Oktoberfest - a closeup view from far away

Where does the wild wild Wiesn-madness stem from? A true inside view of the Oktoberfest

The attempt to explain the Oktoberfest in mere words is equally vain as the search for a translation of “Gemütlichkeit”. Why is there no single term, which exactly outlines the unique combination of comfortable coziness and socially open minds across cultures and age groups? What does a thick leather short feel like after 5 Liters of Bavarian Beer and 12 hours in a beer tent with tropical temperatures? All this cannot be describedin words but must be lived, felt and experienced. So why write about the indescribable, why waste ink and paper, time and brain? To tease and tempt to wake desire and thirst, certainly not to create demand, which exceeds supply of space and beer by light years anyhow.

This truly traditional Bavarian event, happening each year according to its name in late September follows strict rules. As little as the Bavarians feel German as Deutsch do they act, when it comes to organizing a beer fiesta, which has been drawing millions of visitors from all over the galaxy for two centuries now. As stated, the last two weeks of September and the first weekend of October set the timeframe. Between 16 and 18 days, depending on the weekday the third of October – German unity day – hits, a prolonged half a month of happiness and busy beerdrinking. Is this it? By far not, the ingredients to this incredible bestseller to the eternal creator of “Gemütlichkeit” are by far more sophisticated, elaborate and well adapted than this. Bavarian food, the traditional Hendl, a chicken roasted on a revolving metal rod and spiced by little more than salt nourishes the visitor and prepares his stomach for hours of continuous inundation with liquid gold – the world famous Bavarian beer. 6 Million Liters, so the content of 6 Million Masskrüge (the wonderful and elegant 1 Liter glasses) are being poured into roughly the same amount of visitors. Poured? No rather enjoyed gracefully and with consideration so as to cool the bodies, heat the temper and grease the voice. Traditional Bavarian Blasmusik (brass band music) blends into new Oktoberfest classics such as Y.M.C.A. , Sweet Home Alabama and New York – New York. Stir into this cacophony some Austrian classics like Fürstenfeld (a tiny town in Austria, often confused with a village in the outskirts of Munich in which people are famous for poor driving skills) and add the ever returning “Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” (Prosit = latin for cheers) and here we have the acoustic setup.

Tents, the traditional description of the temporary houses that are constructed each year on the Theresienwiese hold 6 000 to 10 000 frantic fans of exactly this blend, of oxen eaters and dancers, singers, swingers and strippers. Whoever has experienced our Australian and New Zealander friends inside the traditional Hofbräuzelt truly sees, how close to Nirvana, the state of eternal happiness these globetrotters must feel right there year after year.

Considering the diverse blend of nations and universal consumption of malt and wheat, the only ingredients beyond the necessary water, that make up our lovely beer, the Oktoberfest is an extremely peaceful event, the opposite of a football stadium. Yet, looking at colorful Bavarian outfits and singing choirs one might be reminded of a sports festival. In terms of sweat, exhaustion and stamina the Wiesn – as the true Munichers call it – is a true Marathon, far beyond average sports. One could describe it as the Bavarian triathlon of eating, drinking and singing. The mood, the climate, the vibes as well as the beer perfumed air engulf everyone, invite each and everyone to be a part of the Bavarian family at Oktoberfest.

If after these lively lines and wordy wisdom you still cannot quite feel it, just come over. Book early, fly in, bring friends and make friends. The next Oktoberfest is just a few months away… Prost!