Germans are notoriously precise with their speech… after all, this is the language that gave us words like Schwangerschaftverhütungsmittel (Pregnancy Preventing Remedy) and and Dudelsack (A bag that makes a doodleing sound aka. Bagpipes)… so it’s incredibly confusing to so many people OUTSIDE Germany that Oktoberfest does not start in October. So, when is Oktoberfest in Munich? In September.
And it starts with the tapping of a keg and a mighty O’Zapft Is!
When is Oktoberfest in Munich?
In 2019 Oktoberfest in Munich begins on September 20 at noon. The festival will end this year on October 6.
It turns out, dating Oktoberfest is a bit like putting a date on Easter… it slides with the Sundays. The official rule is that Oktoberfest begins on a Saturday in September (more on why in a minute), runs at least 16 days, and ends on the first Sunday of October OR October 3rd (German Unity Day), whichever comes first.
And just so you can put it in your calendar…
2020 Oktoberfest runs Sept 19 to Oct 4
2021 Oktoberfest runs Sept 18 to Oct 3
So, why is it called Oktoberfest when it happens primarily in September??
Oktoberfest started out as a wedding party. (Who here watches those wedding shows on the cable channels? You think those girls who spend $40,000 for glitter on the tablecloths are a big deal? Think about it… this wedding party has gone on for over 200 YEARS!) You see, on October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig I (not the Neuschwanstein King) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. All the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities on the fields in front of the city gates, which were renamed the Theresienwiese to honor the bride. Everyone had SO MUCH FUN that they decided to do it again in 1811. And again the next year….
After a while though, people started thinking that October in Germany is just a little bit cold for an outdoor party. And, instead of cancelling, they just shifted it back to September, and carried on.
For more about the history of Oktoberfest, click here–> What is the Oktoberfest in Munich
Opening Ceremonies of Oktoberfest in Munich
At 10:45 on the Opening day of Oktoberfest, a Grand Parade sets off from the Herzog-Spital-Straße (in front of the Schottenhammel Restaurant), led by the Münchner Kindl (Munich child). It’s made up of 6 Horse drawn wagons from the 6 Official Breweries, 14 carriages that hold the “Landlords” of the Bier Tents, landlords and officials from smaller tents, and then come the Bands and Tracht groups.
Inside the grounds, The Schottenhamel Tent hosts the Opening Ceremony. (What makes Schottenhamel so special? Hans Schattenhofer was the first Bier Tent Landlord to register officially with the parade…)
The current mayor of Munich, pounds a tap into the first Keg… then declares O’Zapft Is! (The Keg is tapped).
And Oktoberfest is officially underway…..
Munich Oktoberfest Tours and Tickets
Want to avoid the fuss of getting into a tent yourself? Let one of these Tour Companies work it out for you.
Guided Oktoberfest Tour and Evening at the Hofbräu Tent Including Beer and Oktoberfest Museum Tour
All Inclusive Oktoberfest Tour and Table Reservation at a Major Tent
An Evening at Oktoberfest at the Hofbrau Tent Including Dinner and a Historical Walking Tour