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The Secret History of Oktoberfest: Why September Claims the Start of the World's Biggest Beer Festival!

Oktoberfest is the world's largest beer festival, held annually in Munich, Germany, from mid or late September to the first Sunday of October. Though it was originally an October event, it has shifted to September in the past few years due to the weather conditions. Because the days in October were cold, damp, and shorter, the management has decided to begin the festival in September, during which the weather is quite pleasant in Bavaria for the festive activities. 

First Oktoberfest Celebration 

The name comes from the history of Wiesn. The first Oktoberfest was celebrated in 1810 in October as a wedding ceremony of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities were first planned for October 12th and were later extended for several days due to their immense popularity.

When Oktoberfest Dates Evolved?

As early as 1828, festival-goers started complaining about the rainy weather in October, typical of Bavaria. They advocated for a shift to a period with more pleasant conditions. However, their requests were resisted by the Munich city’s officials. They were hesitant to disrupt the established harvest season by moving the festival dates.

By the 1890s, the concerned authorities listened to the public's concerns and occasionally adjusted the dates. However, the official switch of Oktoberfest dates from October to late September started in 1905. While the festival now ends on the first Sunday of October in most years, the September kick-off has become the norm.

Beyond Date: Oktoberfest Changes Since its Inception

Oktoberfest's evolution goes beyond just the date change. The event has undergone various notable changes, including:

Duration of Oktoberfest

The original Oktoberfest celebrations were continued for 5 days. Today, the event has expanded from 16 to 18 days of celebration, depending on the day of the week it begins. The extended time frame allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in beer, food, and overflowing cultural immersion while wearing traditional Oktoberfest costumes, including traditional Lederhosen men and Authentic dirndl. The warmer and longer days of September provide more time for the locals and foreigners to enjoy the festivities at the beer festival.

Activities at the Beer Festival

Originally held as a wedding celebration, the event featured horse races, agriculture exhibitions, and similar festivities. Over time, Oktoberfest has evolved into the world’s largest beer festival, with an annual beer consumption of around 6.5 million Liters. The focus has shifted to the large and small beer tents boasting massive structures. These tents can accommodate thousands of people while offering a range of festive and fun activities. 

Oktoberfest Size 

Compared to its origin, Oktoberfest has become a global phenomenon, attracting around 5 million to 7 million visitors annually. This massive number of tourists highlights the festival’s immense popularity not only in Germany but around the globe. Both locals and international visitors come to Munich to experience the unique blend of Bavarian culture, lively entertainment, and iconic beers. 

Pre-Oktoberfest Season 

Although Oktoberfest officially starts in September, the preparations start in August. Breweries across Germany begin gearing up for the season. This pre-festival period is marked by the packaging and release of Oktoberfestbiers, the specially brewed lagers synonymous with the celebration. The breweries understand the international appeal of Oktoberfest and are just trying to help people get into the festive spirit. 


FAQs

What is the season for Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest begins in the middle of September when summers are transitioning to autumn. The temperature ranges between 15-20 °C, and the days are generally long and warm.

Why is it called Oktoberfest when not in October?

Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration in October, but the days were shorter and cooler, so the festival was shifted to September. The beer festival begins on the first Saturday after the 15th of September and ends on the first Sunday of October. 

Why is Oktoberfest not in October?

The weather conditions in Germany are not favorable for the festival to be held entirely in October. The days are cooler and shorter, so the 16-day festival is not entirely in October.

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