Munich … celebrating Bavaria’s world famous Oktoberfest from its not-so humble beer-ginnings

One would be forgiven in thinking that Munich’s famous beer-drinking festival Oktoberfest was held annually in October. Originally it was held during this month to celebrate the anniversary of the Crown Prince Ludwig’s (later King Ludwig I) marriage to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. In recent decades however, the festival has been moved back to September in the hope of better weather conditions, and timed to finish on the first Sunday of October leading up to Germany’s ‘Unity Day’ on the 3rd. 

Visiting Munich in February of this year (2014), I wasn’t able to witness any of the festivities or legendary beer consumption – according to the festival’s official website, over six and a half million litres of beer were consumed during the 17 day festival in 2013 – so I had to make do with watching folk practicing for this year’s Bavarian drinkathon in the city’s oldest beer hall, the Hofbrauhaus.

The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, or 'Hofbrauhaus' for short. Munich's oldest beer hall, serving beer since 1589

The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, or ‘Hofbrauhaus’ for short. Munich’s oldest beer hall, serving beer since 1589

The warm, inviting interior of the Hofbrauhaus where the cavernous ceilings do little to reduce the volume of the revellers ...

The warm, inviting interior of the Hofbrauhaus where the cavernous ceilings do little to reduce the volume of the revellers …

... so much so one can barely hear the house band

… so much so one can barely hear the house band

Dress code: tie not required, lederhosen optional

Dress code: tie not required, lederhosen optional

Hard Rock Cafe on one side, hard Bavarian drinking on the other

Hard Rock Cafe on one side, hard Bavarian drinking on the other

The Oktoberfest Museum is a little hard to find but is not very far from Isator metro station, half way down a narrow alley between Westenriederstraße and Tal.

Just off the beaten track ... the endearing Oktoberfest Museum

Just off the beaten track … the endearing Oktoberfest Museum

Munich Oktoberfest Museum front entrance

The museum is apparently housed in the oldest town house in Munich where the original architects must have assumed occupants would never be more than five foot six tall.

Watch your head. Low beams and crooked ceilings greet visitors in most of the display rooms at the Oktoberfest Museum (I banged my head twice and I'm only five foot three) ...

Watch your head. Low beams and crooked ceilings greet visitors in most of the display rooms at the Oktoberfest Museum (I banged my head twice and I’m only five foot three) …

.. as well as doorways with height restrictions

.. as well as doorways with height restrictions

Every nook and cranny is utilised by the museum although some uses may have been a little ill thought out, requiring one to bend over rather awkwardly to truly appreciate the displays hidden within them...

Every nook and cranny is utilised by the museum although some uses may have been a little ill thought out, requiring one to bend over rather awkwardly to truly appreciate the displays hidden within them…

Munich Oktoberfest beer steins display close up

The artefacts on show are rather sparse. Some are arguably a little dull (if brewing taps are not your thing) ...

The artefacts on show are rather sparse. Some are arguably a little dull (if brewing taps are not your thing) …

... and some should really be behind a glass display case (I tripped over this crate and scratched my leg)

… and some should really be behind a glass display case (I tripped over this crate and scratched my leg)

... but others, like this pair of stein mugs in the shape of the city's Frankenkirche, are simply delightful

… but others, like this pair of stein mugs in the shape of the city’s Frankenkirche, are simply delightful

Munich Oktoberfest beer steins shaped as the Frankenkirche side view

What is plentiful on display at the museum, and what truly makes a trip here worthwhile are the stunning official posters and postcards from past Oktoberfests, portraying the humour, fun and fondness for the festival.

The official Oktoberfest 1912 poster

The official Oktoberfest 1912 poster

Posters from 1978, 2002 ...

Posters from 1978, 2002 …

... 1926 ...

… 1926 …

... 1955, 1960 ...

… 1955, 1960 …

... another from 1926 ...

… another from 1926 …

... and 1907

… and 1907

Poster and a rather scary looking papier mache head from the Oktoberfest of 1930

Poster and a rather scary looking papier mache head from the Oktoberfest of 1930

A selection of saucy Oktoberfest postcards 1895 - 1910

A selection of saucy Oktoberfest postcards 1895 – 1910

... ...

Once around the museum (and after having passed along a number of unsigned corridors and stairways that either led to a dead-end or to the same room one just left moments ago), what more fitting way to end the trip but to have a beer in the bar downstairs.

... ... ...

Details on the next Oktoberfest can be found here, and more on the museum and where to find it can be found here.

And this is the official website for the Hofbrauhaus.

Cheers! TLT x

The couple who sparked the Oktoberfest tradition: Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen with her beloved, the Crown Prince Ludwig (who looks rather like actor Gary Oldman)

The couple who sparked the Oktoberfest tradition: Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen with her beloved, the Crown Prince Ludwig (who looks rather like actor Gary Oldman)

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