The History of the Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest 1964, Foto: Rudi Dix/Stadtarchiv München/RD2542N29
Foto: Rudi Dix/Stadtarchiv München/RD2542N29

Crown Prince Ludwig (who later became King Ludwig I), married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12th October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates, to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields was then named Theresienwiese ("Theresa's fields"), in honor of the Crown Princess. The locals sometimes call it the "Wies'n".

Horse races in the presence of the Royal Family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

The Oktoberfest continues in 1811

In 1811, an added feature to the horse racing was the first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse races, which were the oldest and - at one time - the most popular event of the festival are no longer held today. But the Agricultural Show is still held every three years during the Oktoberfest on the southern part of the festival grounds.

In the first few years, there weren't much fun or amusement options. Until 1818, when the first carousel and two swings were set up. Visitors were able to quench their thirst at small beer stands which grew rapidly in number. In 1896, the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls, which enterprising landlords set up with the backing of breweries.

The rest of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair. The range of carousels and fun rides started increasing rapidly in the 1870s - as the fairground trade continued to grow and develop in Germany.

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