Munich’s Octoberfest: Germany’s biggest bash is just around the corner

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- One of the biggest bashes in Germany is the Munich October Festival, or Oktoberfest. It runs for 16 days, ending on the first Sunday in October. The huge "Volksfest" is held on the Theresienwiese in Munich with a large number of visitors and an immense consumption of beer and white sausage.

The reason for its creation was a wedding in 1810 in the Bavarian ruling house, in honor of which a horse race and public festival were held.

The following year the festival was repeated and expanded by an agricultural exhibit to give Bavarians' agriculture impetus for development and improvement. Today, the Munich October festival is one of the largest, most popular festivals in the world.

The Lord Mayor of Munich says "Ozapft is," meaning "the barrel is tapped," after tapping the first keg of beer at noon Sept. 18, officially opening the world-famous festival.

Opening festivities include the "Grand Entry" of the October festival landlords and participating breweries at 10:50 a.m. Sept. 18, coming from Sonnenstrasse, arriving at the Wiesn' fairgrounds. This is the festive prelude to the inauguration of the festival, featuring beautiful carriages, bearing the landlord's families and splendid horse-drawn carts, owned by Munich's breweries; October festival waitresses waving from decorated floats, music bands performing and more. Thousands of observers stand along the road every year, watching the spectacle.

The October festival anniversary costume and riflemen's parade is also a popular event, taking place at 9:40 a.m. Sept. 19 and where various groups dressed in traditional, Bavarian outfits and costumes, music and marching bands, as well as trumpeters, amateurs and mountain riflemen participated in the two-hour parade, starting from Maximinplatz and ending on Esperantoplatz. The city becomes very crowded for the event.

Overall, six million visitors make their way to the largest folk festival in the world every year.

The foot-tapping music of the brass bands in the beer tents is typical for and popular at Oktoberfest. On the Theresienwiesen or Wiesn' grounds, people can find more than 200 attractions, rides and sideshows. Entertainment and fun will be featured everywhere on the grounds.

October festival beer from six major breweries is served in 14 large beer tents with a total seating capacity for 100,000 guests.

The October festival is open daily from 9 or 10 a.m.-midnight. The popular "Kaefers Wiesnschaenke" and "Weinzelt" tents are open until 1 a.m.; last call for entry is at 12:15 a.m.

There are no parking facilities located in the vicinity of the October festival grounds. People must take public transportation to and from the festival. Police controls are enforced throughout the festival to prevent people from consuming alcohol and driving.