From the brass taps of the Hofbräuhaus pour liquid gold. Doing the rounds for over 400 years, it’s a royal formula of wheat sensation that one saved Munich from Swedish annihilation [courtesy of a 600,000 barrel pay-off]. Waving the flag for a larger life, the Hofbräuhaus assembles the largest tent at the annual Munich Oktoberfest – the largest Volksfestival on the planet. That’s if you didn’t think the 1-litre steins were big enough.
In a flurry of fire-coloured leaf fall, dirndl bloused waitresses parade amongst revellers with brews and bratwursts in hand. As a matter of fact, it is possibly every German stereotype you ever imagined – dressed in lederhosen.
Nonetheless, Oktoberfest has a history that seeps into the cultural landscape, for it is Bavaria. Only Bayern Munich packs an equal punch with export potential.
The Munich festivities have taken place since 1810, when Munich’s folk were invited to party with the newlyweds King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Everyone enjoyed it so much, that the beers haven’t stopped flowing since. Alongside the lights of the fairground, traditional halls fill with Alpine singsong, wooden kegs, and hop decoration. The 15-inch pretzels aren’t easily forgotten, either. Hence you’ll leave with a gingerbread heart of affection.
Although Munich saw a decrease in visitors this year, Oktoberfest is now a global phenomenon. Thus October heralds the calling of “O’zapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”) in dozens of world cities. That’s if you’re not Glaswegian, unfortunately, as organisers were refused a licence. Expect refunds there.
Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Canada
Old habits die hard in the city once known as ‘Berlin’. Now, 4,000 miles from its original namesake, Kitchener brings out the barrels to host the biggest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany. Prime Minister Justin Thrudeau recently smashed the keg on opening day – albeit without lederhosen. It’s nine days of maypole dancing, frankfurters, keg-rolling races and a ‘Roctoberfest’ concert. This wouldn’t be North America if it wasn’t for the rotund moustachioed ‘Onkel Hans’ and stout wife ‘Tante Frieda’. Clearly, the annual beer fest brings out the Bavarian in a population of German descent. Friendliness – ‘Gemütlichkeit’ – is a motto spread by all.
Canberra Oktoberfest, Australia
Canberra is a capital built with the help of German brews and handy-work. Australia’s biggest Bavarian bash takes place at Exhibition Park, thanks to the local German Club, founded by migrant workers in the 1950s. Now, city dwellers mark the start of summer with schnitzel sessions and beer on tap. The 300% rent increase for the festival site is only another reason to make the most of it. Crikey.
Qingado Beer Festival, China
Beer is business in Shandong Province. Where the old town looks like Frankfurt, and the pints taste like they’re from Munich, the colonial legacy parades. Inspired by China’s second biggest brewery (built by Germans in 1903), the annual beer festival sends this glistening port city into an Alpine spin. The state-run event boasts drinking competitions, mountains of food, and musical entertainment. For more excitement, hunt down the Becks imports and snap a photo with the “Little Beer elf” mascot. Other one-day Germans will struggle to get the sand out of their lederhosen on the beach.
Whilst every locale globalises Oktoberfest to their own preference, it remains a universal statement of good nature and festivity. Those cold nights and crisp leaves are a signal for one last outdoor hurrah – not that many need an excuse for washing down pretzels with a pint or two.