Beyond the Bier: Oktoberfest

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Megan Beatty
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When many service members are notified they have been selected for an assignment overseas they may be excited about a variety of things, like the prospect of traveling and experiencing a new culture.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put a damper on some of this excitement and limited opportunities to truly experience the country they currently reside in. This is true for some at Ramstein Air Base, Germany where service members who completed a permanent change of station may have missed the chance to experience an authentic Oktoberfest.

Although many Americans could be excited about attending the annual festival, it is possible they do not know the history behind it and how it came to be the event known today.

Oktoberfest originates from Munich with the marriage of Ludwig I, the future king of Bavaria, and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, Oct. 12, 1810 where celebrations lasted five days. Citizens of Munich were invited to attend the royal wedding, participate in festivities, and watch horse races.

According to the city of Munich’s website,, the celebration was so popular it was brought back the following year and also included an agriculture fair. Many new additions were made in following years including horse races and food and drink vendors. These vendors eventually moved to beer halls in the 20th century.

Today, Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the world pay homage to the Oktoberfest in Munich. The festival is traditionally a 17 to 18-day celebration, ending on the first Sunday in October. Since 1950, the mayor of Munich has kicked off the festival by tapping a keg.

Oktoberfest in recent years has yielded six million visitors, including Germans and other tourists, and roughly two million gallons of beer.

For more information about Oktoberfest,