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Celebrating Oktoberfest No Matter Where You Are

While Oktoberfest originated in Munich in 1810, it has become a celebration of German-ness in other parts of Germany and around the world.

While Oktoberfest originated as a public celebration of the marriage of Bavaria’s Crown Prince and future king Ludwig Wittelsbach to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. Festivals in subsequent years were repeated and grew to include parades, horse races, promotions of Bavarian agriculture, and carnival rides. Since 1950, the festival has always been opened with the same traditional procedure: At noon, a 12-gun salute is followed by the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer by the Mayor of Munich. The Mayor then gives the first liter of beer to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria.

The traditional Bavarian game of strength will take place each day. Competitors hold a one-liter beer stein (also known as a Maßkrug or a Mass) out in front of their bodies with a straight arm, parallel to the ground. The person who can hold their stein the longest, with proper form, wins. The winners from each day’s competition will meet for the finals on the last day of the fest. In addition to the beer, multiple live music shows, both traditional and contemporary, will take place. The 188th Oktoberfest will be held at Munich's Theresienwiese from September 16 to October 3, 2023. Approximately six million attendees are expected to take part in the festivities.

While Bavarians are adamant that the only true Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, several other German cities have begun to hold their own Oktoberfest gatherings. Frankfurt am Main in Hessen held its first Octoberfest in 2007. It lasts a week longer than Munich’s celebration and has all the authentic aspects of the volkfest in Munich - traditional games, music, and beer. However, it is smaller and less overwhelming. This year, 60,000 attendees are expected to participate in the festivities at Deutsche Bank Park starting on September 6 and culminating on October 8.

Oktoberfest celebrations mixing German traditions, food, and beer with local culture have also popped up in many countries around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Philippines, Venezuela, and the United States. Wisconsin communities that showcase their German heritage by celebrating Oktoberfest include:

  • La Crosse (the longest running Oktoberfest in the Midwest and sister-city with Friedberg in Bavaria)

  • Cedarburg

  • Middleton

  • Beloit

  • Waukesha (sister-county with Landkreis Offenbach in Hessen)

  • Baraboo

  • Ellison Bay

  • Glendale

  • New Glarus

  • Elkhart Lake

  • Germantown

  • Prairie du Chien

  • Monroe

  • Brookfield (sister-city with Seligenstadt in Hessen)

  • Shawano

  • Fond du Lac

  • Waupaca

See more info on Wisconsin Oktoberfest celebrations at

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