Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

Oktoberfest for backseat drivers

Some things that can only be found at Oktoberfest

The world’s largest folk festival often breaks records. Some are bizarre, others are rather funny, and the rest just make you want to shake your head. If you run out of things to talk about the next time you visit a beer tent, simply pull out a couple of the following record-breaking facts.

A diploma in alcohol consumption

Oktoberfest beer belongs to Oktoberfest. Period. While some visitors are satisfied with the strong, palatable taste of the beer, there have always been people who value quantity over quality. In 1901, the Hager brothers got actual written confirmation of their ability to hold their drink. At Lang beer stall, the two gentlemen consumed ten rounds of beer one after the other, and were awarded a diploma for their performance. The state in which the two men left the stall after their beer marathon is anyone’s guess, but nowadays their performance would probably result in being barred from the premises.

The longest period without Oktoberfest

Very bad things have to happen for Munich locals not to celebrate Oktoberfest — plague and war for instance. Oktoberfest had its longest break from 1939 to 1945 on account of World War II. During active hostilities, such a folk festival was unimaginable, but after the war ended things did not immediately revert back to normal in Oktoberfest season at Theresienwiese. When most of the damage had been remedied and the lives of Munich’s citizens began to resemble normality once again, Oktoberfest returned after it’s ten year hiatus.

Strike it lucky! Blow by blow and the good stuff will flow

Year after year the tapping of the first beer keg, signifying the event’s kick off, is eagerly awaited by everyone — particularly the city’s mayor. At the opening ceremony, all eyes are ultimately on the mayor to see how many times they need to hit the keg. This act can be traced back to former mayor Thomas Wimmer who first kicked off the event in 1950. He had to hit the keg 17 times before it finally surrendered its tasty liquid. It took former mayor Christian Ude seven blows at his premiere, much to the amusement of some of his colleagues at city hall. But over the course of the years, Ude perfected his technique so well that he even gained a new record: it only took him two strikes in his ‘best’ year. His successor Dieter Reiter only needed to deliver four blows during his debut. Not bad for a beginner. In the following years, it took him only two hits to tap the keg.

Facts, figures, and curious information around Oktoberfest

The anniversary year in 1985 saw the most visitors to the festival. In that year, 7.1 million guests paid a visit to Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, theft is a part of Oktoberfest, but in some cases at least, watchful police offers can swoop in on time. In 2011 for example, safety personnel found that an astonishing 226,000 tankards had been pilfered. Sometimes the items handed into and stored in Oktoberfest’s lost and found office can give you a laugh. Some of these include false teeth, a live leaf grasshopper in a box, wedding rings and a toilet brush. The most frequently lost items every year are clothing, purses and cellphones.