Oktoberfest History

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    Take a historical meander through Oktoberfest Munich’s boozy and not-so-boozy origins

    We know that you probably wouldn’t come to Stoke Travel for a history lesson, but you know what! You’re going to get one anyway, because we’ve been coming to Oktoberfest for long enough now to think that we know a thing or two about the festival. So pour yourself a litre of beer and sit tight, because this is a very Stoke Travel history of Oktoberfest. 

    Oktoberfest’s Origins

    1810: OKTOBERfest begins

    On the 12th of October 1819 was when it all began. The crown prince Ludwig married Princess Theresa. They got married at Oktoberfest, which once you’ve been there you’ll realise that it’s not a very royal thing to do. Imagine getting married surrounded by literally 1000s of strangers who have peed their pants. Well, fortunately for the royal couple there wouldn’t be an Oktoberfest like we know if for many years to come. At the end of the royal wedding, held on the Theresienwiese grounds where Oktoberfest continues to be held today, there was a horse race. 

    1811: Oktoberfest Traditions begin

    They held another horserace, and in doing so started the yearly tradition that led to Oktoberfest. This was also the year when an agricultural fair was added to the proceedings. Apparently it still happens every four years at the modern Oktoberfest, but we can guarantee you that either a) no Stoke Travel staff member or guest has ever seen it, or b) they’ve seen it, but were so sozzled that they couldn’t tell if they were still in a beerhall or not. 

    1813: Napoleon causes first Oktoberfest cancellation

    Napoleon picks a fight with Bavaria! Loses! But in the process causes Oktoberfest to be cancelled before it even really becomes Oktoberfest. He’s a real son of a gun, that Napoleon. 

    1816: Oktoberfest carnival rides begin

    They introduce carnival rides to the Oktoberfest. These days the rides are wild, full on amusement park quality rides (and they’re half price on a Tuesday). One can only imagine what the rides were like in 1816. 

    1818: Oktoberfest first introduces food and BEER!

    Food is introduced to Oktoberfest, hurray, and with it BEER is introduced as well, changing the Oktoberfest forever and 8,000,000% for the better. What were they doing before that? Were people attending weddings, horse races, carnivals and agricultural fairs SOBER? The mind boggles.

    1819: Oktoberfest moves to September

    The Munich council takes over Oktoberfest and moves it to September, for the warmer and longer days. They consider renaming it Septemberfest, but it just doesn’t stick.

    See our article on When the best time is to go to Oktoberfest to decide whether September or October are for you.

    1850: Oktoberfest’s famous statue is built

    The years between 1818 and 1850 are blurry, due to the aforementioned introduction of beer to the festivities. Nothing much really happened. But in 1850 they got their shit together and built the statue of Bavaria, which is still there today. Go and have a chat to her if you’re particularly hammered. 

    1854: Oktoberfest cancelled again for Cholera

    No Oktoberfest again, this time not because Napoleon is being a pest, but because of cholera epidemic, which is so much more pesty than having Napoleon and his midget army trying to conquer the city. 

    1866: Oktoberfest cancelled for war

    Oktoberfest cancelled again, this time due to the Austro-Prussian war. We don’t know much about this war, except that it involved Prussia, which is probably the best place name that doesn’t exist anymore. In this war the Bavarians, so Munich, were on the side of the Austrians. They lost. No Oktoberfest for you! 

    1870: Oktoberfest cancelled for another war

    Cancelled again, due to the Franco-Prussian war. Those bloody Prussians just couldn’t take it easy. You’ll be happy to know that this time around the Bavarians fought alongside the Prussians and they won, defeating Napoleon the Third. The Prussians, and so the Bavarians, were led by the amazingly named Otto Von Bismark. Following this victory Germany was unified into an empire. You little ripper!

    1873: Oktoberfest cancelled again for cholera!

    Cancelled again! If it’s not Napoleon it’s bloody cholera. This time it’s cholera. 

    1880: ELECTRICITY introduced to OKtoberfest

    Electricity is introduced, marking the first year where poorly prepared travellers roamed the beer halls looking for a power outlet. Also, ugly guys had a hard time picking up at night time after this year (they always had a hard time during the day).

    1881: Oktoberfest introduces bratwurst

    They introduce bratwurst for the first time. This is some shocking information, because we always just thought bratwurst existed forever and was eaten always in Germany. Well, since 1881 it was introduced to the Oktoberfest and joined pretzels and pork knuckles on the list of Oktoberfest food you have to eat

    1892: Glass introduced to Oktoberfest

    They start serving beer in glass. Immediately afterwards enthusiastic prost-ers begin smashing glasses with their good cheer. 

    1914-1918: oktoberfest cancelled for World War 1

    No Napoleon this time, not even any cholera, but Oktoberfest is cancelled due to World War 1. Nothing funny about that. 

    1919-1920: Oktoberfest changes name to Autumn Fest

    They get back into it, but call it Autumn Festival, which is probably more straightforward than calling it Oktoberfest, considering that it’s mostly in September. 

    1923-1924: Oktoberfest cancelled for Hyperinflation

    Cancelled again, this time for two years due to hyperinflation. These days most hyperinflation comes about in the Stoke staff’s faces after living the Oktoberfest beer and hearty food lifestyle for a month straight. 

    1933: Bavaria replaces flag

    The Bavarian flag is replaced with a new flag, a flag very popular amongst some Germans at the time, a red flag with a white circle and a little right-angles design in the middle of it. You know the flag, and for a while it flew over Oktoberfest until…

    1939-1945: Oktoberfest cancelled due to world war 2

    No Oktoberfest due to World War 2, during which the people who loved that flag the most are defeated and the blue and white Bavarian flag can fly once again. 

    1960: first recognition of official Oktoberfest outfits

    The last horse race, giving drunk gamblers more opportunity to spend their money on beers and delicious beer-accompanying foods. Also this is the first year that dirndls and lederhosen are recognised as the official costume of Oktoberfest, pleasing revellers due to everyone looking way hotter in them.

    1980: Bombing at Oktoberfest

    Just after 10pm on September 29 a bomb exploded at the entranceway, killing 13 people and injuring 200 more. The attack was attributed to a right-wing terrorist dickhead who died at the scene. There is now a memorial at the entry to the festival, and that’s all we’ll say about that. 

    2008: Stoke Travel arrives at oktoberfest

    Stoke Travel sets up its first ever Oktoberfest camp. We have about 13 guests and one of the staff members catches pneumonia and has to escape from hospital. You know what they say, from little things big things grow. 

    2009-2019: Stoke Travel grows at Oktoberfest

    We now have space for 8000 beer lovers, and are by far Munich’s biggest accommodation provider. We throw crazy parties with love music and DJs and go through about 30,000L of beer at our all-inclusive bar every year. We’re not as good at Oktoberfest, but we’re pretty close and definitely much crazier. Come and check us out sometime. 

    2020-2021: Oktoberfest cancelled for Covid

    The world is gripped by a global spicy cough pandemic and for a couple of years it makes no sense to jam millions of people into a small space breathing all over each other.

    2022-Present: bigger and better than ever

    Oktoberfest is back, so is Stoke Travel at Oktoberfest, and we’re bigger and better and badder and wiser and more stupid than ever. You just got to be there to see it.

     What more do you need to know? Let’s do this and make some history of our own. Book your Oktoberfest package now.


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