So we’re once again approaching the time for donning dirndl and heading out to Munich for the world’s most famous beer festival. Oktoberfest has a global reputation for being a uniquely boisterous and downright beautiful event, which sees tens of thousands of revellers descend on Bavaria for a stein or two of the action.
But what’s interesting however is that while most people think they know a thing or two about Oktoberfest, it’s what you perhaps don’t know that’s truly surprising. According to the experts behind octoberfest-dirndl-shop.co.uk, there’s so much more to this iconic autumn celebration than meets the eye and even some of the most apparently obvious facts about Oktoberfest are in fact pure myths.
Take a look at the following seven things you probably never knew about Oktoberfest:
1 – It Wasn’t Traditionally a Beer Festival
Yes, believe it or not the Oktoberfest we know and love today did not in fact start out as a beer festival at all. Instead, it was a party put on for Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and his wife, Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in 1810 where not even one sip of beer took place throughout the event. It was nine years later that beer first made an appearance at the party, which of course was a pretty fortuitous addition for those with a taste for the beer-centric theme of today’s Oktoberfest.
2 – You Shouldn’t Call it ‘Beer’
If you want to make a good impression on the locals and ideally stay on the positive side of purists, you might like to know that it’s not actually beer that’s served at Oktoberfest – it’s Oktoberfestbier. This specially-created brew is the work of six breweries in and around Munich, of which you’ll be expected to know their names and pronunciations in full in order to win over the locals.
3 – It’s Strong Stuff
Still on the subject of the beer, the special Oktoberfestbier brewed for the event is not only served in massive steins, but it’s considerably stronger than standard beer and lager. Coming in at around the 6% ABV, one of these large glass mugs can be a little like downing three cans of bottles of standard-strength beer in one go. As such, it’s hardly surprising that it tends to take a fair few revellers very much by surprise, who struggle to work out why they’re feeling a little on the wobbly side after just one or two steins of Oktoberfestbier. Still, this doesn’t prevent incredible amounts of the stuff being swilled down every year – in 2014 alone more than 6.4 million litres were sold during the event’s run.
4 – You’ll Need Permission
Much as it may all seem like a bit of a free-for-all, there are in fact some very important and very much abided-by rules when it comes to kicking off the action. In fact, no drinking at Oktoberfest is permitted until Munich’s mayor personally taps the first barrel and proclaims it open with a loud ‘O’ zapft is!’
5 – It Doesn’t Take place in October
Over the years, the actual dates during which Oktoberfest is held have been brought forward earlier and earlier – so much so that it now doesn’t start in October at all. Instead, it all kicks off in the latter half of September which tends to work in favour of those chasing the last of the summer sun. Of course, the event continues right through into the first days of October so technically the name still makes sense, albeit in a rather confusing manner for some.
6 – Paris Hilton is Banned for Life
Those 6% ABV beers never fail to lead some down a dark path and annual boot-outs and banning-orders are par for the course. However, perhaps the most famous of all faces to be told never to return to Oktoberfest is that of Paris Hilton. Having turned up in 2006 to do a little promotional work without permission from the event’s organisers, she was shown the door and told not to bother coming back…ever.
7 – Oktoberfest’s Lost Property Department is Epic
Last but not least, it would be impossible for an event like this to come and go without a fair few people losing a fair few possessions along the way. Crime rates at Oktoberfest are extremely low, but in terms of getting a little clumsy or forgetful, thousands end up leaving a little lighter. So it’s hardly surprising that the event’s lost property department works hard…and VERY hard at that. Last year for example, the lost-property lockup found itself swamped with over a thousand passports, more than 500 wallets, 300 mobile phones and hundreds of larger bags.