Entertainment & Events

History of Oktoberfest

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While Oktoberfest got its start in Germany, it has grown to a celebration throughout the world. Even though the two-week festival of culture and beer reaches cities all over the world, Oktoberfest is still the largest in its birthplace of Munich, Bavaria, with people from all over the globe clearing their schedules to attend each year.

The giant celebration known as Oktoberfest began with a royal wedding in Munich, Bavaria, Germany in 1810, where Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, later to be King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

Wanting his wedding to be a giant event and celebrated by the masses, the Prince arranged an open festival to be held on the fields in front of the city gates. He invited all the citizens of Munich to attend and organized a horse race to close the festivities. The event was so beloved that it was decided to replicate the horse race the following year, adding on an agriculture show as well.

Over the years, Oktoberfest began to take shape, eventually cutting the horse race out of the festival and holding the agriculture show every three years. Over time many more features were added, including carousels, swings, food, and beer stands that gave way for entire tents and halls dedicated to drinking Munich-brewed beer.

While Oktoberfest has reached far and is celebrated in many different countries, Munich still has the largest festival in the world, and people from all over make it their yearly vacation spot.

The festivities are still held on the same fields they were back in 1810, now named Theresienwiese (often shortened to “Wies’n”), meaning “Theresa’s Fields,” in honor of the Princess.

With roller coasters, carousels, games, music, performances, food stands, events, a hall that can fit 94,000 people, and copious amounts of beer, Munich’s festival continues to outshine every other attempt. While it began as a brief wedding celebration, today it has been stretched out to span two weeks, beginning in the third weekend of September and ending on the first Sunday of October.

That means that this year’s Oktoberfest runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 2, and if you aren’t able to immediately hop on a plane to Germany, you may want to check out the many Oktoberfest festivals going on right now in and around San Diego. Many events take place throughout October. Stay tuned to the Entertainer for a detailed list of events in which to partake.

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