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Culture

Beer Frenzy in Munich

Beer galore, Germans in Lederhosen and the umpah-beat of traditional Bavarian music - the annual Oktoberfest, attracting visitors to Munich from all over the world each year, kicks off this weekend.

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Prost! Visitors to the Oktoberfest drink an average 5 liters of beer

For many good reasons, Munich is the second most popular destination in Germany. One of these, and probably the most significant, is the annual Oktoberfest. The festival, which traditionally begins on the 21st of September, attracts more than six million visitors each year.

Oktoberfest

Waitresses in the traditional Bavarian "Dirndl" swing their mugs and dance among the crowd.

It is said to be the largest public bash in the world. In just 14 days, visitors consume more than five million liters of beer and up to 200,000 pork sausages. An impressive 14 specially constructed giant "beer tents" with room for an average 7,000 drinkers are put up by Munich's breweries for the event, which begins when the first keg is tapped in the so-called Schottenhammel tent. A long-time tradition, the mayor personally 'taps' the first barrel of beer and shouts "O'zapft is!" (the keg is tapped). Then the festivities begin.

Dancing on tables

Oktoberfest Bierkrüge

Beer mugs on a table in a beer tent at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria.

With the keg tapping over, the 'fest' can begin. As the beer flows freely and long trestle tables groan under the weight of the huge, heavy one-liter mugs and impromptu dancing begins on slippery table tops, dedicated Oktoberfest fans start setting up camp on the surrounding fields. For many, the festivity lasts for several days, beginning when the first tents open at ten, until long into the cool, late summer night.

Despite its name, the Oktoberfest actually kicks off in September, since the chances of the weather cooperating are greater. The reasons for the festival's name lie in its origins. It all began with the celebrated marriage on October 12, 1810 of the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig (later known as Ludwig the first) to Princess Therese from the German kingdom of Saxony-Hildburghausen, who gave her name to the Theresienwiese, where the Oktoberfest takes place. After such a successful party, it was decided that the celebrations should take place every year.

Less visitors, more fun?

Bierpreiserhöhung auf dem Oktoberfest

A beer mug full of euros -- the Oktoberfest is a major money-making event in Munich.

Today, visitor numbers are declining but Oktoberfest is still a major event on the German calendar. Not just in a cultural sense: An average €1 billion rolls into the registers of breweries, taxis and hotels during the two weeks of the festival.


However, competition is growing. Already, there is a smaller, yet just as beery Oktoberfest which takes place at the same time in Berlin. And this year, Londoners don't need to go far to get a taste of their favorite Bavarian brew: Instead, they can stay at home and enjoy their first, very own London-based Bavarian-style beer 'fest'.

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