It began as one big wedding celebration – a celebration to which all of Munich was invited. In 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxony–Hildburghausen in a city–wide event that lasted five days. It was such a fabulous party that the following year they did it again, and every year since, barring wars and cholera outbreaks. More than two centuries later, Oktoberfest is billed as the biggest folk festival in the world. Although carousels eventually replaced horse races and in 1896 beer stands were upgraded to tents (some seating up to 6,000 revellers at a time), the underlying tradition remains the same: an annual, two–weeks–and–then–some celebration of the autumn harvest defined by thigh–slapping Bavarian music, iconic Bavarian fashion and the best in Bavarian beer. Prost!
Munich Travel Essentials
NYX Hotel Munich Local street art adorns the walls and DJs field requests catering to your current mood in the bar (where dancing is encouraged, if not mandatory) while a retro games room and in–house theatre round out the entertainment on offer at the lively and eclectic NYX Hotel Munich, a convenient 3.5 kilometres from Oktoberfest.
Ruby Lilly Just a 20–minute walk from the fairgrounds, this sleek, efficient hotel offers organic, locally sourced breakfasts of fresh fruit and whole grain buns from nearby Mauerer bakery – a good bet if you’re planning on bratwurst and an oversized pretzel washed down with a litre of beer for lunch.
Fischer–Vroni Fish–on–a–stick is a must in Munich and there’s no better place to find Steckerlfisch than in the family–run Fischer–Vroni beer tent at Oktoberfest. Watch the catch of the day (mackerel, trout, char or whitefish) get charred on an open grill while sampling Augustiner beer served from wooden barrels. While the tent seats over 3,000 people at a time, it’s best to make a reservation as many linger to hear the brass band that has provided a musical backdrop for diners for 30 years.
Lederhosen Michi Originally designed as sturdy workwear for peasants, rafters and farmers, leather lederhosen have evolved into tailor–made fashion pieces crafted with soft deerskin, staghorn buttons and intricate, handstitched embroidery. It’s worth a trip to Michael Krippel’s workshop, Lederhosen Michi, to see how it’s done – or to pick up your own custom pair to don during Oktoberfest. The shop is located just outside Munich in the small village of Riegsee, and Krippel is one of only a handful of lederhosen manufacturers left who make the leather pants by hand with no chemicals or synthetic materials, the traditional way. The shop also stocks leather boots, traditional shirts and suspenders.