Oktoberfest is already over this year, but it’s still a good topic to blog about because someone at work was asking why it’s over since we’re still in the first half of October.
The timing of Oktoberfest is dependent upon the first Sunday in October: it always starts in mid-September, and ends 16 days later on that first Sunday. Hence, this year’s Oktoberfest started September 18th and ended October 3rd; next year, it will start September 17th and end October 2nd. As to why, this is from the official Oktoberfest site:
The first Oktoberfest was held in the year 1810 in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities began on October 12, 1810 and ended on October 17th with a horse race. In the following years, the celebrations were repeated and, later, the festival was prolonged and moved forward into September.
By moving the festivities up, it allowed for better weather conditions. Because the September nights were warmer, the visitors were able to enjoy the gardens outside the tents and the stroll over "die Wiesen" or the fields much longer without feeling chilly. Historically, the last Oktoberfest weekend was in October and this tradition continues into present times.
The king of all Oktoberfest celebrations is of course in Munich, where it originated; this year approximately 5.9 million people attended. And there’s plenty of others to be found outside of Munich, too:
- Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, in Oregon
- Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest in Ontario, Canada
- Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati in (you guessed it) Cincinnati
- And more to be found via a Google search for "Oktoberfest"
Not all Oktoberfest celebrations are confined to the traditional dates; the Kitchener-Waterloo festival is going on October 8th through 16th, and the Tulsa Oktoberfest is October 21st through 24th.
Oktoberfest beer, also called Märzen, was traditionally brewed in March (Märzen means "March") and then stored (lagered) in caves during the summer until it was ready for consumption for Oktoberfest. It’s a rich, malty, typically amber lager. It should be toasty but not sweet, and only moderately hoppy. The best example of this beer you can get, in my opinion, is Paulaner‘s Oktoberfest-Märzen.