Germany is justifiably famous for its great beer and wine festivals, which start in late summer or early fall and focus on regional wines, beers, and culinary specialties. The most famous is the Munich Oktoberfest, the world’s oldest and largest beer festival , which celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2010. Festival dates this year are September 18 to October 4.
The Munich Oktoberfest turns the city into party central. Dozens of huge tents serve food, beer and entertainment to thousands of people each night, and a sprawling midway lures visitors to Ferris wheels and other rides. Each of Bavaria’s beer breweries has its own tent and serves only its own beer, and of the beer tents serve tons of wurst, roast pig and chicken nightly, and every tent features an oompah band.
Every few minutes, the band plays a rendition of the “Prosit” drinking song, and everybody stops chatting or eating or drinking to stand up and sing while waving their beer mugs in unison. It’s tough to resist.
I’ll admit — I’ve been there, and I’ve done that. And, I never ceased to be amazed at the strength of the waiters and waitresses who thread their way through the crowds while juggling up to eight one-liter mugs without spilling a drop. You’ll have the most fun if you pick one tent and stay there for the evening, rather than tent-hopping.