By Jordan Carmack

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 marked the opening day of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world, with some 6 million international visitors converging on the Theresienwiese, the same location where the first Oktoberfest was held 204 years ago. On the 12th of October 1810 Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the royal event. The fields have been named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's fields") in honor of the Crown Princess ever since.

I was one of the approximately 6 million people to attend this year’s festival. At 4:30am my parents, my fiancé, my grandparents, and I (we had three generations to celebrate the occasion!) woke up, got ourselves ready, and headed to the gates. For those of you who have not attended Oktoberfest before, be warned: the competition to get into the tents is intense! The first time we attended the festival in 2010 we had been part of a tour and were not forced to deal with getting a table reservation ourselves. 

This year, however, we decided to do it ourselves. I had put in a request for a table reservation in December 2013 to 4 of the 14 tents and only got accepted into one tent, the Hofbräu-Festzelt, on Monday for the 1st lunch seating. Opening day is another beast in itself. My goal for this year was to make it into the Schottenhamel tent, which is where the official opening of the ceremony begins. A parade goes through the streets of Munich and ends in the front of the Schottenhamel tent. At this time, typically around noon, the mayor of Munich taps the first keg at Oktoberfest shouting, “Ozapft is,” signaling the beginning of the festival. My family and I, alongside thousands of others, lined up outside the tent and waited for approximately 3 hours before the doors even opened!

Unfortunately we never made it into the tent itself but we were able to get a seat in the Schottehamel beer garden, where, unsurprisingly, the wait continued. No beer is served until the Mayor has ceremoniously tapped the first keg. We played yahtzee & cards while snacking on pretzels and sparkling water. Finally, at 12pm, the beer began flowing! The servers are impressive, often carrying as many as 10 of the 1-liter glasses called “masses” (German for measure). The beer served at Oktoberfest is sourced from six of Munich’s world-famous breweries: Spaten (which is served in the Schottehamel tent), Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu. Along with beer and pretzels, traditional Bavarian food is served including Bavarian duck, pork knuckle, wiener schnitzel, and the most tender grilled chicken I have ever tasted.

Once you have had your fill of beer and have shouted “Prost!” (cheers in German) to everyone around you, you are free to explore the carnival’s many rides, games, and attractions, including the countless beer gardens.

You will find that no matter where you come from or what language you speak; a good attitude and a hearty “PROST!” will quickly find you friends at one of the most spectacular festivals in the world!

Check out the cool time-lapse video from this year’s festival here

All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting www.charlescomm.com.