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A Bit Of History Of Octoberfest website
Jean Maracchi

Why did the Oktoberfest  start?

Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12th October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields have been named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's fields") in honour of the Crown Princess ever since, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the "Wies'n".

Horse races in the presence of the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

Poor Therese must have had a time of it given that "Ludwig's rule was strongly affected by his enthusiasm for the arts and women and by his overreaching royal assertiveness."  Not to mention 9 pregnancies, but I diverge!!

In 1811 an added feature to the horse races was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest and - at one time - the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.

The emperor Napoleon rather rudely interrupted the celebration of the Oktoberfest which was cancelled in 1813, by trying to take over Europe, so the festivities were suspended until 1815.

In the first few decades the choice of amusements was sparse. The first carousel and two swings were set up in 1818. Visitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands which grew rapidly in number. In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries.

The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels etc. on offer was already increasing rapidly in the 1870s as the fairground trade continued to grow and develop in Germany.

Finally - The 184th Munich Oktoberfest runs from 16 September to 03 October 2017 and attracts visitors from all over the world. Now days similar events are held in many other countries but Germany will, and rightly so, always claim the original, the biggest and the best!