How to visit Munich's Oktoberfest
by Elizabeth Willoughby
Those seriously planning to attend Munich’s Oktoberfest are the ones at their computers on the first of January buying up 12 tickets for a table in a beer tent that won't be assembled for another nine months. She who doesn't is either planning on only lunch at the calmer, daytime Wiesn, or is a knockout in a Dirndl and confident that some Lederhosen’d hunk will make room for her tush on the bench beside him.
Though not required to enter the festival, the Dirndl and Lederhosen are ubiquitous, donned by everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Traditional Tracht was an outfit depicting one’s locality, guild or status in society, but the Oktoberfest Tracht has changed with the times as any fashion does. Lederhosen, the leather pants or shorts worn by men, can now be seen as hot pants worn by young women. The Dirndl, traditionally a Sunday dress for church and the market afterwards, today includes a cleavage revealing blouse and a corset along with the skirt and apron, and sometimes cowboy boots. The Lederhosen and Dirndl have come to typify Bavaria in most tourists’ eyes. Hundreds land at MUC and head straight into the city to buy a modernized Tracht before heading to the party at Theresienwiese.
Over the two-week festival, around six million visitors come for a Maβ (1-litre glass mug of beer) and roasted half chicken, onions and Obazda (a Camembert, butter and herb spread) to dip the Bretzn (big pretzel) in and Griebenschmalz (lard and greaves) to spread on brown bread, while a loud band on the tent’s centre stage plays songs to sing and prost (cheers) to.
The world’s largest beer fest began in 1810 with festivities held in the Wiesn (meadow) as part of the wedding celebrations of the future King Ludwig I to Princess Theresa von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. Today it begins on a Saturday in September (when there are better chances of good weather) with a procession of the major breweries’ wagons that head into the Wiesn. There, Munich’s mayor taps the first barrel of beer at the stroke of noon and declares, “O'zapft is!”
Don’t miss the Ferris wheel for views over the city, and do peruse the Oide Wiesn, where traditional rides and games keep the old timer Oktoberfest alive.
This article was originally published in September 2015 here on Examiner.com.
© Elizabeth Willoughby 2013
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