The original Oktoberfest, five fun-filled days of eating and drinking, celebrated the marriage between Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxon-Hildburghausen in 1810.  Today the annual festival, located in the original meadow just outside the center of Munich in Bavaria named the Theresienwiese after the bride, is held annually at the end of September and lasts 16 days.  The site is constructed specifically for the festival with electricity, running water, gas, plumbing, emergency, policy, fire and security. The six million visitors each year, 70% from Munich and 15% from other parts of Germany, drink seven million liters of beer and dine on grilled sausages, chicken, giant pretzels and, for the more adventurous, wild oxen.


The festival opens with a colorful parade of carriages, floats and people dressed in a variety of costumes.  Fourteen tents of various sizes are set up containing long wooden tables and benches, the largest of which holds 10,000 visitors, and outdoor tables in  biergärtens surround many of the tents.  Most tents provide local Bavarian music, and the Herzkasperl tent provides traditional Bavarian folk dance.  While not required, many people wear traditional costumes – lederhosen for men and dirndls (a dress with full skirt, apron and tight bodice) for women.


Beer is the star attraction, flowing from morning until 10 pm, after which the after parties begin.  The tents are allowed to sell only original Munich beer from six breweries, all founded between the 14thand 17thcenturies.  For those not inclined to drink beer and party, there are numerous fairground rides, shooting galleries, and candy floss stalls.


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