The joyous parp of an Oompah band; men in lederhosen with fat, pink legs; huge, foaming steins of beer – the imagery that the traditional German Oktoberfest evokes is pretty much fixed in the mind. It’s somewhere between Grimms’ Fairy Tales and a very big, boozy outdoor party.
But here’s a thing: Oktoberfest has gone international, because beer cuts across cultural, and national boundaries.
So, while the original Munich Oktoberfest gets underway – somewhat confusingly, it starts this month, on 15 September – the good news is that you’ve got a more local option.
Yes, there’s a Manchester Oktoberfest from 18 to 22 October, held right in the middle of the city centre, in Albert Square.
Even if you choose not to pop on your lederhosen, you can still experience the delights of this unique cultural experience closer to home – even in your own living room.
To celebrate Oktoberfest wherever it takes place, BeerHunter is running a special promotion, offering you a special mixed case of German beer – keep reading to find out more.
What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and travelling funfair, or volkfest in German. It’s held every year in Munich, Bavaria, in the south of Germany, just north of the Bavarian Alps.
The Oktoberfest begins before October, and in fact mostly takes place in September, concluding on the first weekend of that month and lasting a total of 16 days.
During this time, over six million people visit it and between them they consume close to eight million litres of beer.
It’s an established part of Bavarian culture but its influence has spread, so that other cities around the world hold their own versions of the Oktoberfest, modelled on the original.
Countries holding their own Oktoberfest or equivalent festivals include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Russia, the USA, and here in the UK.
When Did Oktoberfest Start?
On 12 October 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig marred Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Like most weddings, it involved a big bash, to which the happy couple invited the citizens of Munich. Party time ensued.
This involved a fairground, a horse race, and “tastings” of wine and beer.
The event happened on the fields in front of the city gates, and they were renamed Theresienwiesse, or Therese’s Fields, in honour of the Crown Princess. In fact, the Oktoberfest is still known locally as Wiesn, after the name for the fairgrounds on these fields.
When the celebrations were repeated the following year, without a wedding attached to them, it turned the event into a public festival.
The Napoleonic Wars put a spanner in the works in 1813, leading to the cancellation of the festival. However, after this, it grew, with added attractions such as bowling alleys and swings. The city fathers decided to officially make it an annual event in 1819.
Various things disrupted it in the years to come, including a cholera epidemic and the Austro-Prussia war, but the Oktoberfest endured. The first stalls selling bratwurst appeared in 1891.
It had its 100th anniversary in 1910, and 200th in 2010. At first of these two momentous occasions, people consumed 120,000 litres of beer; at the second the figure was a record seven million litres.
What Happens at Oktoberfest?
There’s more to it than simply consuming gargantuan quantities of ale, though for some that might be enough in itself.
For starters, there’s plenty of eating to accompany the drinking. There is bratwurst, or German sausage, of course. But you’ll also find impressive quantities of roast chicken and pork knuckles. If you end up with meat fatigue, there are also smoked fish and giant pretzels to help soak up all that beer.
If you’re not so keen on beer but have somehow found yourself at Oktoberfest you’ll be pleased to know that there is a wine tent, or Weinzelt, where you can choose from a good selection of German wines.
For those with a sweet tooth, you’ll also find cakes and pastries and strudel to accompany your coffee – when you’ve had enough beer.
Beer, naturally, is the big thing here. You’ll only find beer from Munich breweries served at Oktoberfest. These include Augustiner, Spaten and Paulaner. By far the most popular variety of beer sold is Helles, a traditional, pale lager beer. It’s served only in one-litre glasses, and, yes, you’ll probably see well-built barmaids carrying impressive quantities of them.
Other things to look out for are the various fairground attractions on-site, including some spectacular rides, plus shooting galleries and other stalls – Oktoberfest is also very much a family festival in Germany, despite all that beer.
If the thigh-slapping sound of traditional Bavarian music is your thing – and you never know, if might be – then there’s plenty of it, with lots of live bands doing their thing.
Oktoberfest in Manchester
This year’s Manchester Oktoberfest bash takes place in Albert Square, from 18 to 22 October. There’ll be plenty of German food and drink, and live entertainment.
The aim is to give people an authentic Oktoberfest experience, set in a huge tent with a capacity for 2,000 people, with a giant beer garden attached.
The waiters will be in lederhosen, the waitresses in dirndl skirts, and there’ll be lots of traditional music to sing along, dance and slap your thighs to.
Celebrating Oktoberfest at Home
You don’t necessarily have to go to an Oktoberfest to get a taste of what it’s about, because we can bring it to you.
Through our BeerHunter arm, we’re offering a celebratory mixed case of specially selected beers. Here you’ll find Germany’s best beers, from the local Munich Paulaner, to Berliner Pilsner and Erdinger Weissbier from Bavaria.
Not only that, but you’ll also get some pretzels to munch on and your very own German brewery branded glass to drink your beer selection out of.
Lederhosen are optional, natürlich!
Get In Touch
We’re renowned beer specialists, so check out our site, where we offer a huge variety of craft ales and beers from around the world. Call BeerHunter on 0161 507 8000, or fill in our contact form, and we’ll be in touch shortly.
We’re also wholesale suppliers of drinks and snacks in Bury, serving Lancashire and the entire North West. Pick up the phone and call us on 0161 763 6020. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org