Destinations - A Traveler's Glimpse
Munich's Oktoberfest is a revel in beer, brats and bands
Oktoberfest, which traditionally starts the third week of September in Munich, Germany, is a giant, days-long party that celebrates not only with beer but also brats and dumplings, oompah bands and scary rides.
Party with millions
Munich's Oktoberfest runs this year from Sept. 18 (it traditionally opens the third weekend of September) until Oct. 4. See www.oktoberfest.de/en/
by Kristin R. Jackson
IN A RAUCOUS beer hall in Munich, with buxom waitresses in dirndls hauling mugs of beer, my strapping 18-year-old brother asked for milk.
The waitresses chortled and called to each other in disbelief. The merry beer-drinkers packed around us at long tables exploded in laughter.
My brother was an innocent abroad on a long-ago family trip, not yet weaned from his North American ways. He got his milk — in a liter-sized beer mug.
Just don't try ordering milk at Munich's annual Oktoberfest, the world's biggest beer festival that opens this weekend. More than a dozen giant tents, each holding thousands of merrymakers, sprawl across the festival grounds. Carnival rides — such as the "Top Spin" that turns riders upside down — parades and oompah marching bands keep festival-goers entertained when they're not drinking.
Oktoberfest began 200 years ago as a celebration for an 1810 Bavarian royal wedding. Over the centuries, wars and epidemics canceled the festival, making this year "just" the 177th Oktoberfest.
Eat, drink and be merry, tucking into sausage, venison, dumplings and Germany's immense varieties of beers. You won't drink alone: A staggering 6 million people now party at Oktoberfest each year.
Kristin R. Jackson is a Seattle Times travel editor and writer. Contact her at email@example.com.
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