Oktoberfest has its origins in the celebrations of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become Ludwig I of Bavaria, to Therese von Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810.
The Oktoberfest grounds in the center of the town are also named after her: the Theresienwiese (Wiese means meadow), affectionately referred to by Munich folk as the "Wiesn", which has also become the term for the world's biggest fun fair itself.
Every year in the last week of September, this huge area at the foot of the statue of Bavaria is turned into a vast "Festwiese" for 16 uproarious days until the beginning of October (the Oktoberfest always begins on the last Saturday but one in September
and ends on the first Sunday in October).
...while paraders provide street entertainment.
The Wiesn is a festival for all the senses, a merry mixture of sideshows, traditional roundabouts, high-tech switchbacks, a Ferris wheel and "Super Loopings", small and larger sales stands for such delicacies as candy floss, gingerbread hearts and roast
almonds or for balloons, stuffed animals and other souvenirs, and, of course, the "landlords' alley" with the 14 beer tents of the Munich breweries.
Munich's importance as the beer metropolis is also underscored by the international trade fair "drinktec-interbräu", which takes place every four years at the same time as the Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest lasts from late September until
the first Sunday in October, and is open
daily from 10AM to "last call" at 10:30PM.
• Each year, Oktoberfest kicks off with a parade to the fairgrounds where the mayor of Munich awaits to open the first keg. When he exclaims, “O’zapft is!," (“It’s tapped!”), the official beginning of Oktoberfest is marked and the party begins.
• The “Dirndl” is the traditional dress worn worn by "Bier Frolleinsseen" (bar maidens) at Oktoberfest. In November 2008, Oktoberfest beer waitress Anita Schwarz set a world record for carrying 19 steins of beer to a table 130 feet away without spilling a drop.
• Every year, over 4000 things are lost and found during Oktoberfest. The all-time classics are glasses, phones, money, jackets, pullovers and at least one set of dentures.
• On average, 6 million people from all over the world visit Munich's Oktoberfest adding approximately US$1 billion to the local economy during the 10-day event.
• The annual Munich celebration is also a major FOOD fest offering up generous helpings of cold cuts, sausages, sauerkraut, schnitzel, potato salad, roast chicken and duck, smoked fish, roast ox, pork with dumplings and, of course, lots of pretzels.