What is Oktoberfest?

The History of Oktoberfest: From Royal Celebration to Global Phenomenon

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, from which I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Ale Affair.

Embarking on a journey to discover the history of Oktoberfest reveals more than just a beer festival; it uncovers a legacy steeped in tradition and cultural significance. Originating in 1810 in Munich to celebrate a royal wedding, Oktoberfest has transformed into a global phenomenon. But why is this festivity, named after October, predominantly celebrated in September? As we explore Oktoberfest’s evolution, prepare to be intrigued by its compelling history and fun facts that highlight its unique place in German culture and on the world stage. Join us as we unweave the fascinating story behind Oktoberfest and possibly a stein or two.

What is the History of Oktoberfest?

Let’s take a journey back over 200 years to Munich, Germany, and trace the history of Oktoberfest. The festival began in 1810 as a public festivity to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Initially, the event was marked by horse races and simple revelry, but it soon became a favourite among the locals. Over time, Oktoberfest evolved into a quintessentially Bavarian celebration featuring beer tents, parades, and traditional Bavarian music.

In the mid-19th century, the introduction of said beer tents, which were initially small beer stands, transformed the festival into a more familiar format. These tents were eventually replaced by larger halls sponsored by Munich’s breweries, which accommodated more visitors and defined the festival’s beer-centric identity.

The integration of Bavarian culture was pivotal in defining Oktoberfest’s character. Lederhosen and dirndls became synonymous with the celebration, as did the hearty, traditional Bavarian fare like pretzels, bratwurst, and roast chicken. The festival also became a stage for showcasing Bavarian music and folk dances, adding a vibrant cultural dimension to the beer-drinking festivities.

Bavarian Oompah Band
Bavarian Oompah Band

Oktoberfest has withstood interruptions only due to significant historical events like wars and pandemics, highlighting the festival’s resilience and its importance in Bavarian culture. The event’s ability to adapt and grow over centuries is a testament to its enduring appeal.

It’s worth noting that despite its name, Oktoberfest predominantly occurs in September. Nevertheless, understanding the historical and cultural journey of this iconic festival is essential. From a royal celebration to an international event, Oktoberfest’s history is as rich and varied as the brews it celebrates.

Why is Oktoberfest Not in October?

The intriguing question of why Oktoberfest, a name explicitly referencing October, primarily unfolds in September is a blend of practicality and tradition. This scheduling quirk dates back to the festival’s early years and is a strategic decision rooted in the Bavarian climate.

Initially, Oktoberfest began in October. However, as the festival grew in popularity and size, the organisers recognised the potential benefits of milder weather. September in Munich offers pleasant, warmer days and cooler evenings, ideal for outdoor festivities and gatherings in beer tents. This shift not only enhanced the comfort of attendees but also extended the festival’s duration, allowing more time for celebrations and economic activities.

By moving the start date to mid or late September, Oktoberfest could leverage these optimal weather conditions while still maintaining its historical connection to October. The festival typically concludes on the first Sunday of October, preserving its name’s relevance. This strategic timing ensures a seamless blend of enjoyable weather and the rich cultural traditions of the festival, maximising the overall experience for millions of visitors from around the globe.

This decision to start Oktoberfest in September also underscores the festival’s evolution from a local celebration to a world-renowned event. As it grew into a global phenomenon, the importance of accommodating a diverse and international crowd became paramount. The hospitable September weather not only draws in more visitors but also enhances the festive atmosphere, making it a more memorable and enjoyable experience.

Next, let’s explore the top fun facts about Oktoberfest; it’s clear that this festival is a well-thought-out blend of history, tradition, and practical considerations, all contributing to its status as a world-class cultural event.

Top Oktoberfest Fun Facts

Oktoberfest, a spectacular blend of tradition and festivity, is brimming with intriguing facts. Here are some highlights that capture the essence of this iconic event:

Oktoberfest fun facts
Oktoberfest fun facts
  1. Exclusive Munich Beer: Only beer brewed within Munich’s city limits, adhering to the Bavarian Purity Requirements of using only water, barley, and hops, is served at Oktoberfest, making it a true celebration of local brewing traditions. This exclusive selection includes beers from six renowned Munich breweries: Augustiner, Hofbräu, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten, and Löwenbräu.
  2. Resilience Through History: While there are some discrepancies, it is thought that Oktoberfest has only been cancelled around 25 times in over two centuries. This is primarily due to wars, cholera and COVID-19 outbreaks, underscoring its enduring popularity and significance.
  3. Adidas’ Vomit-Proof Sneakers: Reflecting the festival’s intensity, Adidas once released a limited edition of vomit-proof sneakers specifically for Oktoberfest, showcasing its unique influence on popular culture.
  4. Local Name ‘Wiesn’: In Munich, Oktoberfest is affectionately known as “Wiesn,” named after the Theresienwiese field where it’s held, which in turn was named after Princess Therese.
  5. Official Opening Ritual: The festival officially begins only after the Mayor of Munich taps the first beer keg, declaring, “O’ zapft is!” (It’s tapped!), a tradition dating back to 1950.
  6. Bavarian Hat Symbolism: The traditional Bavarian hats worn during the festival, adorned with tufts of goat hair, once symbolized wealth, though now they are more of a fashion statement with synthetic tufts.
  7. Beer Prices and ConsumptionA litre of beer at Oktoberfest starts at around €10.70, and in 2018, attendees drank a staggering 7.5 million litres of beer.

These facts highlight Oktoberfest’s rich history and cultural significance and its quirky and fascinating aspects, making it a truly unique global event.


The Oktoberfest is an annual occasion that originated in 1810 to celebrate a royal marriage. It has since become a global phenomenon deeply rooted in Bavarian tradition. Despite its name, it primarily takes place in September to take advantage of better weather. With over 7 million litres of beer consumed and a fascinating array of lost and found items, Oktoberfest has a significant economic impact. The event offers a unique blend of history, culture, and fun facts, making it an exciting and vibrant global event. Prost!

Share Now!

Raise a glass to knowledge! Each article you share pours a little more wisdom into the world, frothing with ideas and bubbling with insights.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top