Considering the large number of German immigrants who came to the United States, it’s no surprise that so many people have heard of Octoberfest. This festival is actually a fairly old celebration that is held annually even now in Germany. The main feature of all the festivities are tents serving an assortment of German beer, usually available in collector’s steins, for around $12 USD.
The celebration isn’t just about the beer, however. There is also plenty of traditional German food, rides, and music for about two weeks between September and October.
While most of us might want to experience an authentic Oktoberfest for ourselves, we probably won’t be getting to Germany any time soon. That doesn’t mean we can’t experience our own version right here at home with friends, families, and lots of fun.
But before we talk a little bit about how to plan such an event, let’s look at the history of the original.
The History of Oktoberfest in Germany
The festival, as I mentioned above, is older than you might think. The first such festival can be traced back to 1810. During October of that year, Prince Ludwig (who later became the country’s king) was married to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The grounds where much of the festival is held are, in fact, named for the princess who later became queen.
To celebrate their wedding, the pair held a huge horse race. Some people argue as to whether the date of the horse race or of the wedding counts as the date of the first festival. What is important is that the horse race continued to be a focal point of the celebration for many decades – it’s not anymore. Starting in around 1835, a parade was added to the celebration and now draws about 8,000 people yearly. That’s a small amount considering the average Oktoberfest includes more than 6 million attendees.
Celebrating Your Own Festival in October
Now that you know a little bit about the German Oktoberfest, you can start planning your own version. Remember to start by finding out the dates for the actual event. The dates vary slightly every year but you can find them for the current year online. In 2008, for example, the festival will last from September 20th to October 5th.
You don’t need to celebrate for the full two weeks, of course. Instead, pick a weekend that would be the most convenient for you and your guests. Consider renting a hotel suite or a hall for your celebration so you don’t have to worry about the clean-up afterward. Make sure to send out invitations early – probably the first week of September is a good time. If you want some appropriate invitations for the event, then consider these examples: October Fest, Oktoberfest, or October Toast.
Next, make sure to make arrangements for the refreshments. You should already know that one of the main ingredients in a successful Octoberfest celebration is beer so make sure you have plenty available. If your budget allows, purchase a wide variety of beers, including some of the ones served in Germany. You might also want to serve some traditional German foods, including sauerkraut, sausages, and similar items. Recipes are widely available on the Internet if you need them.