Sense of Belonging

A Yearning for Home

oktoberfest jester afp
Jesters, minstrels, days of yore. Oktoberfest has it all.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Overwhelmed with globalization, many Germans are seeking refuge in their roots. Marketeers are exploiting the trend.

  • Facts


    • Oktoberfest began in 1810 as a five-day celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig.
    • Now Munich’s Oktoberfest attracts more than 6 million visitors a year from all over the world.
    • The festival’s Oide Wiesn, or old meadows site, which focuses on the historical roots of Oktoberfest, is entering its sixth year.
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Josef Schmid, the boss of the Munich Oktoberfest, proudly looked out over the eight-acre lot. Here, on the southern part of the larger “wiesn” (or fairground meadow), were trucks, containers and tents. They are part of the “Oide Wiesn,” or old meadows, the historical Oktoberfest location, where the original concept, traditions and regalia of the folk festival are featured. One of the area’s main attractions is nostalgia.

The Oide Wiesn museum tent has wooden wagons and a mid-1920s version of a fairground ride known as a swing boat. A few yards away is the Herzkasperl performance tent, with its painted figures of Kasper, or Kasperl, as the famous traditional puppet figure is known in southern Germany. The characters are in yellow pants, red jackets and white neck ruffles. One figure is offering an earthenware jug, the other is tipping his hat to the visitors who want to hear the Tölzer Boys Choir or see “The Wiesn Robbers” in the children’s theater.

Munich’s Oktoberfest, the annual beer festival that attracts 6 million visitors, began on Saturday and runs until October 4. The setup work in the Bavarian capital started in mid-July.

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