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Oktoberfest is fast becoming a popular party theme in the UK with everyone grabbing the chance to combine enjoying a drink and dressing up in Lederhosen!
Oktoberfest - What's it all about?
The festival is a great annual event, whether one has a great love of beer or not. The atmosphere is amazing and the festival is held over 15 days, from the 21st September until October 6th in Munich, Germany. All beers must be brewed within the city limits of Munich and conform to the standards set by the Reinheitsgebot. They must have a minimum of 13.5% Stammwürze, meaning around 6% alcohol by volume, only then can they be classed as Oktoberfest Beer. Some of the breweries that currently meet the necessary criteria are Staatliches Hofbräu-München, Spatenbräu, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu and Paulaner-Bräu.
The origins of the festival began in October, 1810, during the the marriage of the Crown Prince Ludwig, who was later to become King Ludwig I, to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In order for the citizens of Munich to participate in the festivities, the fields at the entrance to the city, later to be known as Theresienwiese, to honour the Crown Princess, were turned into a festival area where the locals were given free ale. Horse races were also held to celebrate the occasion, in the presence of the Royal Family. These days, the festival is one big party, with something for all the family including fairground rides. There is also an Agricultural Show which is still held every three years on the southern part of the ground.
The official start of Oktoberfest is when Munich's Oberbürgermeister, the Lord Mayor, taps the first of the beer kegs in the Schottenhamel Tent. This is a fairly recent addition to the festival which began in 1950, when Thomas Wimmer, the mayor at the time, started the tradition. Nowadays, the Theresienwiese is still the venue for the event, but the locals now refer to it as the "Wies'n".
The great news is that these days it is no longer necessary to travel to Munich to enjoy the amazing atmosphere, as it is now held in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Dublin and Newry in Northern Ireland, all of which put on a superb festival. The London Oktoberfest is held in a tent which holds around 3,300 people over three weekends, the first two being in Kennington Park, Lambeth and the final weekend in Millwall Park, Canary Wharf
One thing is for sure, whichever venue is chosen - an incredible time will be had by all, with a promise to return again the next year!