While traveling to Germany to drink a whole lot of beer is appealing, so is saving your vacation days and celebrating from home. This year, learn how to host an Oktoberfest party right in your own backyard. Each year, Oktoberfest runs from late September to the first weekend in October. This year it falls on September 21 through October 6. But first, some background. I mean, why exactly does Oktoberfest start in September and why does it exist at all?
Oktoberfest began on October 12, 1810 in Munich as a celebration of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The outdoor festivities lasted six days that first year, but as it continued it was extended and eventually moved forward into September because of the warmer weather. Once beer was permitted on the fairgrounds in 1896 it took over, as beer tends to do, until it became the famous, gargantuan sixteen-day festival we know it to be today. Now read below to learn what you need to Oktoberfest it up in your own back yard!
Oktoberfest is of course all about beer, but not just any beer, Märzen aka Oktoberfestbier, hence the festival's name. Oktoberfestbier is brewed at breweries within the city limits of Munich. They're in fact the only ones allowed to participate in Oktoberfest proper. If you can't find the real thing at your local supermarket, look for beer labeled Oktoberfest-style beer. The most important thing is that the beer be served in a one-liter mug filled to the brim!
One of the first things you'll notice when looking at pictures of Oktoberfest are the iconic wooden picnic tables. If you already have a picnic table, you're in luck. If not, rent one long enough to fit all your friends for some communal beer guzzling!
The next thing you'll notice in Oktoberfest pics are the tents, aka pop-up beer gardens! Everything that happens during Oktoberfest, the drinking, the eating, the socializing, takes place in a tent. There are fourteen of them to choose from in Munich. While fourteen might be a stretch for your backyard, try renting one or two, place the picnic tables inside and voilà! You've got yourself a real-deal, not to mention rainproof, Oktoberfest.
Beer's classic counterpart is no doubt a pretzel. In Oktoberfest's case, it's a large pretzel with obatzda, a spiced cheese-butter spread, one of the festival's traditional snacks. Other customary delicacies that can easily be recreated in your own backyard are grilled fish on a stick (steckerlfisch), grilled chicken (hendl) and white sausage (weisswurst).
When a friend went to Oktoberfest a few years ago, she brought me back a huge gingerbread heart as a souvenir. It was so cute that I never ate it. I soon learned that gingerbread hearts, traditionally decorated with affectionate messages, are ubiquitous at Oktoberfest. They come in small and large sizes and are strung with ribbon for easy wearing or hanging!
Who needs to get on a plane when you can have Oktoberfest in your very own backyard? Jubel! (cheers! in German)
Dana Holmes is a lifestyle, gift and etiquette expert who acts as Editor in Chief of Gifts.com and the Gift Rap Blog. She has been working in trend forecasting and gift recommendations for the past decade. Dana loves making occasions special with her unique gift ideas, tips and touches. She has been interviewed by the New York Times, Associated Press, Fox & Friends, TODAY in NY and many more.