One of the most famous gems of German culture known worldwide is the Oktoberfest, a 16-day festival celebrating beer annually in Munich, Bavaria. The name suggests that it takes place in October, although nowadays, this is only partly true. It begins in September, having been brought forward to benefit from better weather conditions. This year will see the 180th festival will start on the 21st of September. More than 6 million people from around the world typically attend Oktoberfest, which, as a celebration of beer, is also the world’s largest Volksfest, or people’s fair. It takes place in an area called Theresienwiese (the field or meadow of Therese), so called because it is where citizens of the city were invited to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in October 1810. An annual tradition was born, and the fields in which it takes place and the local name for the festival have since been abbreviated to die Wiesn.
The Oktoberfest has become an essential part of local culture and has been copied in several places around the globe, including London, Canberra, Argentina and Palestine. Many cities where these festivals take place have large communities of German descent, so if you can attend one, you will doubtless get the chance to practise some of the language skills acquired in your private German lessons. Using what you’ve learned in an informal setting such as this is great fun. It can help you expand your vocabulary, provided you engage in conversation with people before they become Bierleichen, the word for those who over-indulge, which means “beer corpse”.