Oktoberfest: It’s a festival of fun...
Bavarians can put on a real party
There’s probably a whole host of things that everybody has got on the list of things they’d love to do in life.
Some are just tucked away in the back of the mind while others are physically written down on the list.
Make Oktoberfest one of them.
It’s party time with a massive capital P.
Thousands of people having a fun time with oceans of beer, tons of sausages, loud music... but not an ounce of trouble.
And where might this fantastic event be taking place?
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Somewhere in Germany that’s for sure. The Bavarian capital of Munich.
The event, held bizarrely during the last two weeks of September, has been a feature on the German calendar for nearly 200 years, and attracts thousands of people from all round the globe.
It took place for the first time in 1810 on the occasion of the wedding of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghause and featured a horse race.
Today, record breaking consumption levels of beer are measured in millions of litres which come in huge mugs carried round by bar staff of both sexes ... often with six giant heavy glasses in both hands.
On some days it’s so crowded that the specially-erected tents have to be closed.
There are also over 200 attractions and sideshows include rides such as the stomach-churning Rocket (one to take on before lifting a glass) and the Schichtl Variety Show, a true Oktoberfest institution.
All the beers are brewed by Munich’s six major brewers and served in 14 tents with a total seating capacity of 100,000.
Up to 7,000 can be found in just one of the tents swinging and swaying as the delicious brews are consumed with astonishing regularity.
The draft beer is perfect with Bavarian treats such as radishes, Obatzda (specially garnished cream cheese), plump sausages and roast chicken or spicy fish grilled on a skewer.
The ox roasted on a spit is another speciality and all in all some 80 small and medium-sized caterers invite visitors to enjoy themselves and all running from 10am to 11.30pm.
Many last the pace and even come back for more ... while others make it just an evening to remember.
Traditionally, young people, especially from Down Under, like to meet in the Hofbrau tent for drinking contests, during which the occasional discarded bra has been know to fly through the air.
One of the other traditions is the colourful Costume and Riflemen’s Parade during the festival.
Bands from towns and villages around Munich flock to the city to take part in the event. The city’s underground network is inundated with families in their Bavarian dresses and lederhosen to take part in the parade which lasts for two hours and features drays pulling some of the beers on offer at Oktoberfest, an ice wagon, animals, marching bands and men carrying an array of spine-chilling weapons and armoury including axes, swords, crossbows and an assortment of firearms.
But Munich has so much more to offer all year round.
An evening in the Fountain Court listening to a classical concert in summer; an afternoon of rock at the Theatron in the Olympic Park; an early morning visit to the stallholders on the Viktualienmarkt; a trip to the gorgeous Nymphenbury Park with an expert biologist by your side; a wedding at the Theatinerkirche late on a Saturday - that’s Munich.
And then there’s the scores of museums and churches to wander round and of course a visit to the magnificent Allianz Arena, home to Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich.
Just 90 minutes to the south of the city are the picture-postcard twin towns of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located in breathtaking mountain scenery at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze (2,962 metres).
It’s a unique place and active holiday-makers make the most of the unique surroundings no matter which season: ski-ing or ice hockey in winter; canoeing, paragliding, mountain biking or hiking in summer.
A ride in the cable car up to the very tip of the Zugspitze is a must but not for the faint-hearted as it almost rises vertically close to the summit.
A stroll through streets like Fruhlingsstrasse, in Garmisch, or the historical Ludwigstrasse, in Partenkirchen, makes tradition come alive.
Then there is the Olympic Stadium and newly-created ski jumps. Made famous for the Winter games of 1936 and officially known as the IV Olympic Winter Games it is an atmospheric arena bought up to date with the ski jump slopes.