One of the most famous gems of German culture known worldwide is the Oktoberfest, a 16-day festival celebrating beer which takes place annually in Munich, Bavaria. The name suggests that it takes place in October, although nowadays this is only partly true. It now begins in September, having been brought forward in order to benefit from better weather conditions. This year will see the 180th festival begin on 21st September.More than 6 million people from around the world typically attend the Oktoberfest, which as well as being 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 the place 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 as well as the local name for the festivalhave since been abbreviated to die Weisn.
The Oktoberfest has become an important part of local culture and has been copied in several places around the globeincluding London, Canberra, Argentina and Palestine. Many of the cities in which these festivals take place have large communities of German descent, so if you have the opportunity to attend one of them, 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 and 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 literally means “beer corpse”.