The event now known as Oktoberfest traces its origin to 1810 when newlyweds Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen hosted a party to celebrate their marriage. The royal couple invited the entire city of Munich to join them in a field outside the city walls. The party was so popular with the city that the future king and queen decided to recreate it every year on what has become known as Theresienwiese, or Therese’s Field.
The 16-day-long Oktoberfest has become the world’s largest folk festival attracting more than 6-7 million people each year. This well-known celebration has inspired similar festivals around the world, including the recently established fair in Frankenmuth, Michigan, the only festival outside Bavaria officially sanctioned by the German Parliament. If you cannot make it to Bavaria, consider these other long-running, highly regarded Oktoberfest celebrations around the world.
- The twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario host the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside Germany. Because of the large number of German immigrants who migrated to the city over the years, Kitchener was originally named Berlin until it was changed in 1916. This heritage festival attracts over 700,000 revelers.
- Coming in second place, Blumenau, Brazil hosts a traditional German beer festival each year in October honoring the city’s German heritage. Established in 1850 as a farming community by German immigrants, the city has become known as Brazil’s “Little Germany.” Attracting more than half a million visitors annually, the festival has been celebrated in Blumenau since 1984.
- Cincinnati, Ohio is the setting for the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the United States. Known as Oktoberfest ZinZinnati, the annual event has taken place since 1974. The festival attracts almost 500,000 people. In 1994, Oktoberfest ZinZinnati was the setting for the world’s largest chicken dance. More than 48,000 people, including the Prince of Bavaria, took part in the Guinness Book of World Records monitored event. Where do Cincinnati residents come from? It’s interesting to think about considering the size of this city’s celebration.
- The Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel hosts the longest running beer fest in Asia. The outdoor festival includes authentic German beer, food and music in a setting overlooking Victoria Harbor. Lasting over 20 days, the event attracts almost 100,000 visitors each year.
- Brisbane hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the Land Down Under. The celebration attracts almost 50,000 visitors each year. Started by two Australian-German families, the event is held over two weekends in October and features traditional German beer, wine, food and music. The beer is specially brewed for the festival using the same standards as those required for beer prepared for the Oktoberfest in Munich.
For the true Oktoberfest experience though there’s simply nowhere quite like Munich. Make sure to check out Oktoberfest deals to avail of some great offers for the festival.