A couple of hours after the bars close in Downtown Denver tonight, the REAL Octoberfest will open in Munich. And, run daily through October 3. This is actually the 177th Octoberfest, even though the annual tradition started exactly 200 years ago. They came up with a few interruptions and missed some years.
In fact, when it started it actually had nothing to do with beer. It was a horse race held to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Pricess Therese. That was October 12, 1810. They had such a good time, a tradition was established to hold a festival every year at the same spot, the meadow later named Theresienwiese, just one U-bahn stop from Munich’s main station. Now, but not at the time.
In 1881, they started selling beer and attendance went way up. Today, over 6 million people will visit the grounds, full of tents and attractions. The 14 beer tents themselves seat a total of about 94,000 people, many more than can stand on 2 blocks of Larimer.
When the horses first ran, Prince (later King) Ludwig could hardly have imagined this event spreading around the world. Some of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations are in Vietnam, Brazil, Hong Kong, Argentina, Ireland and Cincinnati.*
But, if you go to Munich this year (and it’s the best time of the year in one of the world’s most attractive and functional cities), plan to pay about 9.5 euros for a liter of Munich beer. That’s about $11 today, about the same as two draft pints in LoDo. Or, you can opt for the Groundhog with Accordian at the Oktoberfest Shop for just 19.9 euros!
In 2012, Munich’s Oktoberfest ends on my birthday. Now, there’s an idea. What do you think? You’re all invited!