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Video:Guide to Oktoberfest

with Omar Saad

Oktoberfest is a popular cultural festival in the Bavarian region of Germany. Here is a brief guide to Oktoberfest.See Transcript

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Transcript:Guide to Oktoberfest

Hi, I'm Omar Saad with About.com and today we're going to look at Oktoberfest, its history and how to celebrate it without having to go all the way to Germany.

The History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is an annual two-and-a-half week long festival that takes place in Munich, Bavaria, Germany beginning in mid-September and running through the 2nd or 3rd day of October. The festival began 1810 as a royal wedding celebration. The early festival featured various events and games and up until 1960, traditional horse races.

Since the early 1950s, the festival has opened with a traditional 12-gun salute. The first keg is then tapped by the mayor of Munich and Oktoberfest is underway.

Oktoberfest Costumes and Main Attractions

Participants who are interested in the traditional aspects of the festival can wear a Tyrolean hat, also know as a Bavarian hat. These hats feature sprigs of goat hair coming out from the side. Other more elaborate traditional costumes are Lederhosen for men and Dirndl for women.

Oktoberfest is one of the world's largest festivals. While it's got a carnival-like atmosphere, featuring food and activities for all ages, the main attractions are the 14 different beer tents that are the focus of the festival. Six Bavarian breweries have traditionally been allowed to brew their special Oktoberfest marzen for the event.

Celebrate Oktoberfest at Home

If you want to celebrate Oktoberfest but can't make it out to Germany, you are probably still in luck. As the festival has grown in popularity, communities around the world have started their own Oktoberfest celebrations.

Start by looking at your local community events calendar either at your local chamber of commerce or parks and rec department. If you've got a traditional German restaurant or a Hofbrau in your area, you'll have a good chance to find an Oktoberfest celebration there.

Tips for Throwing an Oktoberfest Party

If you can't find an Oktoberfest celebration in your town, start one yourself. Find a group of friends ready to celebrate and your on your way. Oktoberfest is usually celebrated outdoors, so find a nice spot decorate it with the colors of the German flag or the colors of fall. Either way you're bound to set the right mood.

Remember that the central component of any Oktoberfest is beer, and not just any beer; to do it right you'll need some Bavarian marzen. This type of ale usually features an amber color, a malty flavor and a level of alcohol higher than your average beer. You'll also need an Oktoberfest-style beer stein, typically capable of holding around a liter of beer.

Oktoberfest is also all about having fun with friends, so be sure that the atmosphere set is one of celebration. Play games, dance, and in keeping with Oktoberfest tradition, have plenty of good music that everyone can sing along to. As far as food goes, you can't go wrong with German-style sausages, sauerkraut and black forest cake. Now that you know what to do, grab your steins and get ready to have a ton of fun with friends and family.

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