Trip Tips: Munich's Oktoberfest stems from tradition, draws millions

Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:09pm EDT
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By Annika Breidthardt

MUNICH (Reuters) - If you dislike crowds, noise or beer, this is not the time to visit Munich. Even though it is called Oktoberfest, one of the world's largest fun fairs has already started and is drawing in its usual crowd of millions.

But if you do like them, or want the beer despite those other distractions, now's the time to go. The fair, whose start was moved forward into September long ago to profit from the late summer, goes on this year until Oct. 5.

Oktoberfest was first celebrated in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese and invited Munich's citizens to join the party on the Theresienwiesen ("Therese's meadow"), the fields in front of the then city gates.

The traditional Bavarian clothes worn back then are still in fashion now in the huge beer tents run by the city's breweries. Men wear leather shorts called "lederhosen" and women don the dirndl, a dress with an old-fashioned bodice that can range from the austere to the rather revealing.

If you're up for the local look, you can lay your hands on the kit anywhere in Munich from luxury boutiques on Maximilianstrasse to second hand shops in the side streets.

Clad in your new outfit, stroll across the "Wiesn" (fair grounds) and soak up the aroma of cotton candy and roasted almonds and the scent of barley and hops from all that beer.

More than 6 million visitors from Germany and around the world attend the Oktoberfest every year.


A vendor adjusts his display of gingerbread prior to the opening day of the 181st Oktoberfest in Munich, in this file picture taken September 20, 2014. REUTERS/Lukas Barth/Files