"Ozapft is" starts Germany's October festivals

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Silence at one of the three empty tent halls for the Wittlich October festival after ongoing preparations. This will change, Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m., when the festival kicks off. At this time, the mayor will open the first keg of beer and shout out the most famous Bavarian words "Ozapft is," This means that the festival is then officially open. Free beer will be served. A band will lead in activities soon afterwards. Although it is not a must, some people will dress up in Bavarian outfits to blend in and enjoy the fun. (U.S. Air Force photo by Iris Reiff)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Silence at one of the three empty tent halls for the Wittlich October festival after ongoing preparations. This will change, Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m., when the festival kicks off. At this time, the mayor will open the first keg of beer and shout out the most famous Bavarian words "Ozapft is," This means that the festival is then officially open. Free beer will be served. A band will lead in activities soon afterwards. Although it is not a must, some people will dress up in Bavarian outfits to blend in and enjoy the fun. (U.S. Air Force photo by Iris Reiff)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Blue and white are the colors for Bavaria. Most decorations at the October festivals carry these colors like this beautiful wreath that hangs in one of the October festival tent halls, ready to be admired.(U.S. Air Force photo by Iris Reiff)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Blue and white are the colors for Bavaria. Most decorations at the October festivals carry these colors like this beautiful wreath that hangs in one of the October festival tent halls, ready to be admired.(U.S. Air Force photo by Iris Reiff)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Celebrate an October festival right here in the Eifel, in Wittlich
For those base members who don't want to travel all the way to Munich to enjoy the October festival fun, a local festival is an option and will start Sept. 27in Wittlich.

The official opening ceremony, when city officials, organizers and guests jointly tap the first keg of beer and the mayor shouts "Ozapft is," takes place at. Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. Free beverages will be served from the first barrel, and live entertainment and traditional Bavarian music will start afterwards.

Presently, preparations are in full swing at the white-blue tent halls in Wittlich, located on Roentgenstrasse 13, 54516 Wittlich.

Starting Sept. 27 through Oct. 31, residents have a chance to celebrate Oktoberfest on 18 days, Friday through Sunday, on five weekends in a row. The festival will also be open the evening of Oct. 2, when a German concert show is scheduled, that will require an entry fee. The festival will also be open Oct. 3, which is a German holiday.

Keep in mind that there will be shows or concerts on several nights throughout the October festival, including Oct. 2, that require entry tickets. The tickets will sell fast and must be purchased ahead of time.

The festival area is about 4,000 square meters, offering some 2,400 seats to visitors, with space for a total of 4,000 people.

About 40,000 visitors are expected to arrive for the event, which is the largest October festival in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, were Wittlich is located. There will be approximately 40 security guards and additional medical personnel to assist any in need.

Sundays are family days. Local bands will start performing at noon in Wittlich. There is no table reservation and entry is free. Food will be available for purchase.

According to organizers, the most popular food item at the Wittlich festival has been Schnitzel. Other popular dishes are chicken and pork knuckle.

Half a "Mass" of beer (half a liter) is 3,90 Euro at the Wittlich festival, the cost for a "Mass," a full liter is 7,50 Euro, which is more than two Euros less of what is asked at the Munich October festival.

Organizers encourage visitors to consume alcohol responsibly and establish a designated driver ahead of time. Police controls will be enforced and security guards will be on hand.

There are entry fees to several events at the festival and tickets have to be purchased beforehand. Group reservations will have to be made in advance. For more information and an a festival entertainment schedule, or to buy tickets to a concert, or to reserve a table for a group at the Wittlich October festival, visit www.oktoberfestival-wittlich.de. Note that this site is not accessible from a government computer.

Because the festival is quite popular, group reservations it is recommended to make any group table reservations early in time.

There is a bus shuttle that anyone can take from Trier, Ehrang, Konz, Schweich, Sirzenich, Bitburg, Pruem, Gerolstein, Daun and, Luxembourg City to the Wittlich festival.

Round trip to the Wittlich October festival is nine Euros per person on Fridays, Saturdays and on Oct. 31 for the scheduled Halloween festival.

People pay the driver when boarding the bus, but, it is recommended to reserve seats on the bus online ahead of time, at www.octoberfest-wittlich.de/anfahrt.

A bus will leave at 6:30 p.m. from Bitburg Bedaplatz and arrive in Wittlich at 7 p.m. The bus will leave Wittlich at 1:30 a.m. to go back to Bitburg.
A bus will leave at 6 p.m. from the Trier main station bus stop Nr. 7, which is Bussteig 7 in German, arrive in Wittlich at 7 p.m. The bus will leave Wittlich at 1:30 a.m. to go back to Trier. Times for the additional cities mentioned above will be listed on www.octoberfest-wittlich.de/anfahrt, a site which is not accessible from a government computer.

Officials will check IDs or passports for age at the entrance of the tent halls. Youngsters, age 16 and below must leave the festival by midnight.


"Ozapft is" in Munich
Munich's October festival officially started running through Oct. 6

After Munich's Lord Mayor, Herr Christian Ude, tapped the first keg of beer at noon Sept. 21, he shouted out the words "Ozapft is," meaning "the barrel is tapped"... and the world-famous October festival is officially opened.

This year, the world-famous festival will run through Oct. 6, with more than six million visitors expected to visit the "Theresienwiesen," or "Wiesn" festival grounds to enjoy the fun. The festival grounds were named after Princess Therese from Sachsen-Hildburghausen, later the spouse of King Ludwig I. of Bavaria. The word Wiese or Wiesn' stands for meadow.

Although it is not a must, many October festival visitors dress in the original Bavarian style wear, which includes a Dirndl dress for the ladies and Lederhosen for the guys.

This year, Germany's biggest bash celebrates the approaching fall season for the 180th time and offers 14 giant beer tents, featuring more than 200 attractions, rides and side shows.

According to festival organizers, many new rides and attractions are available to the visitors this year.
Among the ride novelties are the "Odyssey," the highest transportable free-fall tower at 70 meters as well as the "Cobra" and the "Pirate Adventure" ride attractions.

For those who are not into amusement rides and would rather experience the October festival environment, the foot-tapping music of brass bands in the tents is very unique and fantastic. People often swing back and forth to the traditional music, singing and cheering in the festival tents.

It's noteworthy that about six breweries will be present with their own brews. Beer is the number one beverage at the October festival, and it's quite an experience to see how the waitresses manage to carry several one-liter-tall mugs in both hands, jogging through the aisles of the tents.

The prices for a one liter "Mass" of beer will run between 9.40 and 9.85 Euro in 2013 at the Munich October festival.

Don't worry; visitors will be able to purchase alcohol-free beers and other beverages at the event as well. Prices vary, but are typically higher at Germany's most popular festival.

When it comes to the Bavarian festival food available, they typically offer pork knuckles or the traditional Weisswurst sausage with sweet mustard, Sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Other Bavarian style treats will also be available, not to forget the famous salt pretzel. But, people will also be able to purchase the regular German food snacks, such as Bratwurst, French, etc. at the Wiesn' grounds.

According to festival organizers, the most popular souvenir items, which can also be purchased in most tents, are the famous colorful Steins, or beer mugs with different patterns, the "Lebkuchen" gingerbread heart and pretzels.

The October festival grounds are open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. Access may be denied after 10 p.m. into the tents.

Depending on how crowded the "Wiesn" are, people will not be able to enter all the tents at any time and may be turned away to try returning later.
On weekends and on Oct. 3, which is a German federal holiday, the tents typically open one hour earlier.

In order to avoid large crowds, it is recommended to visit the October festival during the day, rather than in the evenings or on weekends. This applies especially if you have children in your group.

Beware that October festival doesn't have any official parking facilities located in the vicinity of the grounds. People must take public transportation to and from the festival. It is recommended to park away from the "Wiesn" grounds and possibly take the "U-Bahn" underground train to the festival.

Visitors are encouraged to watch their personal belongings, including phones, purses and wallets, during their visit at the "Theresien" grounds. Every year, about 4,000 items are either stolen or left behind at the event.

Police controls are enforced throughout the festival to prevent people from consuming alcohol and driving.

For more details on the Munich October festival or to find a hotel, visit the October Fest's web site at http://www.oktoberfest.de/de.

Facts:
· The 180th October festival 2013 takes place from noon, Sept. 21 until 11:30 p.m., Oct. 6.
· Most festival tents are open from 10 a.m. until 11.30 p.m. weekdays and a bit later on the weekends.
· Beverages will be served until 10:30 p.m. There are only two exceptions, which are the "Käfer's Wiesnschänke" facility and the "Weinzelt" or October festival Wine Tent. These facilities offer extended opening times until 1 p.m., serving customers up to 12:15 a.m.
· Rides will be open between 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and until midnight, Saturdays.
· Festival organizers recommend not bringing small children in strollers on weekends and in the evenings.
· Depending on large numbers of visitors, strollers are not allowed inside the tents. Strollers may already be denied at the entrance of the festival grounds or at the entrance of the tents.
· Strollers and luggage can be stored in designated areas at the fairgrounds. However, it may be difficult to find the storage areas.
· Official family days are Tuesdays, from noon to 6 p.m.
· Reduced prices are offered on rides during family days.

Tips & Hints:
· It is not a must to wear traditional Bavarian outfits, such as Dirndl dresses or Lederhosen to the October festival, but it has become a tradition amongst tourists and visitors.
· Wear good walking shoes and bring a jacket and an umbrella
· Watch your items, such as jewelry, wallets, purses, cameras and phones.
· Don't bring any small children to the October festival in the evenings, especially on weekends.
· Prices are typically high for food and beverages at the Munich October festival, especially inside the tents.
· Park at your hotel or in a suburb of Munich and take public transportation to the "Theresienwiesen" festival grounds.
· Only bring a limited amount of cash to the festival.