As we have established in our previous blogs, the festival of Oktoberfest has been around since the early 17th century to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese, but it has evolved tremendously since the early festivities. Traditional German polka music and dancing are some of the original traditions that have always stuck around, but others have come about as the festival continued through the decades. Let’s look at some of the traditions that make Oktoberfest the famous beer festival that it is today.

The Opening Ceremony

The celebration in Munich always starts at noon on a Saturday in the second half of September with the mayor of Munich tapping the first keg. No one raises their steins until this ceremony has been completed. Then and only then does the two-week party officially begin. This tradition began in 1950 and is still around today. At Nashville Oktoberfest, we like to begin our celebration in a similar manner with the owner singing the National Anthem and having the keg tapped with the ceremonial mallet.

Multiple Parades

Throughout the two-week celebration in Munich, multiple parades fill the streets of the festival grounds and throughout the city of Munich itself. Over 9,000 people participate in the parades with people dressed in costumes, horse carriages, and bands to fill the streets with traditional German music. The biggest parade is the highlight of the first Sunday during Oktoberfest where the route leads through all major parts of the city and halts to be greeted by the Prime Minister of Bavaria and the mayor of Munich. The festival started this parade in 1835 to honor the silver wedding anniversary of King Ludwig I and has been a part of the festival every year since 1950. Nashville Oktoberfest prides itself on hosting multiple parades throughout our celebration. Our festival has multiple sponsors and visitors in costumes parading through the festival grounds finishing up at 4th Street Stage. There is also the crowd favorite followed by the annual parade, The Pup Parade. We are happy to showcase all the pups that make Nashville Oktoberfest the family-friendly festival it is.

The Chicken Dance

This has been a popular tradition for Oktoberfests around the world. The Chicken Dance was composed in Switzerland in the 1950s and has become a staple during the celebrations. Everyone joins in and imitates the bird through bodily motion. It is a great interactive dance that everyone knows and loves. Our Annual Parade is followed up with a giant Chicken Dance performed by all the visitors of Oktoberfest. It makes for a special moment and a sight to see.

These are just a few of the special things that separate Oktoberfest from any other beer festival that occurs throughout the year. No matter where you might be attending an Oktoberfest celebration around the world, you are sure to see some of these great traditions displayed.