Lederhosen, brats and lager! Say the word “Oktoberfest” and these are usually the first thoughts to run through a person’s head. The long running tradition of Oktoberfest is over a century old and still going strong. It is a celebration of all things German culture and it lasts for 16 days. Surprisingly, this celebration is not relegated to the country of Germany itself; rather, it is celebrated the world over. But despite its name, Oktoberfest is actually celebrated in September. So this begs the question: why in the world is Oktoberfest celebrated in September rather than the month of its namesake?

Although it is a popular holiday and is celebrated internationally, not many people know the true origins of the festival. Ahead is everything you need to know that goes way beyond the lederhosen.

Why Is Oktoberfest in September?

The first Oktoberfest took place in the city of Munich in 1810 and was, in fact, held in October. However, rainy autumn weather plagued the celebration from the start. In 1872, organizers moved the start of the celebration to September to avoid the shorter and colder days of October. The longer and warmer days were preferable and made for a more comfortable celebration. The original five-day celebration of Oktoberfest was expanded to multiple weeks of events that began in mid September and would end the first week of October. 

Oktoberfest is a popular Bavarian celebration that is hosted in Germany and is during September.

The History and Origins of Oktoberfest

The original reasoning behind the celebration centered upon the wedding of Bavarian King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich attended events like parades, beer tastings and races to celebrate the nuptials. The celebration was like a state agricultural fair in its early days. As a result of this nuptial jubilation, the Oktoberfest festival grounds are referred to as “Theresienwiese” to honor the bride. 

Modern Celebrations of Oktoberfest in Germany

Oktoberfest is a holiday full of lager and food that is in September and celebrated internationally.

Oktoberfest has grown exponentially since it was first celebrated. Today, this festival is celebrated not only in Germany, but all over the world.

The official Oktoberfest is still held in Munich each year and is considered the largest folk festival in the world with over six million visitors annually. So, when exactly is Oktoberfest in Germany? It starts on September 16 and ends October 3, but can change from year to year (usually beginning mid to late September and running through to the first Sunday of October). Guests can go to see the Oide Wiesn, which is a historic area within the Theresienwiese, that has traditional market stands and rides. People gather wearing traditional outfits like lederhosen and large steins of lager are served throughout the festival. With around 200 fairground companies contributing to the celebration and 80 carousel rides, Munich’s Oktoberfest is an event visitors will not want to miss.

The head count for this event throughout the last few years has been between 5.5 and 6.9 million people. The Theresienwiese spans 103 acres and has over 14 festival tents inside it. Visitors can reserve tables in the beer tents, listen to music and eat assorted food and drinks during the fest. Since this event is so popular and attracts many international travelers, public transportation is especially important. Transportation is accessible to visitors whether they prefer the bus, rail or tram services.

Oktoberfest in the United States

Luckily, one can celebrate Oktoberfest without ever having to leave the States. Oktoberfest in the United States roughly follows the same schedule as the one in Germany, running for 16 days total starting in late September and ending in early October. There are many cities in the United States that host their own Oktoberfest celebrations and, consequently, have their own traditions. It’s important to research particular locations to get a feel for how they size up to the Munich celebration. Some of the most popular Oktoberfest events are held in Washington, Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, Georgia and Vermont.

The celebrations of Oktoberfest in the United States are less cohesive than Munich’s celebration since many areas and states host regional pop ups. For the most authentic experience of Oktoberfest, head over to Munich during September. And no matter what, do not forget to pack that lederhosen.