It’s astonishing just how popular sitting down for glass of beer with your mates has turned out to be, and not just in Germany
OK, so we’ve had one rather big event this summer, but now it’s time to think about another, and this one happens every year, not every four years, and yet it still manages to attract twice as many visitors as the Olympic Games. Yes, it’s time to bring out the Dirndls and the Lederhosen.
These days there are hundreds of Oktoberfests all around the world (see below), but there’s nothing quite like the real thing (22nd September to 7th October, in Munich). It’s massive. Huge, elaborately decorated marquee-hangars packed to the rafters with ravishingly pretty girls, extremely ugly guys, and everything in-between, surrounded by an enormous funfair.
The beers are mass-ive, too (aficionados will get the joke) and the noise level is such that it is impossible to talk, so you might as well sing. Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit, etc etc, although just Ein Prosit will do. It comes round often enough. If you tried to have a similar alcohol-fuelled event anywhere in the UK, it would end up as a riot, especially at turfing-out time (surprisingly early, at 10.30 onwards) but here it remains incredibly good-humoured. You start the evening thinking ‘what a strange thing is the human race’, and end it thinking ‘what a wonderful thing is the human race’. There’ll come a stage when a pair of pink bunny ears, preferably flashing, becomes essential. How you get home afterwards is a miracle.
Some essential information: Lufthansa operates to Munich from Heathrow, London City, Birmingham and Manchester, flights from £89 return. Reserving a seat in one of the tents may still be possible, and although reservation is free you will have to purchase vouchers for beers and food. You can get into the tents on the day, but you will probably have to queue. Beer costs around €9-9.50 for a Maß, and is at least 6 percent proof. You can, of course, drink wine, or soft drinks. For an account of the lighter side of the fest, see Barbara’s blog.
In Canada, there’s a particularly big one in Kitchener-Waterloo, and unsurprisingly there’s also one at America’s most Bavarian town, Leavenworth. But one of the most unusual must be the massive festival down in Blumenau, Brazil, where salsa and oompah come together in glorious harmony.