Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

Traditional gun salutes by the Bavaria statue 2019

Off with a bang: a Bavarian custom at the Wiesn

04 Oct
Theresienwiese
According to this old tradition, the Oktoberfest starts and finishes with a loud gun salute. On the last day of the Wiesn, Munich lets the festival go out with a bang: in true Bavarian tradition, male and female shooters fire a gun salute from the foot of the Bavaria statue.

12 gun salutes get the beer flowing

At the very beginning of the Wiesn, there is also a small gun salute: 12 shots are fired next to the Bavaria statue when the mayor has tapped the first barrel and shouted “O’zapft is! To a peaceful Wiesn!.” These shots are the signal to the other tents that the Wiesn is officially open and beer may be served.

Annual Wiesn closing ceremony: lots of noise and smoke

Around 60 male and female shooters in traditional dress gather on the steps below the Bavaria statue at precisely 12 noon on the last Wiesn Sunday. Every shot not only makes a loud bang but also emits white smoke — that’s because rather than bullets, black powder is fired. The spectacle is musically accompanied by a brass band.

Bavarian gun salutes with a long history

Gun salutes have been traditionally performed in Bavaria since the late 15th century. The custom was used to honor high-status individuals and to celebrate births, birthdays and christenings. It was also used to scare away evil spirits, and in several regions, the gun salute was used to warn against impending danger as recently as the 20th century. The Oktoberfest has always been closely connected with the custom of gun salutes.