Germany is the home to a lot of things – Heidi Klum, castles, Dave Beethoven, some questionable decisions amongst the leadership – but nothing German brings a smile to a bro’s face like Oktoberfest (which actually already began on September 20 and runs for 16 days). It is a time of celebration, of getting completely and utterly shithammered on the best beer and the finest meats while amply blessed blondes in barmaid costumes hover over everything and take care of you. In other words, it’s basically heaven.
But aside from the stereotypes, how much do you really know about Oktoberfest? Well, luckily for you, we’re here to help. After all, as a wise man once said, knowing is half the battle. The other half is usually stabbing someone in the guts with a bayonet, but hopefully that won’t be relevant here. I guess it depends on how much you drink.
It’s Over 200 Years Old
Oktoberfest actually dates back to October 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Theresa. Their wedding reception was apparently such a boss party that they just decided to do it every year, and since a good party should never end, it ended up stretching into a 16-day-long festival. In the years since, the dates have actually been fixed according to the calendar, sort of like Easter, only with more drinking, slightly fewer crucifixions, and more dudes in lederhosen rising from the dead three days later.
It’s Very Resilient
Obviously, Germany has seen some, uh, unfortunate days, but when the mess is cleaned up, Oktoberfest always bounces back bigger and better than ever. It’s not just war, though. The festival was shut down twice in the 19th century due to massive cholera outbreaks, which is some real Oregon Trail shit and even the biggest beer lovers weren’t about to risk it. Obviously, the festival was also halted during both World War I and World War II, but it also was knocked out by runaway inflation a couple of times in the 1920’s. In all, the festival has been canceled 24 times. But you can’t keep a good beer tent down for long, and since the end of World War II, Oktoberfest has just gotten bigger and bigger, without any cancellations, and nothing could probably shut it down these days. We’ve clearly gotten our priorities in order.
It’s Not Just Beer and Brats
Obviously, the food and drink are the real attractions, but Oktoberfest has all sorts of shit going on. Since the very early days of the festival, there’s been a big-ass parade, in which around 8,000 Bavarians march, and until 1960 there was even a horse race. There are carnival rides, games, music, and the whole thing is actually kicked off by the mayor, who personally taps the first keg at noon on the first day. Now that’s some hardcore shit. Our politicians just throw out pitches at baseball games. The Mayor of Munich taps a goddamn keg. Maybe a giant keg party is what we need to get this nation back on track. It’s just a thought. Call me, Obama. I have lots of cool ideas like that.
It’s a Virtual Society All Its Own
By the time Oktoberfest gets in full-swing, it’s pretty much a city all its own. Aside from the keg-tapping mayor setting the tone, there is a giant Red Cross facility with over 100 doctors and medical volunteers looking after the drunken citizens, and perhaps most hilariously of all, there is even a center that looks after lost children. Look, I have thrown and been to some wild parties, but I have never been to one where there is a makeshift shelter for beer orphans. That raises the question of who would even bring their kids to a festival where the aim is basically to get sloppy drunk, but good for Oktoberfest for looking out. They’ve got you covered even if you are an unfit parent.
The Beer Tents are Massive
There are actually 34 separate beer tents, all of varying size. And while I’m sure you think you know a good beer tent, I promise that you can’t even mentally wrap your mind around the size of some of these. The biggest tents hold somewhere around 10,000 people each. Now that’s a big-ass tent. All told, the tents hold a total of over 100,000 people at any one time, and that’s not even counting all the people hanging out at the carnival or waiting in line at the toilets or passed out in the medical tent or searching for their lost children. And all of these people are drunk as hell.
It Creates a Huge Mess
As you can imagine, that many people all going hard at once are going to leave an ungodly mess. Seriously, at peak party, Oktoberfest must smell like the devil’s outhouse. That’s because every year, around 1,000 tons of “rubbish,” which is a nice way of saying shit, piss and vomit, is produced. 1,000 tons! It’s so bad, that every morning of the festival, they have to haul it all away and then hose down all the walkways before the next group of partiers shows up to wreck the place all over again. The Oktoberfest cleanup crew probably all have PSTD like war vets. They’ve seen some literal shit, man.
The Total Amount of People Every Year is Staggering
In 2013, Oktoberfest attracted a total of 6.4 million people. That would be like if the entire populations of L.A. and Chicago COMBINED all decided to throw one big-ass party that lasted two weeks. The city of Munich’s normal population is about 1.3 million. That means that the city has to house and feed an extra 5 million people. Just think about how hard it is to get a hotel room for an out of town wedding. Now imagine trying to battle 5 million other people for a room. 5 million drunk people. If I lived in Munich, I’d be renting out everything from the spare bedroom to the crawlspace for insane prices, but I’m just helpful like that.
The Beer is Only the Very Best
I know this is what you’ve really been waiting for, and Oktoberfest doesn’t disappoint. Only beer brewed in Bavaria itself can be served at Oktoberfest. That means that you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in the Natty Light or Icehouse tents. Bavarian beer, of course, is world renowned, and the Oktoberfest beer in particular has to be especially good – and strong – to even get served. The beer has to be at least 13.5% Stammwürze, which is some weird German measurement that we won’t get into here. All you need to know is that this is basically the equivalent of at least 6% alcohol by volume. Minimum. This is some serious shit. You can’t just roll up like some beer dilettante and try to light beer your way through it all. No, you’ve got to come ready to drink like a goddamn champion, Bavarian style.
That Beer Isn’t Just For Show
In 2013, around 6.7 million liters of beer was served. That’s enough to fill approximately three Olympic size swimming pools. That’s 114,190 kegs of beer. Now that’s a keg party. I’m guessing that they don’t all have to huddle quietly in the basement when the cops roll by either. I’m just saying, pay attention to that new Bavarian frat on campus. Clearly, as Oktoberfest proves, those dudes know how to get shit done.
Oktoberfest girl image by Shutterstock