A whole week of blogging devoted to all things Germany. If Lidl can have a German week, I can too, right?
I’d actually penciled this in to start yesterday, but I didn’t feel right kicking off a cheery week devoted to my favourite place in the world on the day our dear Queen was laid to rest. So today is the day.
You might be wondering, what’s brought this on? Why a little Germany event here on Things Helen Loves? Well, if we’ve hung out together before then you’ll probably know I have a lot of love for Germany and all things German.
If we haven’t met before- welcome, and thanks for dropping in- let me explain. I spent six years living in Germany as a military wife, and the country won me over.
I’m now posted in a beautiful corner of Wiltshire, a place I’m enjoying calling home… but, my heart is forever with Germany. So much so, that once we navigate a few residency requirements and Mr THL has wrapped up the army thing, Germany is where we intend to settle.
The thing that’s put a German bee in my bonnet and made want to cheerfully post about all things German right now is the return of Oktoberfest. After events of the past few years shut down the celebrations, 2022 sees the return of the biggest and most beautiful of German festivals.
The official 187th Oktoberfest is back, bigger and better than ever. With a new logo and an extra day of celebrations.
Am I going to make it to Munich this year to take part? Nope. Am I sad about it? Hmm. A little bit. No use moaning though, is there?
I’ll just have my own little German festival right here on Things Helen Loves. I hope you’ll join me. German beers are optional, but highly encouraged. Let’s begin with a little dive into Oktoberfest- Prost!
Oktoberfest: The History
Oktoberfest. It’s happened 187 times now and has earned the title of Munich’s ‘ Fifth Season’, but where did it all begin?
Oktoberfest began life as a wedding party. In 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen and a five-day celebration was held in honour of the marriage.
The celebrations were open to all, a public festival of shooting, music, illuminations and a horse race. The festival grounds were called ‘Theresien-wiese’ or ‘Therese’s Meadow’ in honour of the royal bride. The name stuck, although it’s abbreviated these days to a simple ‘Wiesn’.
The celebration was a hit and so was repeated year after year and so was born the October festivals- Oktoberfest. The festival evolved, developing as an agricultural fair and then as a funfair. And of course, whatever was drawing visitors in, they needed to be fed and lubricated. Enterprising local landlords set up beer stalls and served up Bavarian foodie treats.
And so was born the Oktoberfest we know today. Food, beer, fun. The very best of Munich and true Bavarian hospitality.
One of the best things about Oktoberfest is the way in which it has found a place on the international events scene and yet it remains, at heart, a local festival. This is reflected in the beers on offer and the rules around what can be sold.
Only Munich beer from, ‘proper and proven traditional Munich breweries’ that meets the standards of the Munich Purity Law of 1487 and the German Purity Law of 1906 may be served.
If you’re drinking at Oktoberfest, you’ll be drinking good Munich beer from one of the six Munich breweries. If you’re doing Oktoberfest at home, you’ve many German beers to choose from.
Beerhawk have some excellent Oktoberfest bundles for the authentic fest-at-home experience. Also, a nice range of alternative German beers, including my favourite: Veltins.
Oktoberfest is back, after a three-year break. The heart of the world’s biggest folk festival remains traditional, but the branding has had a little update. There’s a new logo and a new relationship with Munich Tourist Info, who will be running their own stand on site for the first time.
There is the same mix of tents, large and small but also some new additions. For example, the Schützenlisl, a tent with a focus on folk music. It’s not all beer and pretzels either.
The oldest coffee tent at the festival has been rebranded and renamed ‘Café Theres’ in honour of the Royal who started it all. This is the only tent with an on-site bakery, producing fresh cakes, bakes and apple strudel. No long beer benches here; just a relaxed atmosphere and cafe style seating.
And finally, for a nostalgic Oktoberfest experience, the Oide Wiesn. Vintage fairground rides, cosy beer tents and oodles of Bavarian tradition. This is a glimpse into Oktoberfest of the past.
Oktoberfest 2022 runs from 17.9 – 3.10. 2022. Entrance to the festival ground itself is free, with the exception of Oide Wiesn, for which there is a small entrance charge. For all up to date details and info on the festival, visit the official Oktoberfest 2022 website.
Before You Go…
A few other little Oktoberfest themed suggestions.
For Oktoberfest themed viewing, check out Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood. This miniseries is a work of fiction, but with lots of real-life history woven into the plot. Fascinating story, some gorgeous costumes and some strong female characters.
For authentic German food and drink in the UK, try German Deli.
For the perfect Oktoberfest outfit- or at least a bit of virtual window shopping- have a look at Munich based Cocovero, or Austrian traditional designer Lena Hoescheck. Things of beauty, if a little spendy.
Last but not least, I couldn’t let an Oktoberfest post go without resharing this bit of creative genius. Mr Oktoberfest. We made him for our own Oktoberfest party a few years back. He looks a fun kinda guy, doesn’t he?
Over to you. Have you been to Munich? To Oktoberfest? Would you fancy it? And, more importantly, would you don lederhosen or a dirndl?
We did it once, when Linda worked for a German insurance company, Allianz and was on an executive’s course which happened to coincide with the Oktoberfest. I just had to tail along as the token other half, the only male ‘other’ at the many social events. I was still drinking back then, so sampled several beers – Lowenbrau I think – as well as enjoying all Munich had to offer while she worked. It was 1988 and the Olympics from Seoul were on. I remember watching GB play West Germany at hockey in the final in a bar somewhere near the Englishe Garten; when GB scored two late goals to win gold. I waited for all the post match chat but the German broadcasters swapped to handball. I was horrified. I’d love to go back and see it again. I have a huge fondness for all German’s big cities (well, not Frankfurt – that’s an armpit) and Berlin and Hamburg come out top, but I’d be happy to try and see if Munich can split their hegemony in my affections.
Ah brilliant memories! I’m insisting for one more visit to Oktoberfest as we have steins from all but two of the Munich breweries and I’d love to complete the collection. I did a few weekends to Frankfurt, I didn’t care much for the city centre but had some nice wanders out into surrounding areas. I’d encourage anyone to visit Berlin and/or Hamburg but Leipzig is great too.
I too have lived in Germany and love the place but my idea of hell is Oktoberfest.
Is that just the big Oktoberfest that is hell, or is anything like that just not for you? Am I right in remembering you lived in the South- Lake Constance way?
Yes, we lived on Lake Constance. I don’t drink beer, there’s way too many folks and I heartily dislike this type of thing. That said, I’ve happily attended loads of wine festivals,
My husband used to be a teacher of German, and has twice lived there, so of course we too have enjoyed holidays in Germany. It’s a bit of a best-kept secret, isn’t it, as few Brits seem to holiday there? Their loss. Not sure about the Oktoberfest though. I just …. don’t like beer.
Definitely their loss! We get a few odd looks when we talk about going back to visit, more so when we talk about going back to live. We did a holiday in the Harz mountains just before lockdown and were a bit of a novelty as they got so few Brits up there. If beer isn’t your thing, Oktoberfest might wear thin very quickly!
Well, that’s interesting to know, Helen. Obviously if you lived there for 10 years you know you like the place. Different living in army quarters though, with the support of other wives? Do you still have friends there and will you go back to the same area? And do you speak German? Questions! Questions!
Although we lived just across the North Sea for all those years we never ventured there, but I can say that for France too, with the exception of Paris. Our focus then was Italy and the Greek Islands, and latterly, of course, Poland and Portugal. My Dad was heavily prejudiced against Germans, and Russians too, but you can understand that. My one venture was across the German border with Zgorzelec, where my uncle lived, and it was very beautiful, so who knows? Maybe one day. We have 2 German friends here who have an apartment (and a grandchild) in Cologne. They praise German efficiency but I think they may prefer the Portuguese lifestyle.
Oooh I love questions! We lived away from camp in a German town. The army rented clusters of homes so we had a few Brit neighbours, but mostly German. Who really didn’t know what to make of us, I don’t think. I’ve a handful of friends who’ve settled in Germany, but they are spread far and wide.
I don’t think I’d go back to the same area, much as I liked it. I’m drawn to Thuringia, I fancy a fixer upper in a rural area. There was a train station for sale near Berlin last year and I fancied taking it on, but Mr THL said no, too much work. And yes we do speak German- he can get by and I’d put myself at conversational. My youngest son is too, as he went to bilingual Kindergarten so learned German alongside English and hasn’t lost it. Of course, lots of German wives in the British military so always a someone to practice with!
Totally understand your Dad feeling as he did. Our travels around and from Germany, especially to the more unknown areas, taught me a lot about why old hurts sometimes die hard.
Thanks for the comprehensive reply, Helen. Like Sarah I will be very interested to see how it pans out. Good luck, hon! 🤗🤗
That’s interesting Jo. We both have Polish dads, as we both know, and while my dad would never forgive the Germans of the war-time generation and before – his part of Poland became German territory, he didn’t extend his hatred to post-war Germans, except … an excellent linguist, German was one language he declined to learn.
I hadn’t previously realised how much you love Germany, although I knew you’ve lived there. I’ve enjoyed my several visits to different parts of the country (Aachen, Koblenz (a favourite!), Kempten and more) and will happily travel there again. My husband is fluent in the language (he lived in Austria for a year so it’s more Austrian than German but it works fine!) and I have a smattering. We love German wine, beer and food (although I can’t get on with sauerkraut) and often go to German restaurants in London. Yet all that said, it wouldn’t occur to me to want to live there. Italy yes, Paris for sure, Vienna, maybe Portugal. I’m not sure why not, and I’d never say never, but … Still, I’ll be fascinated to follow your adventures as and when you make it over there 😀
I find it interesting that people are drawn to different places for different reasons, or maybe for no definable reason at all. I actually hated Germany at first, it was a process getting settled in. I’m with you on Sauerkraut, I’m told it is an acquired taste but I’m yet to acquire it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’d be delighted to have you along as the adventure unfolds!
He was a gentle man in every sense of the word, Margaret, but I’m afraid he did have tunnel vision on that score. He loved football but never wanted to watch a German team. His Mam and Dad had such a miserable life after what happened to him and he simply could not forgive and forget. In the Azores we met a lovely young German couple and I talked a little to them about the war. Not a nice heritage to live with, but then, neither is our colonial one. 😔💗
I’ve visited Germany numerous times but not made it to Munich or Oktoberfest yet but hopefully one day. Interesting that you would like to settle in Germany long term. Can you both speak some German? I studied French and German to A Level but as it was so long ago I don’t remember much. If I didn’t live in the UK I would definitely choose Finland! Marion
Looking at your posts from Finland, I can see why you’d be drawn there! Yes, we can both speak some German. There’s a lot of Anglo-German households in the military community, many a German girl has been won over by a British squaddie so I do get to practice with native speakers sometimes…which always highlights how much I have to learn!
I have been to Munich, but not to Oktoberfest. We went at Easter (many years ago) and were perturbed to have snow. I discovered that both my boots and the hotel window leaked! I’d like to go back some day. I learned German at school and my first experience of the country was on an exchange as a 14 year old. That was Gelsenkirchen in the Sauerland. Most of my language skills have disappeared but I can still get by on the important stuff like ordering beer, coffee and cake.
The ability to order and enjoy beer, coffee and cake will take you a long way in Germany, Anabel!
Well, what else does one need?
Yikes, I don’t like 🍻 beer! I much prefer cider, does Germany do cider?
Whilst we were on holiday in Scotland recently, the lady owner of our holiday home greeted us dressed in a Bavarian maids outfit crossed with cricket gear! Their family tradition was ‘ Crictoberfest’ apparently, not sure why. 😁
I cannot even imagine that outfit, or what Crictober fest might involve… but I’ll try anything once and you never know, it might catch on! Yes, there are a couple of German ciders, or cider like drinks. I think it’s Trier and Frankfurt that are known for them… I definitely had a few of something fruity in Trier. The memory of the heavy head the next day has stayed with me!
and they were holding it the weekend we arrived. They did invite us, but sadly we didn’t go….
Great post! Never been to Germany but after reading this post would love to visit!
“my heart is forever with Germany” – How very wonderful! Mine, too, but that’s quite natural for a native German, isn’t it?
Thanks for the wonderful post.
Alles Gute und ein schoenes Wochenende,
Ah, it makes me genuinely happy that you like this post, Pit! Wishing you a wonderful weekend also.
Mein Herz ist auch immer bei Deutschland…….I would have LOVED to have settled there for good but alas my husband won’t leave Cambridgeshire so we compromise on visiting a lot. It’s a wonderful country, I totally agree.
The joys of marrying a soldier- he’s used to doing what he’s told haha! Do you have a family connection to Germany or did the place just steal your heart?
Certainly is- thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment!