It's Oktoberfest time: enjoy das Bierfest!

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Last Saturday, September 17th, Munich’s mayor kicked off the annual Oktoberfest celebrations by tapping 2011’s first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Yes, it's still September, but the festival traditionally lasts until the end of the first weekend in October. Oktoberfest began as a city-wide celebration of the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810, and 201 years later, it's still going strong. With attendance numbers hovering around 5 million people, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair, one of the most famous events in Germany, and an important part of Bavarian culture.

Only beer which is brewed within the city limits of Munich is allowed to be served at Oktoberfest. The city’s residents and international visitors consume incredible amounts of beer during the 17-day festival, with estimates hovering around 7 million litres each year. Giant beer tents are open from 10am in the morning (9am on weekends!) until late at night, giving partiers ample time to sample the local brews. It’s also an excellent excuse for locals and visitors alike to indulge in a variety of traditional German and Bavarian food, such as Weisswürstl (sausages), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Blaukraut (red cabbage) and Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread).

The largest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany take place in Canada, in the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, which draw crowds of 1 million each year, eager to don their lederhosen and dirndls.

If you happen to be in Munich during Oktoberfest, prepare for laughter, noise and crowds galore! A couple of our Munich guides, Ilona and Simone, offer Oktoberfest-themed Tours that help you understand the traditions and customs (believe it or not, there’s more to Oktoberfest than the beer tents!) that define this world-class event.
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