Oktoberfest in Munich – heavy horses, dirndls and barrels of beer
Oktoberfest, the Wiesn in Munich attracts countless visitors from all over the world every year with typical culinary delicacies such as pretzels and obazda, Steckerlfisch and of course, with products of local brewing art. The Oktoberfest offers people from Munich and the surrounding area a good two weeks of exuberant celebration of their traditions, wearing traditional costumes – dirndls and leather trousers.
The beer is delivered, at least symbolically, to the Wiesn – by brewery horses. Big strong heavy horses pull the carriages with the beer barrels. Numerous horses are in action in front of the brewery coaches when the Wiesenwirte move in with the beer.
These days a hustle and bustle with modern fairground rides, roller coasters and large beer tents, the Oktoberfest began in 1810 as a folk festival in honour of the royal marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I, with Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The huge five-day festivities in Munich’s city centre ended on 17 October with a horse race on a meadow outside Munich’s gates. At this place, Theresienwiese, named after the wife of King Ludwig, the Munich Oktoberfest takes place until today. It was decided to repeat the popular horse race the following year at the same time, thus creating the annual tradition of the Oktoberfest. The horse race was no longer held after 1938.
In the history of the Oktoberfest, the image, the spirit of the times and the demands of visitors and restaurateurs have changed. Small beer stalls became real beer castles. Around the turn of the century, the fairground bustle with bizarre events and more and more amusement rides was added. The first merry-go-round and the first swing could already be admired and tried out by the visitors in 1818. The basic structure of the Wiesn remained the same but the appearance of the rides and market stalls changed with the design trends of the decades and technical progress.
To celebrate the Oktoberfest anniversary in 2010, the so-called “Oide Wiesn – Old Wiesn” with its period rides and market stalls was reconstructed. The horse race was also held – but with heavy horses. In the anniversary year, Wiesn-visitors could learn about the history of the Oktoberfest in a museum. They had the chance to try out the old merry-go-rounds and curiosities. What has given everyone so much pleasure has been a fundamental part of the Oktoberfest ever since.
If you would not know that Lola Paltinger started with her label Lollipop & Alpenrock in 1999, you would think that she was inspired by the historical Oktoberfest for her dirndl creations with style elements of the 50s. The rides of the Oidn Wiesn inspire with their colourful joy and attention to detail. Lola Paltinger Dirndls delight the eye with fashionable colour combinations, details of precious lace, traditional costume materials and opulent, partly even hand-painted fabrics. After the dirndls from the Lollipop & Alpenrock line, the fashion designer delighted a clientele from local and international Oktoberfest visitors, some of whom came from Hollywood with new creations of Lola Paltinger Couture collections, finely embroidered leather trousers, traditional jackets and blouses, underwear and accessories.
The dirndls of fashion designer Lena Hoschek appear more traditional. The first-class traditional costume pieces of her collections have a formally surprisingly austere line. Born in Graz, she is known as a designer of unconventional, no trend following fashion with a swing of punk and rock’n’roll – offensive and feminine. Burlesque dancer Deeta von Teese dresses in Lena Hoschek’s designs.
The fact that Lena Hoschek in her line “Tradition” honestly and practically translates the meaning of the title is not surprising when you read the following on her website: “Together with her grandmother Aloisia, Lena Hoschek tailored her first dirndl at the age of 13 and developed her passion for traditional craftsmanship.” With the independent traditional costume label Lena Hoschek celebrates dirndl dresses as a precious cultural asset. Just like their fashion collections, which can be seen on the catwalks of Berlin Fashion Week, the traditional costume collections are worked with valuable fabrics in pure craftsmanship. Works of art from the most beautiful silk jacquards, the softest walk from South Tyrol, handmade frills and noble velvet ribbons. More muted colours in the dresses combined with ribbons and trimmings in bright colours, according to the season, give the traditional works elegance and an unmistakable flair.
Dirndl fashion is of course available in all price ranges and as cheap goods from the Far East. Most of the Lederhosen worn during the Oktoberfest currently come from China. However, those who attach great importance to the special detail and high quality in material and craftmanship are willing to invest more money for a special piece. Alternatively: DIY – Sew Dirndl yourself or click it at meindirndl.com.
Since the Wiesn 2013, traditional costume hats in all colours and with feather decoration are very popular. The Austrian hat maker Zapf has solid, chic hats or order a classic hat and decorate it with feather ornaments yourself. With the classic Frankonia the conservative potential visitor to the Wiesn will certainly find something in terms of traditional costume and tradition. And for those who once again can’t make it home: the a Schmankerlkorb for Bavaria expats could be right. A delicacy basket filled with white sausages, Bavarian beer and other typical foods.
And if the Wiesnwahnsinn in Munich should become too much, there is an escape. Relax with a nice piece of cake at the Ruffini in Nymphenburg. With luck, the last rays of the late summer sun warm you up on the roof terrace. A visit to the Viktualienmarkt is always worthwhile. Nowhere in Germany are more beautiful and lush markets than in Bavaria. The Viktualienmarkt in Munich’s city centre is their undisbuted king.
The photos used in this article were kindly provided by the companies Lena Hoschek, Lola Paltinger, of the Tourism Department of the City of Munich. Cover picture: (c) Thorsten Naeser