Oktoberfest – The Greatest Party on Earth has started
At least for the last couple of days the great question in Munich was: How many hits will Christian Ude need to tap the first 200 liter Hirschen (beer barrel)? Three would be good, one would be gambling and more than five a downfall. It's tradition since 1950, that the Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first barrel at 12 o'clock in the Schottenhamel (beer tent) and the Minister President of Bavaria gets the first Maß (beer). Two is the answer, thats excellent. So, the 175th Oktoberfest is open for the next 16 days.
What is now called „The Greatest Party on Earth“ started in 1810 as a horse race outside of Munich to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig, the later King Ludwig I, with Princess Theresie von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Since then the area, now in the middle of Munich, is called Theresienwiese or simply Wiesn. The people loved it and so it was repeated every year, with only some exceptions, like whilst and after World War I and II or epidemics in the mid 19th century. In 1835, to celebrate the Silver Wedding of King Ludwig I and his wife Theresie from Bavaria, a parade was held. Since 1950 this Trachten- and Schützenzug (National and International Costume- and Rifleman parade) is a part of the Oktoberfest opening, as well as the Parade of the Wiesnwirte (Wiesn landlords), held the first time in 1887.
Since the old days, the Oktoberfest has grown enormous. Today it can seat about 100.000 people in 14 Festhallen (beer tents). The largest Festhallen can seat over 9.000 people each. But the Festhallen are only a part of the Oktoberfest. One can find all kinds of attractions from the mery-go-rounds for kids to the fanciest roller coasters. From more than 100 years old attractions to high tech. From cotton candy to the finest menu. But of course the classic is still a Maß beer and a half roast chicken. One can even find a flea circus. All together there are nearly 600 different attractions on this years Oktoberfest!
The statistics of the Oktoberfest offer stunningly facts: in 2007 more than 6.2 millions visitors drank 6.9 millions liter beer, ate 521,000 roast chickens, 58,000 knuckle of porks and 104 oxen. The peak electricity consumption could serve 21,000 residents.
Despite all the superlatives, if one avoids the overcrowded weekends, it is plenty of space and attraction for everybody at the Oktoberfest and in the early afternoon hours it should be no problem with children our even a buggy. For those who can't get enough, the party does not stop when the Oktoberfest ends in the evening. The clubs are crowded and Dirndl and Lederhosen (traditional Bavarian costumes) are welcome.
Today, at the opening ceremony for the 176th Oktoberfest, Christian Ude, Lord Mayer of Munich, again did need two hits to tap the first Hirschen, followed by the words: O'zapft is, auf eine friedliche Wiesn (It's tapped, a peaceful Oktoberfest, everybody).
For the next 16 days, "The Party" is on again!