As soon as the calendar rolls over to October, many folks raise a glass (or a stein) to the oh-so-happy celebration of Oktoberfest. But there are a few things about this foamy festival that you might not be aware of…
1. Oktoberfest started as a Marriage Feast. The first Oktoberfest was in 1810 Oktoberfest was held in 1810, as a wedding feast in honor of the union of Bavarian King Ludwig I and Maria Theresia of Saxonia.
2. It’s off to the races, except now the races are just off. The original Oktoberfest festival included horse races – in fact, some people credit with the decision to repeat the horse races as the sole reason Oktoberfest continued past the first year’s marriage celebration. The horses stayed a central part of the festivities until 1938.
3. It’s truly a family event – because the drinking age is as low as 14. The legal drinking age for beer and wine in Germany is 16 years old, and you can legally join in the festivities at just 14, if you’re accompanied by an adult.
4. It’s so much fun, it’s easy to lose yourself… and a few other things. Over the years, people have lost more than a few interesting items at Oktoberfest, included 350 cell phones, 520 wallets, over 1,000 passports, 370 pairs of glasses, 425 sets of keys, and at least one set of dentures. Not to mention 48 children (all eventually found). My personal favorite…one lost Viking helmet.
5. Oktoberfest is actually… in September! Probably the biggest surprise of all: the official Oktoberfest held In Munich each year actually begins in September, not October. The start date was moved up to take advantage of the warmer early-fall weather. The festival now runs from the first Saturday after September 15, and lasts for about 16 days.
So, even though we’ve technically missed the celebration, it’s never too early to start planning for next year!
Bonus: Oktoberfest celebrations can be found all over the United States, including Nashville, Boston, Cincinnati, and the largest of them all is in Denver.