Munich Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

The Munich Oktoberfest is one of the largest folk festivals in the world and takes place on the Theresienwiese in Munich. Every year, about 6 million people visit the humid and cheerful spectacle.

The Munich Oktoberfest is one of the largest folk festivals in the world and one of our top 10 attractions in Germany. It has been held since 1810 on Munich's Theresienwiese - known to those in the know as the "Wiesn" - and is now visited by an incredible 6 million people every year.


Meanwhile, more and more visitors from abroad come especially for this, mainly from Italy, the USA, Australia and Japan. The festival always starts in mid-September and lasts 16 - 18 days until the beginning of October. During this time, the city of Munich is virtually in a state of emergency.

Why is the Oktoberfest called Oktoberfest?

A waitress in one of the marquees at the Munich Oktoberfest, Germany - © Mammut Vision / Fotolia
© Mammut Vision / Fotolia

The Munich Oktoberfest starts in mid-September - curious. But it was not always so. The first Oktoberfest lasted from October 12 to 17. Due to the better weather, in the years that followed, the humid and cheerful spectacle was moved to the warmer month of September - and this has continued to this day.

The original purpose of Oktoberfests in Bavaria was to use up the Märzen beer still in storage before the new brewing season. In the meantime, not much of this has remained. In the meantime, a special Märzen beer with an increased alcohol content (6 to 7 percent) is brewed for the Oktoberfest.

Opening of the Oktoberfest - Entry of the Oktoberfest hosts

In its current form, the procession of the Wiesnwirte at the Munich Oktoberfest has existed since 1935, the first time all breweries took part in the procession together, Germany - © Kochneva Tetyana/Shutterstock
© Kochneva Tetyana/Shutterstock

Since the year 1887, the Oktoberfest in Munich has started literally accompanied by kettledrums and trumpets, with the entry of the Wiesnwirte. This tradition was founded by the Oktoberfest innkeeper Hans Steyrer, who marched from his inn in Tegernseer Landstraße to the Theresienwiese for the first time in 1887 with his entire staff and a huge load of beer.

Every year more and more imitators were found and in 1935 it was the first time that really all innkeepers, who were represented at the Wiesn, moved in a closed procession to the Oktoberfest - the traditional procession of the Wiesn innkeepers was born, which since then is also led every year by the Münchner Kindl.

In 1950, the mayor of Munich was added to the parade, taking his place in the line of floats just behind the Münchner Kindl. Behind him follow to this day the innkeepers on their elaborately decorated horse-drawn carriages and floats, whose own bands accompany the exuberant spectacle.

PICTURES: Entry of the Wiesnwirte at the Oktoberfest

Photo gallery: Entry of the Wiesnwirte at the Oktoberfest


Traditional tapping of the barrel

Punctually at 12:00 noon, the mayor of Munich taps the first beer keg, which has always been in the "tent of youth", the Shottenhamel. As soon as the Lord Mayor has shouted "O'zapft is!", the Oktoberfest is officially opened and the celebrations can begin.

So that the other Wiesnwirte also learn of the tapping, 12 gun salutes are fired shortly after the Lord Mayor's proclamation. Traditionally, the Bavarian Prime Minister is served the first Oktoberfest beer of the year. After that, the annual supporting program with dancing, music and other events starts.

Day 2 of the Oktoberfest - the costume parade

Many groups and participants also travel to Munich from abroad for the traditional costume parade, Oktoberfest, Germany - © Kochneva Tetyana/Shutterstock
© Kochneva Tetyana/Shutterstock

The very next day, on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest, the next highlight of the Oktoberfest takes place with the traditional costume parade. This was first held in honor of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who celebrated his silver wedding anniversary with his wife Princess Therese in 1835.

60 years later there was the next parade, which was initiated by the writer Maximilian Schmidt and already displayed 1400 traditional costumes. However, it was not until 1950 that the traditional costume parade became a fixed part of the Oktoberfest. Since then, fans of traditional costumes have met every year at the Maximilianeum and marched seven kilometers to the Festwiese, accompanied by cheerful brass music.

Meanwhile, the traditional costume parade - also led by the Münchner Kindl - has even become one of the highlights of the Oktoberfest, with up to 8,000 people dressed in traditional costume taking part every year. This makes the Oktoberfest's Trachtenzug the largest such procession in the world.

Tip: You want to participate in the traditional costume parade? Applications for this are to be sent to Festring München e.V. - however, the registration deadline is already in January of the respective Oktoberfest year!

PICTURES: Traditional costume parade at the Oktoberfest

Photo gallery: Traditional costume parade at the Oktoberfest

The marquees at the Munich Oktoberfest

With nearly 10,000 seats, the Hacker Festzelt is not only one of the largest, but also the most beautifully decorated marquee at Oktoberfest, Germany - © Softeis CC BY-SA3.0/W
© Soft ice cream CC BY-SA3.0/W

The core of the Oktoberfest are, of course, the marquees of the Munich breweries Spatenbräu, Paulaner, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr and Augustiner. In total, there are over 30 marquees, but they can always be closed at short notice due to overcrowding.

PICTURES: Marquees of the Munich Oktoberfest

Photo gallery: Munich Oktoberfest marquees


Showmen and rides

The rides are always busy at the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany - © Intrepix / Shutterstock
© Intrepix / Shutterstock

For the "people's amusement" there are about 200 showmen companies at the Oktoberfest. With partly nostalgic but also state-of-the-art rides, they provide entertainment and thrills at the Wiesn. The rides have such sounding names as "Pitt's wall of death", "Feldl's devil's wheel", "Hex'n Wipp'n", "Flip Fly", "Freefall", or "Power Tower II".

Among the most famous are "Olympia Looping", with five loops the largest mobile roller coaster in the world, the giant "Star Flyer 48", which whirls its passengers in circles in 24 double seats at a dizzying height, and of course the classic Ferris wheel, which offers its passengers a dreamlike view over the Wiesn from a height of almost 50 meters.

PICTURES: Rides at the Munich Oktoberfest

Rides at the Munich Oktoberfest

Attention motorists!

During the Oktoberfest there are many stopping bans in Munich - especially around the Oktoberfest, of course. These are rigorously controlled by the police and it is mercilessly and extremely quickly towed away. Therefore, it is best to stay away from the Oktoberfest, or to travel publicly, who wants to visit it (which is recommended anyway with the probably high beer consumption).

Attention beer stein collectors!

The beer steins used in the festival tents for serving beer are the property of the respective breweries. Taking such a stein is theft and will be brought to Advertisement by the festival hosts without exception. You can also buy the Maßkrüge officially, these are then marked accordingly so that you are not arrested as a Maßkrug thief. In 2010, 70,000 steins were confiscated by law enforcement officers at the exits.

Facts and figures about the Oktoberfest in Munich

The centerpiece of every Oktoberfest is the large marquees of the Munich breweries, Germany - © Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
© Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
  • The festival area is 31 hectares.
  • There are 100,000 seats for visitors.
  • 6 to 7 million people visit the festival every year.
  • 12,000 people work at the "Wiesn".
  • 1,800 toilets are available.
  • Every year, 1,000 tons of residual waste are generated.
  • Approximately 7.5 million liters of beer and 500,000 Brathendl are consumed annually.
  • Annual sales are estimated at 1 billion euros.
  • Around 4,000 possessions are lost at the Wiesn every year. From cell phones to items of clothing and glasses to keys and ID cards, quite a few have already been found. Even the one or other denture was among the found objects.
  • Every year at the exits tens of thousands of steins are confiscated by the law enforcement officers who wanted to smuggle thieving visitors off the premises.

PICTURES: Munich Oktoberfest by night

Photo gallery: Munich Oktoberfest by night

Related links:


Official site of the Munich Oktoberfest