Fun Facts about Munich's Oktoberfest

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With the 181st Oktoberfest kicking off on 20th September, the first fun fact about this world-famous beer festival is that it doesn't take place in October. Here are some facts you may not have known about Oktoberfest:

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  • The midday opening ritual has been a mayoral duty since 1950 when Thomas Wimmer became the first mayor to open the festival, using a mallet to tap the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at noon. It took him 17 blows of a mallet to tap the keg and since then, it has been a matter of mayoral honour to limit the mallet blows as much as possible. The record for the number of mallet blows needed is 2 and it is held by Munich mayor Christian Ude. Ude's successor is reported to have been secretly practising ahead of his first attempt at the record on 20th September.

  • Beer is served in huge glasses known as a Maß which is equivalent to 1.76 UK pints. In Oktoberfest 2013, a city official charged with spot-checking the breweries estimated that only one in three Maß glasses were filled all the way up.

  • There are 15 recovery/hangover beds provided by the Red Cross at Oktoberfest. Between 7,000 and 10,000 people come to the on-site emergency station for medical treatment every year, with 2012 marking a record year for what Germans call Bierleichen (literally 'beer-corpses') with just over 800 staggering their way to the Red Cross. Apparently, there are spare pairs of trousers held at the emergency station to make the journey home slightly less humiliating for serious offenders.

  • The record for the number of beers carried in one go 27 and is held by waiter Oliver Strümpfl, albeit with a certain degree of spillage.
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  • Out of 180 beer festivals, the number of Oktoberfests that actually happened in October has been 58. Up until 1872 the Oktoberfest always began in October but Munich's heavy autumnal rainfall wasn't conducive to beer-induced shenanigans and in 1872, the festival was moved to September.

  • There is a €100 fine if you are caught urinating in public and there are ample facilities - including 878m of urinals for men.
  • There are 168 Oktoberfest-related apps currently available for download including the official one, which tells you which beer tents are less crowded at any given moment and where the cheapest beer is.

  • Around 9,000 people dress in traditional lederhosen and dirndl to take part in the traditional costume parade through Munich on the first Sunday of the fest. It was first held in 1835 to honour the silver wedding anniversary of King Ludwig 1 of Bavaria and Therese, after whom the Oktoberfest site, the Theresienwiese is named.

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  • Oktoberfest contributes an estimated €1.1bn to the Munich economy. The 6.4 million visitors are thought to spend around €320 during the fortnight; hotels and hostels take around €300m with some hiking room prices five or even eight times the usual rate.

  • The six official Munich breweries authorised to sell beer at the Oktoberfest are protected by city council edicts, ensuring that the beer money at least, stays in the local economy.

  • A total of 12,000 people find employment at the Oktoberfest each year.

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