When the clock strikes noon on Saturday the 19th of September, Munich’s Mayor Dieter Reiter will tap the first barrel of beer and officially begin Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is one of the world’s largest festivals with over 6 million people consuming 1.5 million gallons of beer, 200,000 pairs of pork sausages and 480,000 spit-roasted chickens over a two week period.

The festival has become a world-famous event, copied in cities around the world. However, none of these Oktoberfest-like festivals measure up to the real thing. If you are going to travel to Germany for Oktoberfest or celebrate the festival overseas, make sure to get travel insurance which can cover you for the journey. Oktoberfest does come with a few risks as one of the world’s largest festivals, with the Red Cross treating more than 700 patients on the first day of 2014.

Fast Cover Travel Insurance provides travel insurance for travellers heading to Europe. They offer unlimited cover for medical expenses, hospital expenses and cancellations. 44 pre-existing medical conditions are also automatically covered and their prices are competitive.

“If you become sick, injured, have your luggage lost or stolen or your plans are unexpected cancelled, you can make a claim to help with expenses,” Fast Cover’s CEO Dean Van Es said. “Obviously if you injure yourself after having 12 steins and deciding you’ll impress a crowd with a backflip, you probably won’t be able to make a claim.”

Drink in moderation and enjoy all the aspects of Oktoberfest, which has grown into a huge festival over its 200 year history.


The History of Oktoberfest

The size of Oktoberfest continues to grow year to year as one of the world’s favourite festivals for its combination of beer, food and amusement rides. Who could have guessed it would grow to this level 205 years ago, where it began as a celebration for a royal wedding?

Locally, Oktoberfest is known as Wiesn, shortened from the name of the fairground, Theresienwiese.  The fairground was named after Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, who married Prince Ludwig on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate with a festival held on the fields with a horse race held to end the celebrations.

And the next year, the horse races were held again. The tradition of Oktoberfest started. The festival originally took place 16 days before the first Sunday in October. This only changes if the first Sunday falls on the 1s or 2nd of October, then it goes until German Unity Day on October 3rd.

During the 19th century Oktoberfest expanded to include an agricultural show, tree climbing, bowling, carnival booths and other attractions. The festival became a public festival in 1819 and was made an annual event. The festival was lengthened and the date pushed forward so that it occurred on the warmer, longer days at the end of September.

A parade has been an essential part of Oktoberfest since 1850. Some eight thousand people march in traditional costumes, headed by the Münchner Kindl, the mascot of the city.


Since 1850 the statue of Bavaria has watched over Oktoberfest’s celebrations. The statue was constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller.

The horse races ended in 1960, but there are plenty of other activities to experience.

Since it began, Oktoberfest has been cancelled 24 times. It was cancelled in 1854 due to a cholera epidemic, 1866 due to the Austro-Prussian War, 1870 due to the Franco-Prussian War and 1877 due to another cholera epidemic.  It also wasn’t held during World War I and World War II from 1939 to 1945. In 1919 and 1920 a small autumn festival called “kleineres Herbstfest” was held. The small Autumn Festival was also held from 1946 to 1948 after the war.

The traditional beer-tapping opening has occurred since 1950, beginning with Mayor Thomas Wimmer. And now millions of people come to enjoy the beer brewed in Munich, traditional hearty food and rides.

Will you be going to Munich to celebrate this year?

Fast Cover

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Note: The Heritage Travels does not receive any compensation from this post.

2 Replies to “205 Years of Beer”

  1. I’ve been to Oktoberfest twice and had a blast both times. I think it’s something everyone should experience once. The fair part gets overlooked, but the rides are great for families! (Tara)

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