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Smashing fun at world's largest beer fest

Last updated on: September 25, 2010 12:48 IST

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200 years on, fun, frolic and beer continues to flow in Bavarian capital Munich.

Oktoberfest, the largest festival in the world, is attended by some six million visitors from all around the world every year.

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Image: People toast with beer during the opening day of the 177th Oktoberfest in Munich September 18, 2010
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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Oktoberfest, a festival of Munich's beer and one of the Bavarian capital's trademarks, is a household term in all parts of the world. It is not without good reason that there are around 3,000 'sister' Oktoberfests spread out all over the world.

And who doesn't dream of experiencing the original in Munich some time in their life or at least of visiting the 'beer Mecca' one day?

Image: People wearing traditional Bavarian clothes toast with beer during the opening day of the 177th Oktoberfest
Photographs: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
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The festival has much more to offer than exciting roller-coasters and huge beer tents.

While on the Oktoberfest grounds high-tech rides and attractions such as the Olympia Looping and the Star Flyer spin visitors at racing speed to dizzying heights, huge festival halls seating up to 10,000 guests invite revellers to enjoy beer and chicken.


Image: People wearing traditional Bavarian clothes toast with beer during the opening day of the 177th Oktoberfest in Munich
Photographs: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
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The anniversary celebration is dedicated to the origin and history of the world's largest folk festival.


Image: A couple look at traditional gingerbread hearts for a sale on a stall in the festival grounds
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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It offers fairground entertainment that has become rare, such as nostalgic merry-go-rounds and public spectacles, horse races and animal shows, art, culture and historical customs, special culinary delights and a multi-faceted programme for children.


Image: People wearing traditional Bavarian clothes toast with beer during the opening day of the 177th Oktoberfest in Munich
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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Four years after Bavaria was proclaimed a kingdom, Crown Prince Ludwig -- who later became King Ludwig I -- and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen celebrated their wedding on October 12, 1810.

The official wedding festivities lasted five days and were staged as a grand ovation to the ruling dynasty of the young Wittelsbach kingdom.

Image: People in traditional Bavarian clothes take part in the Parade of the Landlords and Breweries during the opening of the 177th Oktoberfest in Munich
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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The downtown festivities, which were known as a 'folk festival', were brought to a finale on October 17 with a horserace on a meadow in front of the gates of Munich.

In honour of the bride, the festive meadow was named 'Theresens-Wiese'. Thus the grounds for Oktoberfest are called "Theresienwiese" till today -- a term that was abbreviated to 'Wiesn' in common Munich parlance.

Image: A general view of the festival grounds on the opening day of the 177th Oktoberfest in Munich
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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The decision to repeat the popular horse race at the same time the following year gave rise to the tradition of 'October festivals', which have thrilled guests from all over the world for 200 years.

Image: People in traditional costumes march during the Oktoberfest parade in Munich
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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Twice a day horses compete in the grand arena of the racetrack.

Guests can watch the races from a grandstand and enjoy the presentation of historic customs, groups dressed in traditional attire and folk dancing.

Image: A woman in a traditional costume sits on a horse carriage during the Oktoberfest parade in Munich
Photographs: Michael Dalder/Reuters
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The museum tent of the Munchner Stadtmuseum and the Munich Association of Showmen is presenting historical exhibits and rides from the olden days.

Here you can experience the 'Ride into Paradise' built in 1939 as well as the 'Calypso' from the 1950s.

Image: A waitress serves beer during the opening day of the 177th Oktoberfest in Munich
Photographs: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
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At the 'Herzkasperl' tent, a free cultural programme with readings and political satire, folk music and city sound awaits spectators.

Image: People wearing traditional Bavarian clothes toast with beer
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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At the historical festive tent traditional customs including folk dance, whip-cracking demonstrations and Bavarian brass bands are presented every day.

There you can celebrate as the Bavarian ancestors did 200 years ago: When classical Munich dishes such as "B fflamott" (beef stew) and "Rumfort soup" (stew with vegetables and pulses) and beer jointly brewed for this occasion by Munich breweries are served exclusively during the anniversary celebration.


Image: Bavarian men in traditional attire play alphorns to celebrate 200 years of Oktoberfest
Photographs: Michael Dalder/Reuters
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A special programme for children with pony rides, lemonade garden close to the festive tent, 'Kasperltheater' (Punch and Judy show), petting zoo and various games round out the attractions of the anniversary celebration.


Image: Gingerbread dough for traditional Oktoberfest hearts pass along a conveyor belt after being cut out
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
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