It's a 16 day party in München, and the world's biggest one, with 7 million visitors annually, at the Theresienwiese or WIES'N (field) 5 blocks from München Hbf. It started in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig I and Princess Theresa of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
There are seats for 100,000 in the many steel and wood 'tents',or FESTZELTS, some holding as many as 10,000 people, drinking almost 7 million x1 litre steins of bier, to accompany chickens on the spit, sausages, dumplings, pork, sauerkraut, radishes, fish and more. They don't come cheap. A Mass of bier is 8.50 Euros, about 40% more than in town, but they come in droves, dressed in leiderhosen, drndl for the women, and fancy T shirts and funny Bavarian hats.
Since 1816 there has also been a fun fair which today has rides of all descriptions for young and old. There are lots of drunks, they call them BIERLEICHEN (beer corpses) and they are helped to their feet by first aid workers. 72% of the visitors are Bavarians, but tourists from around the world can be seen from USA, Australia, Japan, Korea, Canada, Britain, Spain, Italy etc. There are 14 main tents and I visited the 8 biggest ones to take photos and collect the unique menus as souvenirs. I was 'guiding' my Norwegian friends for which the high prices were a bargain compared with Scandinavian prices. After 8 x 1 litres each they found the way home via a bicycle rickshaw to the Hauptbahnhof. I had long gone home,
Until 6.00pm it is quiet time in the tents, sound from the Bavarian bands in each tent limited to 85 decibels, and then schlager music, much louder, until closing time at 11.00 pm.
About 28 times the festival has been cancelled due to wars, and sadly in 1980 a pipe bomb killed 13 and injured 200 when an extreme right wing disgruntled youth, Gundolf Kohler, set it off and he didn't run away fast enough and also died.
This year the weather is hot, hot and the tents are warm, with smoking permitted, so many sit outside the tents and drink in the sun. The fair ground rides attract young and old from rifle ranges, big wheels, ghost rides, swings, roundabouts and all sorts of candy and those love shaped gingerbread souvenirs that everyone hangs around their necks. The show goes on and its a great place to see and be seen, ever autumn in the capital of fun. München.