What began in 1810 as a regional celebration of the marriage of Prince Ludwig has evolved into one of the largest festivals in the world. Hungry, thirsty hordes of merrymakers descend upon Munich, Bavaria's capital. Tents capable of seating 100,000 people offer beer from six local breweries--carried by more than 1,600 strong-armed waitresses--and serve southern German specialties.
If you can't make it to Munich this year, cook up a celebration of your own.
Bake your own dark pumpernickel or sour rye.
Wild Game & Acquired Tastes
For the authentic southern German experience.
Oktoberfest calls for beer brewed specifically for the occasion: malty, strong lagers. Munich breweries include Paulaner, Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräuhaus, Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu and the venerable Augustiner Bräu, which has been brewing beer since at least 1328 AD. If you can't find the real Bavarian imports, many American craft breweries make special Oktoberfest beers. You can also serve Sekt--sparkling white wine--and Radler, lager mixed with sparkling lemonade. Finish your night with a round of Schnapps.
A German proverb states, "More drown in the cup than in the sea." (Im Becher ertrinken mehr als im Meer.) Munich provides medical tents to treat the bierleichen--beer corpses: those who overindulge. In order to weather the full two weeks of Oktoberfest, use care while carousing.