Oktoberfest 2011 Opens in Munich, Germany
The 178th Oktobefest opened at the stroke of noon amidst sunny skies today as Bürgermeister (Lord Mayor) Christian Ude tapped the first keg with two blows of his hammer and shouted “O’zapft is“ (it’s tapped), accompanied by a loud 12-gun salute. The mayor, as tradition dictates, gave the first beer to Horst Seehofer, the Ministerpräsident (premier) of Freistaat Bayern (the Free State of Bavaria).
More than six million visitors are expected to come to Munich for Oktoberfest this year and hotels are almost completely sold out. Last year visitors consumed over 7.1 million Maß (literally a measure but also a liter) of beer. The cost of a Maß has risen to €9.20 this year and the increased price was mentioned frequently in radio and television reports.
Oktoberfest has its origins with the celebration of the marriage of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. To take advantage of better weather, the festival now starts in mid-September.
Oktoberfest itself takes place at the Theresienwiese (Therese meadow, named after King Ludwig’s bride), locally referred to as the Wiesn. It is easily accessible by the public transportation, with a station for the U-4 and U-5 directly at the Wiesn or via the S-Bahn to the Donnersbergerbrücke station.
Only beer brewed in Munich can be served at Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest beer has 5.8 to 6.3% alcohol and a high sugar content compared to 5.2% alcohol and low sugar content in non-Oktoberfest German beer.
In addition to beer, visitors can enjoy a variety of traditional foods including Hendl (chicken), Würstl (sausages), Brezn (pretzels), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Knödel (dumpling), and Bavarian specialties including Obatzda (a spiced cheese spread) and Weißwurst (veal sausage).
This reporter’s day at Oktoberfest included a visit to the Schottenhamel Festhalle and also a visit to the Oide (old, in Bavarian) Wiesn, where we dined outdoors at the Traditionszelt (Traditional Tent), enjoying a half Hendl, a Maß beer, and a Brezn.
At the end of our visit, we attended a performance at the oldest theater show at the Wiesn, “Der Schichtl.” Since 1869, the Schichtl has displayed curiosities and magic. The highlight is the “beheading” of a visitor.
Two changes were in evidence this year, compared to previous years. Smokers risk fines as a strict no smoking policy is being enforced in the 14 beer tents this year and security was tighter than usual with over 500 police officers on duty and 200 concrete blocks protecting the beer tents.
Christian Stampfer contributed to this report.
OKTOBERFEST VIRTUAL TOUR
TRADITIONAL OKTOBERFEST – THE OIDE WIESN VIRTUAL TOUR
DINING AT OKTOBERFEST
OCTOBERFEST AMUSEMENT PARK RIDES