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The magical words of Oktoberfest
’O’zapft ist!’ The beer is tapped!
These are the magical words that eager festival-goers will wait hours for on the morning of September 16 in Munich.
It’s the moment when the Mayor of Munich taps the first beer keg of Oktoberfest, and officially kicks off the World’s largest beer drinking party. An entire two weeks of beer drinking, oompah-ing and proost-ing your way around Munich’s beer tents, and perhaps some eventual table top dancing to boot.
This year is the 173rd Oktoberfest, and the festival will run from that fateful September morning the 16 until October 3. Hang on - Oktoberfest isn’t actually in October? If you’re confused, don’t worry (so were we!). It’s just a case of German efficiency – the original festival was held during October, but in order to take advantage of longer days and short-sleeve weather, it has been pushed back into September. The festival originates from the wedding celebrations of the Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810, but today it has developed into what is THE biggest festival in the world.
This year, the usual suspects will be present at the Theresienwiese grounds in Munich: the six local breweries – Augustner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner and Spalen; over 6 million estimated people; 14 fully packed beer tents; one bif fairground, ferris wheel included, and many smiling frauleins delivering eagerly-awaited Steins to happy drinkers. Admire these strong-armed maidens - they carry at least 5 mass (one litre glasses) in each arm in dozens of trips each day, keeping the teeming masses happy. (Eds note: to make sure that your beers arrive frosted and chilly, remember to tip the smiling frauleins!)
In these two weeks, an estimated 6 million litres of beer will be drunken, sloshed, or spilled down shirt-fronts and on table tops. Over 200,000 pairs of sausages will pass through hungry mouths, and many an oompah song will connect people across beer tents in the Theresienwiese. Make sure that you’re a part of the action, and book yourself a hostel bed now. All that remains is deciding which beer tent suits you…
Ok, so the trip to Munich is out of the question? Then look for an international Oktoberfest near you! You’ll find Oktoberfest celebrated in cities with large German communities (like in Blumenau in Brazil, Ontario in Canada, and even Cincinnati in Ohio) or in cities that just know how to enjoy a good beer. For instance, Oktoberfest is also celebrated in many Australian city universities, and even at hotels in Hong Kong! If all else fails, put up a long bench in your backyard, make sure you’ve got beer-a-plenty and bring on the sausages. Maybe you could find someone to be your local fraulein (provided that you tip well of course).
’O’zapft ist!’ We’ll see you in the beer tents!
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