great deal of planning and organisation goes into all aspects of the Oktoberfest, from ensuring that all ingredients for the food are delivered in a timely "Just in time" fashion, through to ensuring that the fresh chickens are delivered promptly ready for serving within the on-site tent kitchens, all the way to ensuring that the pumps for the beer are working at optimum condition!
As the event itself has been running so successfully for so many years many trustworthy, reliable partnerships have been created, which are understandably relied upon to ensure a smooth day to day running of the Oktoberfest. Many of these partnerships date back to 2 or 3 generations of families, sometimes even further! As such reputations play an invaluable role. Understandably everyone involved needs to know exactly when a delivery is scheduled to be made, so that they can plan accordingly. After all it goes without saying that German efficiency and Time management are known throughout the world and the Oktoberfest serves as a prime example of this!
Approximately how many Lorries are needed?
- 800 Individual Lorry loads
- As an example the individual components required in order to construct the famous "Chiemgau-Bauernhaus" (Chiemgau-Farmhouse) sometimes also known as the "Beetle tent", account for 120 containers on their own!
A few statistics from last years Oktoberfest:
- A total of 104 Oxen were consumed
- 6.7million litres of beer were consumed
- 2.7million Kilowatt hours of electricity were used, an approximate increase of 3.5% compared to the previous year.
- 61% of the clients involved at the Oktoberfest used "Green Energy" or requested it and it appears that this trend will only continue to grow.
- 105,000 cubic meters of water were used; this is an approximate increase of 25% compared to the previous year.
- The construction and deconstruction of one tent costs approximately 1 Million Euro.
- All of the tents must be constructed on the same locations as those of the previous years, some of the workers who undertake this have been doing so for around 3 generations, as such knowledge transfer is common amongst the families involved, and is continually passed down. As such blueprints are often dispensed with entirely and instead the construction is done from memory and through any pictures taken in the past.
- Many of the building components require 2-3 months of construction before they are ready to be opened for the Oktoberfest.
- Hundreds of cubic meters of concrete need to be mixed and poured for the flooring in the beer tent kitchens, and every year this needs to be re-poured. Then as soon as the Oktoberfest finishes it needs to be ripped up again.