With a festival as big and long standing as Oktoberfest, there are bound to be a few traditions that have stuck around since its origin that are now bonded to the event, as well as a few new ones that have been added over the years as the festival grew in size and numbers.
As we cannot attend the festival this year, we thought we’d introduce you to, or remind you of, some of the incredible traditions that make this festival the grand event it has come to be since its much smaller origins. So let's get started where it all begins…
Entry Of The Beer
Each brewery taking part in Oktoberfest enters the event in a grand procession as they make their way to the main festival tent together. Crowds gather to witness the breweries, or ‘Oktoberfest Landlords’ make their way to the center of the festival just in time for the Mayor to tap the first keg. They each then make their way to their individual tents set out throughout the festival ready for the celebrations to begin.
The Start Of The Festival
Although most will start the festival with a drink on the night before the organised Oktoberfest events begin, the official start of the festival kicks off at noon. Visitors congregate inside the oldest beer tent at the festival to watch the Mayor of Munich tap the first Keg and shout O'zapft is! Which translates to ‘It is tapped!.’ Once the first keg has been started, pouring throughout the festival can begin and the beer starts flowing for all.
The Obvious One
Arguably the most obvious tradition of Oktoberfest, and our personal favourite, the beer! The six key breweries of the event bring the main attraction in the gallons. Joining forces are Augustiner, Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau and Lowenbrau. The six legendary breweries serve their beer to attendees from their own individual tents, but don’t worry there will be room for all under these enormous structures, allowing plenty of room for dancing and further antics.
Fuelling The Crowd
Some of you may be able to drink all day with no consequences, but not all of us are so lucky! For those who require a little extra sustenance to keep them going, the festival doesn’t just serve you beer. The food tents throughout the festival will have your mouth watering, you can expect anything from half roasted chicken, pork roast, meatloaf to fish on a stick, but there are countless meals to take care of your appetite. Each tent will likely even offer you new imaginative options to choose from each day. Additionally you will undoubtedly cross paths with delicious pretzels and the traditional Oktoberfest gingerbread hearts.
An Unexpected Dance
A bit of an unexpected Oktoberfest tradition for those of you who are new to the event, the chicken dance! Originally written in the 1950s by a Swiss accordion player named Werner Thomas, the song did not start to join the Oktoberfest festivities until the 1980s, though this was still before it's large commercial success as a party song. As a result of events in the 80’s the Chicken Dance is now a staple move of the festival, getting all kinds of attendees involved in its simple yet lovable moves.
The closing of the festival
The last day of Oktoberfest is memorable as the first. Again at noon attendees gather together, this time at the Bavaria Statue to watch the traditional gun salute take place. This salute is used as a marker of the last day of the festival, kicking off the last afternoon of the festivities with a literal bang. Then, at the end of the day the band plays for one last time as the festival rounds off for the year, by this time all of the bars are now closed and revellers gather and light sparklers that light up each and every one of the beer tents in unison marking the official end of the incredible event. Of course the above is not all there is to see and do at this legendary festival. It’s evolution over the years since the 1800s has culminated in an event that is altogether indescribable, you’d have to experience it yourself to find all there is to see, eat, drink and do. Our fingers are crossed that next year we’ll be able to join you once again in the vast beer tents of Oktoberfest.