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A history lesson: Oktoberfest

At GBB we love a good old knees up with like-minded people. Where better to enjoy a ton of beers than with fellow beer lovers? Oktoberfest is the oldest and most famous beer festival in the world and is celebrated in nearly the whole of the western world. That time of year is coming round thick and fast and tickets for the UK events are quickly disappearing, so we thought we’d give you a bit of a history lesson, and have also done some digging to find the best places to celebrate Oktoberfest a little closer to home. Read on to find out more about the history of the celebrations and some of the cracking events being hosted around the country.

Dating back to October 12th, 1810, it was originally a horse race to celebrate the marriage between Crown Prince of Bavaria who later became King Louis I, to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. It has become a staple event in Germanys’ annual calendar ever since. Lasting for two weeks it attracts over 6 million people every year, running from September 17th through to October 3rd.

It hasn’t always been how we enjoy it today, in 1910, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Oktoberfest, 12,000 hectolitres of beer was poured at the Pschorr-Bräurols, a huge festival tent that could seat up to 12,000 people at each time! The event is declared open each year by the untapping of the first keg by the Mayor of Munich, this customary event first started in the 1950 festival and has been a mainstay and tradition ever since. The famous words ‘Ozapft is’ have gained cult status over time.

Oktoberfest has since become the world's largest folk festival and draws around 6 million visitors annually. Each year, a new record is broken whether that be the amount of beer consumed or the amount of chicken that is eaten. The ‘quiet Oktoberfest’ was introduced in 2005, starting an era of family friendly events, encouraging the next generation to carry on the festival for the years to come. Party music was banned until after the hours of 18:00 and only traditional Bavarian Brass Band music can be played beforehand.

Oktoberfest continues to evolve, and in 2010, on the 200th anniversary, in addition to the usual Oktoberfest, in the south part of Theresienwiess a historical festival began. It was to help remind festival goers of the historical traditions. This includes a wealth of cultural activities including horse racing, which is how the event started back in 1810.

As mentioned above, Oktoberfest is celebrated around the world. But if you aren’t lucky enough to be able to reach Munich, some of the best Oktoberfest events here in the UK are listed below, but we’d advise you book quickly, as tickets are running out fast.

The London Oktoberfest has been running since 2010 and is the biggest Oktoberfest event held in the UK, it regularly has over 50,000 attendees! There are 3 events in 2022, 20th-23rd October, 27th-30th October and 3rd-5th November. Tickets cost between £5 for general admission right the way up to £65 for a VIP package and £100 for a corporate ticket. It is held at different locations in Central London with 2022’s venue yet to be released.

If you want an all-out weekend experience with a bit of camping on the side then this is the perfect way to celebrate Oktoberfest in the UK. Running from 7th – 9th October, they have a special Volkswagen Oktoberfest event in the heart of Devon. Prices for pitches are from £21.50 and you must purchase adult and child tickets separately. Tickets are running out fast so if this sounds just right for you, be quick!

Where better to celebrate Europe’s biggest party than Manchester!? The Mancunians certainly know how to party so why not join them for this year’s Oktoberfest? This year, the event is being held between 13th and 16th October (venue still unannounced at time of writing). Tickets start at just £5 for a general admission on the Thursday working all the way up to £65 for either Saturday afternoon (11:00-17:30) or Saturday evening (17:30-23:30) VIP sessions. The latter gives you a seat in front of the band with table service, 1 glass of German sparkling wine, 2 Mass (1.5 pint) Bavarian FestBeer, 1 Underberg shot, welcome Bavarian snack plate, German veal schnitzel with Bavarian potato salad.

For the Scots (and everyone else who wants to enjoy Edinburgh in its own right) the celebrations are running from 6th – 10th October in West Princess Street Gardens (Red Square). The tent will have the capacity for 1,000 people, and being organised by the same company as the Manchester event, the tickets are the same prices and include the same great offerings. A German beer festival in the heart of the beautiful City of Edinburgh, surely this can’t be beaten?

Whichever event you and your fellow beer enthusiast friends decide to descend upon, this year's Oktoberfest celebrations are sure to be better than ever! Make sure you get them booked up with plenty of time so you don’t miss out.

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