• Oktoberfest is held in Munich, Germany between September 21 – October 6 2013
• Over six million people visit Oktoberfest each year, consuming seven million litres of beer
• 155% increase in German hotel room investment in Q1 2013 (Savills)
The crowds are about to flock to current ‘tourism Mecca’ Munich once again for Oktoberfest 2013 (21September – 6 October). The renowned beer festival is just one of a growing number of reasons why Germany (and particularly Munich) took the lead in this year’s UN World Tourism Organisation rankings, with record hotel booking of over 400 million overnight stays.
Known as the largest Volkesfest (People’s Fair) in the world, Oktoberfest originated with a party to celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen on October 17, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gate, now known as Theresienwiese (Theresa’s meadow), or Wies’n. The wedding celebrations ended with horse races and it was the decision to repeat the races the following year, which gave birth to the annual event which is now Oktoberfest.
Bratwurst booths arrived in 1881, followed by the first serving of beer in glass mugs in 1892. Today, in order to meet Oktoberfest’s strict standards, beer must conform to a minimum of 13% Stammwürze (approximately 6% alcohol by volume) and be brewed within Munich’s city limits. The date has also since been moved forward to September to catch the end of the summer weather.
Oktoberfest’s 200th anniversary in 2010 saw the special return of horseracing in historical costumes. A commemorative beer was brewed to serve exclusively in the festival beer tents and a museum tent gave visitors a feel of how the event felt a century ago. Traditional Oktoberfest visitors still wear Bavarian hats called Tirolerhüte, which contain a tuft of goat hair.
The 420,000 sqm Theresienwiese is 10 times the size of Wembley stadium and offers a selection of decorative tents selling beer, cocktails, savouries, cakes and various wares; along with fairground ride attractions and celebratory events including concerts and parades. Approximately seven million litres of beer are consumed at Oktoberfest today.
The festival is now such a successful worldwide attraction that Lufthansa airline kicks off the party 30,000 feet in the air. From 18 September, flight attendants wear traditional lederhosen and dirndl on select flights between Munich and New York, Chicago and Tokyo. ‘Oktoberfest crew’ is a popular tradition which has been running for a few years and business class passengers are also served Bavarian food and beer on the flights. And this year, even Bayern Munich football team are getting into the spirit by launching and wearing a lederhosen-inspired kit. Fodors.com also cited Munich’s Oktoberfest as one of the ‘14 Best Places to Go This Fall’.
Attracting some six million visitors from all over the world each year, Oktoberfest plays an important role in Germany’s tourism industry. Hotels in and around Munich are often fully booked months in advance and getting a seat in one of the tents can get very competitive. Germany’s hotel market in fact continues to go from strength to strength with Savills reporting a 155% increase in the nation’s hotel room investment in Q1 2013 compared to a year earlier and forecasts a turnover in commercial property to hit the €30billion (EURO) mark this year. Germany also currently ranks number two in the top recession-proof property markets, second only to Monaco.
Ray Withers, CEO of Property Frontiers, explains: “German property is becoming increasingly attractive; having avoided the housing boom which occurred in many countries before the crash, the German market has remained on an even keel and values continue to rise at a gradual, yet steady pace.”
He continues: “Germany continues to win accolades for its economy and tourism trade. Now it is also offering excellent returns in the property market particularly so in commercial property such as hotel rooms, which take advantage of all these factors combined. It is easy to see why Ernst & Young, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms, cite Germany as the most attractive destination for foreign investors in 2013.”