The Oktoberfest tradition started in 1811 following the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese, which took place in October 1810.
Anniversary celebrations have been held annually ever since, and thousands of beer lovers travel to Germany from around the world to participate in the now legendary event.
Millions of visitors, millions of litres of beer – Munich’s Oktoberfest in numbers:
– Visitors: Approximately 6 million people attend the beer festival on Munich’s “Wiesn” grounds, with the record reaching as many as 7.1 million people in 1985. Poor weather and the fear of terrorist attacks saw last year’s numbers drop to 5.6 million.
– Festival venue: The Wiesn site covers 34.5 hectares. On a busy day, up to 400,000 visitors crowd onto the premises.
– Economy: The visitors spend at least a billion euros (1.2 billion dollars) at the festival.
– Jobs: The Oktoberfest provides work for around 8,000 permanent employees and 5,000 freelancers.
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– Beer tents: The largest tent is the Hofbraeuzelt, which has almost 10,000 seats including the beer garden. Taking all the tents together, there are around 119,000 seats.
– Food and drink: In 2016, visitors consumed 6.6 million litres of beer in the traditional “Mass” tankards, washing down almost 367,000 grilled chickens, 116 oxen and 58 calves, along with 28 tonnes of roasted almonds in the process.
– Toilets: The Oktoberfest offers seating to 1,400 people, a kilometre of standing room and 41 toilets for the handicapped.
– Lost and found: At least 3,300 items were lost last year, including 760 identity documents, 810 items of clothing, 656 wallets and purses, 410 mobile phones, 220 keyrings, a blood pressure metre and two hearing aids.
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Jo-Ann Strauss, former Miss South Africa and the face of Lufthansa South Africa, shares some of the her most useful German phrases when travelling to Oktoberfest:
1. A greeting most certainly goes a long way; simply say “Guten Tag” that means “Good Day”. This will help you everywhere in Germany.
2. The most Bavarian greeting to use, since Oktoberfest is traditionally Bavarian, is “Gruess Gott”, which literally translates to “Greet God”.
3. Another typical Bavarian greeting is “Servus”. This will win you a smile from a young lady bringing you an ice-cold beer.
4. After a few beers, a useful question may be, “Where is the loo, please?” and in German you would say, “Wo finde ich die toilette?”
5. When asking, “Do you speak English?”, say “Sprechen sie Englisch?”
6. “Thank you” would be “Danke” – useful indeed!
7. And “please” in German is “bitte”.
8. For “you’re welcome”, say, “Bitte sehr”.
9. When you would like to say, “I don’t understand that”, you would say “Ich verstehe das nicht”.
10. Lastly, “Hilfe” meaning “Help” may be useful when one to many beers lands you in a predicament, however don’t be worried, as you won’t be the only needing assistance at Oktoberfest.