Oktoberfest Events And Parades

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    Now while you’re coming for the Oktoberfest beer, the music, the revelry and the lifelong friendships forged in the beer halls (that you’ll immediately forget about), Oktoberfest is the world’s biggest folk festival and as such there are many traditions. From the Oktoberfest opening day parade and ceremony, and until Oktoberfest closes, you might inadvertently find yourself participating in one of the following Oktoberfest events. 

    Oktoberfest Opening Day Parade

    On the first Saturday of Oktoberfest we can find the Wiesn-Einzug der Festwirte und Brauereien, known to us out of towners as the Parade of the Landlords and Breweries, is the very first event of Oktoberfest. This is a huge procession featuring the breweries and landlords (duh) who make Oktoberfest happen. There are elaborately decorated, horse-drawn carts with wooden kegs (even though most kegs are metallic now and dropped off by trucks – they have to serve seven million litres of beer!), and the Oktoberfest beer tents’ landlords ride in elaborate carriages, along with representatives from the “big six” breweries that are within Munich’s city limits and brew the special Oktoberfestbier.

    Expect giant horses, elaborate floral decorated carriages, Bavarian music from marching bands,and everybody dressed in their finest Oktoberfest outfits – literally generations of lederhosen and dirndls. The procession winds through Munich and finishes at the Schottenhamel tent, where… 

    Munich’s Mayor Taps First Keg Of Oktoberfest

    Not a beer can be consumed until the mayor officially opens Oktoberfest. This takes place in the Schottenhamel tent, where the mayor will arrive with the parade and tap the first beer keg of the festival with a wooden mallet (legend has it the fewer strikes, the luckier the Oktoberfest). When the keg is tapped the mayor will proclaim “O’zapft is!” and all of the beer halls will be given the signal to start pouring beers. The crowd in the Schottenhamel tent, across all the beer tents, will go absolutely mad, and the beers will start pouring generously.  Stoke Travel generally waits for this to happen in the Hofbrauhaus, after arriving very early to get a table, and sitting pretty miserably for a few hours while we wait. But once that first beer hits your lips, then you better believe that it’s all worth it. 

    Costume and Riflemen’s Parade

    The biggest parade of the event is the Trachten- und Schützenzug which takes place on the first Sunday of the festival, with 1000s of folklorists parading through the city to the Theresienwiese fairgrounds (where they hold Oktoberfest). The parade is made up of horse-drawn carts (they love those here), traditional outfit societies where generations of finery will be on display, marksmanship and hunting clubs, and oompah bands, where you can see a lot of Oktoberfest history in one place. The parade starts near the Bavarian parliament and snakes for seven kilometres through the city. You will find participants from Bavaria, across Germany, and some from other alpine regions like Austria and Switzerland, with everyone relishing the opportunity to display their tradition and look damn fine while doing so. 

    Oktoberfest Church Service

    If you like to thank the lord for your delicious cold beers, there’s a ecumenical mass (means non-denominational – we didn’t know either) that takes place generally on the second Sunday of Oktoberfest in the smaller Hippodrom beer tent. If you want to get a blessing for your hangover, either in the moment or before it arrives, this is the place for you. 

    Gay Sunday at Oktoberfest

    While the whole of Oktoberfest is very LGTBQI+ friendly, the first Sunday of the event in the Bräusol beer tent is the unofficial Gay Sunday event. Here you’ll find many members of the LGBTQI+ community enjoying the extremely festive atmosphere. There are also many queer events throughout the Oktoberfest. 

    Family Day At Oktoberfest

    Even while Oktoberfest is generally family friendly, every Tuesday is family day at Oktoberfest until 6pm. All rides are discounted (up to half price!) which is fun for EVERYONE, and there’s generally a quieter atmosphere in certain tents and kids’ friendly menus. The best beer tents for kids are Augustiner-Festhalle, Schützenfestzelt, Käfer Wiesn-Schänke and Fischer-Vron.

    The Crossbow and Marksmanship Competitions

    If you can find the Armbrustschützenzelt beer tent you can find the crossbow competitions. These are serious competitions that take place every day. Also in the Schützen-Festzelt beer hall you’ll find marksman competitions, which are with air rifles. These competitions are as old as Oktoberfest and an important part of Bavarian culture and it’s long hunting tradition. 

    Oktoberfest Closing Ceremony

    Not much happens for the closing of Oktoberfest, probably due to everybody being tired/hungover. There is a gun salute at midday on the last day, and the bands begin to slow down the music and atmosphere dwindles away. This is important to the locals as they bid farewell to the craziness that is Oktoberfest. By midnight on the last Sunday after October 3rd (the last day of Oktoberfest every year) the last beers are done and it’s time to go home and wait until next year. 

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