10 Fun & Amazing Facts about Oktoberfest

in Blog


Oktoberfest has always been a party, but here are a few things you may not have known about this German tradition:

  • Oktoberfest – or “Wies’n” as the citizens of Munich call it, is short for Theresienwiese, which translates to (“Theresa’s fields”).  “Theresa” refers to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildurghausen who married Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig on October 12, 1810 in Munich. The event started to honor the uniting of the Royal Couple.
  • The original Oktoberfest ended with a horse race that was so popular the races continued until 1960.
  • Oktoberfest starts in September. It was moved up to the third week of September to take advantage of more favorable weather.
  • Agriculture is still a big part of the festival. The agricultural show first held in 1811, Bayerisches Zentral-Landwirtschaftsfest, is still held every three years.
  • Yes there is beer, but it is special beer. Oktoberfestbier is the equivalent of eight shots of Schnapps. It’s specially brewed by Munich’s finest breweries for the occasion and is on average about 6% Alcohol by Volume.
  • It’s about the food too. Bratwurst of course, but more Hendl (roast chicken) is sold than Brats.  There is also Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Schweinsbraten (roast pork), Haxn (pork knuckle), Wurstl (sausages), Brezn (pretzel), Knodeln (potato or bread dumplings), Kaasspotzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkraut (pickled red cabbage), Obatzda (a fatty, spiced cheese-butter concoction), and Weisswurst (white sausage).
  • Beer tents started small, but have now grown to the size of the Hofbräu-Festhalle, which seats almost 11,000 people.
  • There is a lost and found at Oktoberfest because alcohol causes people and things to wander off.
  • German efficiency extends to Oktoberfest.  Most bartenders can fill a litre of bier in 1.5 seconds.
  • There is a wine tent at Oktoberfest, but beer is still the more popular option.


Oktoberfest in Munich, Bavaria


  • More than 7.7 million litres of beer is consumer each year by more than 6 million visitors. 
  • Until the end of the 19th century, climbing the trees in the tents was a game. It's not now. 
  • The mayor of Munich always opens Oktoberfest by tapping the first keg and exclaiming O'zapft is! (It's tapped!).
  • The number of strokes to tap the keg by the mayor has become something of a competition. Two is the best. Poor Thomas Wimmer to 19 strokes in 1950. 
  • 12 gunshots are fired to announce the drinking can begin... for 18 days. 
  • Outside of Germany, the largest Oktoberfest celebration is in Kitchener, Ontario. The second biggest is in Brazil. 
  • The lederhosen are knee-length leather breeches and was once traditional work wear. It is illegal not to wear lederhosen or a dirndl at Oktoberfest.* 
  • The women's dirndl was developed in the 18th century after Alpine peasant dress. 
  • There are currently 14 large tents and 20 smaller tents, each run by different breweries. 
  • Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit, translated to 'A toast to cheer and good times' is regularly played through the night and everyone joins in, often standing on benches. 

*Not really. But it should be!