Oktoberfest turns 200! Celebrating drinking beer for 200 years...oh yeah!
From the BBC
It all started with a “yes”. On 12 October 1810 Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (the future King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen exchanged their marriage vows, thus kicking off a mega-bash that culminated five days later with a spirited horse race. The party was such a rip-roaring success that the Munich magistrate decided that it warranted an annual repeat performance.
Over time, many other traditions were added. Carnival booths appeared in 1816, the folk costume and riflemen's parade followed in 1835, while the brewers first paraded in 1887. And since 1950, the Oktoberfest has officially opened with the tapping of the first keg by the Munich mayor.
And so it will be again this year. At noon on 18 September 2010, Mayor Christian Ude will launch the world's biggest collective drink-up with the magic words: O'zapft ist! (It is tapped!). For the next 17 days, more than six million normally prim and sober citizens from every country in the world will descend upon the Theresienwiese festival grounds (Wiesn, for short) to guzzle towering mugs of beer and engage in good cheer and outright debauchery. This year is the 200th anniversary of the tankard-clinking marathon and the city of Munich has come up with some unique ways to mark the occasion.
For a primer on the Oktoberfest, report to the Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich City Museum; www.stadtmuseum-online.de), where a special exhibit tracks its evolution from Bavarian royal wedding gala to beery extravaganza. There are plenty of fun displays, like the oldest beer keg, an epic painting that graced the festival entrance on the 100th anniversary, and fancy dirndl (traditional women's dress) designs through the ages.