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Germany: Oktoberfest to Welcome Six Million Visitors

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The Oktoberfest started when Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12th, 1810. People were invited to drink and celebrate on a field called Theresienwiese. The royal couple is not alive anymore, but the location is. So is the drinking.

Coming together and drinking like crazy, while listening to Bavarian music: The concept of the Oktoberfest is as simple as it is convincing. So, the fact that the traditional event has been exported is not really a surprise.

The Oktoberfest Chicago offers “steins”, whatever they think that is, and sausages at 14 spots in the Windy City, including ‘The Duck Inn’, the ‘Bottlefork’ and the ‘Frontier’. “Sharing a few steins and sausages is sure to make the changing of the seasons more bearable”, the Chicago Tribune accurately states.

In the Valencia neighbourhood of Santa Clarita (California), a local brewery is staging an Oktoberfest too. And in the beautiful Mexican town of Morelia, the same event will kick off on October 20th. The Mexican organizers have improved the original concept a little. Instead of drinking only, it says “¡Amor, alegría y cerveza fría!“, love, joy and cold beer. Muy simpático, paisanos!

The virus is spreading in Europe as well. In Budapest, the Oktoberfest at Kincsem Park is scheduled to commence on September 27th. Brașov, in Central Romania, is in it too, with an Oktoberfest at the Stadionul Municipal.

Bavarians simply call the Oktoberfest ‘Wiesn’. The original is scheduled to start on September 20th, in countless beer tents all over the Theresienwiese. In Bavaria, even politicians need to get drunk at the event. So, why is that? Well, because.

In 1910, when the ‘Wiesn’ celebrated its 100th anniversary, the ‘Pschorr-Bräurosl’ tent was the largest ever. It accommodated 12,000 guests. Back then, 12,000 hectoliters of beer were served. The drinking had to stop during the two world wars. The Oktoberfest was cancelled then. For the 200th anniversary, in 2010, additional historic tents were set up. We will see what they will come up with in 2110. Maybe they will serve more pretzels.

Tragedy struck on September 26th, 1980, when a bomb exploded at the main entrance to the event. Thirteen people died on the spot, including Gundolf Köhler, the culprit.

Today, the Oktoberfest is the biggest public festival of them all, on the entire planet. Critics of this kind of German culture might call it the largest beer orgy of all time, or the craziest meeting of potential alcoholics.

But Bavarians and international tourists can’t get enough of the Schuhplattler dances, the pretzels, the fluids and of urinating all over the ‘Wiesn’. Many Americans show up every year. So do Japanese and Australian visitors, and of course the Austrians, the Dutch and the Italians.

As many as 6 million visitors a year come to the original Oktoberfest by now. In 2010, more than 7 million liters of beer were served, and consumed. The operators of the fourteen huge beer tents on site are being forced to play Bavarian brass music until 6:00 p.m. every night, and Pop music later. The organizers say, that way the ‘Wiesn’ would remain attractive for families as well. Very convincing.

A giant wheel and countless other amusement rides are also being set up. They will make the drunk throw up even more. But that’s what all the fun is about.

In Munich, all ways lead to the Oktoberfest in Munich. The location can be accessed easily from one of these three U-Bahn (subway, underground, metro) station: Theresienwiese, Schwanthalerhöhe and Goetheplatz.

Oh, by the way, there is a problem. It’s the average beer price at the ‘Wiesn’, which will be a scandalous 11.24 Euro (13.12 U.S. Dollars or 10 Pounds Sterling) per liter.

The event will be open Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., while no beer will be served after 10:30 p.m., at least officially. On Saturdays and Sundays, the ‘Wiesn’ opens at 9:00 a.m. and closes at midnight. Two tents will be open until 1:00 a.m.. More details can be found here, on the Oktoberfest’s official website.

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