Following my recipe post on Nussecken I can’t let October be too far gone without writing about my experience at this year’s Munich Oktoberfest, Germany’s legendary folk festival.
The Munich Oktoberfest celebrates all things Bavarian. Far more than just beer tents and food, the festival is also well-known for its traditional Bavarian music and dancing. What’s lesser known is that Oktoberfest actually starts in September. The festival runs for 18 days, commencing in the third week of September. This year’s Munich Oktoberfest was visited by 6.2 million people with an estimated beer consumption of 7.5 million litres!
Over 200 years ago Munich Oktoberfest began as a wedding celebration with many days of drinking, feasting and horse races. So popular has Munich’s Oktoberfest become – and such a money maker – that it’s now a global phenomenon with many cities around the world replicating it. Brazil hosts the world’s second largest Oktoberfest and other countries that celebrate Oktoberfest include Australia, China, Japan, Hong Kong, the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture and an exciting time to be in Munich, the capital city of Bavaria in Germany’s south east. People come from far and wide, many dressing up in traditional Bavarian clothing – dirndls for the women (dresses with a full skirt and tight bodice) and lederhosen for the men (leather shorts and braces). In case you forget to bring your dirndls and lederhosen the shops are full of them at this time of year – although be prepared to part with a few hundred euros upward for something authentic.
My Munich Oktoberfest experience on a perfectly sunny afternoon included a relaxed lunch in the Olde Wiesn (the vintage Oktoberfest area of the festival). Traditional food choices included roast pork with potato dumplings and sausages with bacon and apple sauerkraut. I settled on a half roast chicken on the spit accompanied by salad with pretzel pieces. It was a hearty, delicious meal and certainly met my Oktoberfest expectation!
At my cousin’s recommendation I tentatively enjoyed my first weissbier. Popular in the south of Germany ‘weissbier’ literally translates as ‘white beer’. It’s a lightly hopped wheat beer and is much lighter than many typical dark German ales. The Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier was refreshing and delicious with a slight fruitiness.
Other traditional Bavarian fare on offer included Steckerlfisch, charcoal grilled fish on a stick, marinated in herbs, oil and garlic.
The sound of oompah bands led us into yet another beer tent in the Olde Weisn where we were mesmerised by the beauty of traditional Bavarian dancing.
Vintage amusement rides and a hair-raising experience inside the breathtaking Motodrom added to the excitement of the afternoon. The daredevil Motodrom riders on vintage motorbikes thrilled us with their skill and spectacular stunts riding around a vertical tub.
I had a terrific afternoon at my first Oktoberfest and, from what I was told, the evenings really take off with even bigger crowds and more entertainment. With family in Munich I’m sure it won’t be my last visit so perhaps I will time my next trip with Oktoberfest … A delicious afternoon tea at Munich’s elegant Dallmayr Cafe with a pot of Earl Grey tea and a mini orange gugelhupf cake (similar to a bundt cake) while resting the feet rounded off a perfect afternoon!
When: 2018 dates are Saturday 22nd September – Sunday 7th October