The tradition of Oktoberfest began on October 12, 1810 in Munich, Germany, when Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, who was later crowned King Ludwig I, wanted his people to share in the celebration of his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.
Ludwig organized a horse race and invited all the people of Munich. The royal party drew about 40,000 guests.
Although the horse race was eventually abandoned, many characteristics of the early Oktoberfest celebrations have been retained, if not expanded upon. Munich’s annual celebration is still held on the original site, dubbed Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”), in front of the city gates.
The modern celebration in Munich has replaced the small tents with giant brewery sponsored beer halls that can hold up to 5,000 people a piece. The party has also grown in length, to become a 16-day extravaganza ending the first Sunday in October.
The festival opens with a grand parade of the Oktoberfest “landlords” and breweries, and features traditional dancers and costumed performers, the Riflemen’s Procession, music… and, most definetely, beer.
Since 2005, Mifflinburg celebrates its own German heritage with its annual German Oktoberfest.