We all know that Oktoberfest started as a German tradition, and we all know it is a festival celebrating German traditions but there are so many facts about this wonderful festival that are not commonly known. For example, did you know that Oktoberfest started 204 years ago to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen? It wasn’t always just a beer festival, even though it is seen as that today. Nashville Oktoberfest looks to honor many of the classic traditions the original festival celebrates with our own twist to celebrate our Historic Germantown.

The largest Oktoberfest celebration happens right in the heart of Bavaria in Munich. Even though the festival is called Oktoberfest, it actually begins in late September. The original celebration ran one week during October, but it later was changed to start in September because the warmer weather is more appealing to visitors. The length of the celebrations has extended from just one week to over two weeks.

Interestingly enough, the locals don’t call it Oktoberfest, they call it “Wiesn”. The name comes from the land in which it takes place. The festival in Munich essentially is broken into two parts. The “Oide Wiesn” celebrates more of the traditionally celebrated festivities like music, dancing, and the costumes. The other parts of the festival are more focused on the beer and partying aspects. On the first day of the festival, no one drinks until the mayor says so. The festival only starts after the official gun salute and the mayor of Munich announcing, “It’s tapped”, then they offer the first mug to the Minister-President of Bavaria. Only then can everyone start getting their drink on. At the Nashville Oktoberfest, we have a very similar ceremony where the owner of the festival sings the National Anthem, makes a brief speech for the festival, and the first keg is tapped with our ceremonial mallet. After said ceremony, the festivities run throughout the weekend.

Some characteristics that our Oktoberfest and the one in Munich have in common even surprised us. Both celebrations are kid-friendly, hosting plenty of activities such as rides, bounce houses, and the annual parades. You would think that with it being primarily a beer festival that it wouldn’t be a place to bring the entire family, yet, on the contrary, kids can have as much fun as the adults. Food is also never in short supply at either Oktoberfest. Food trucks and vendors can be found throughout the festival selling local affairs and traditional German meals.

Oktoberfest has been around for over two centuries in Munich, and we hope to eventually reach that number here in Nashville. Munich has had plenty of time to grow their celebration and as the years go on, we hope to see the same growth for our celebration here in Nashville.