The origins of Oktoberfest dates back to October 12, 1810 in Munich, Germany where Crown Prince Ludwig celebrated his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen with five days and nights of food, drink, dancing and games in the fields in front of the city gates. In the year’s since the royal couple’s nuptials, Oktoberfest has become a yearly tradition throughout Germany and in many places around the world.
While attending an authentic Oktoberfest is on many people’s bucket list, if you can’t make it to Munich and there are no celebrations planned locally, you can host an Oktoberfest yourself.
Your Own Oktoberfest
1) Set a Capacity and Budget
First decide how many guests you can or want to accommodate for a private Oktoberfest. This will depend mostly on your budget, but also the size of the venue you select. However, the size of the venue will usually depend on how much you can afford to spend. One tip is to look around to see if there is a vacant lot or field that can be had on the cheap.
Large events will often run over budget very quickly and extremely easily and, if not carefully planned, will leave you with a deficit that could sink the party before it starts. Create your budget by taking onto account tents, table and chair hire, entertainment, food and miscellaneous expenses such as permits and security. Allocate a specific budget for each category and carefully track your budget to be sure you have a little left over for unexpected expenses.
2) Make a Checklist
Hosting any event requires precise organization and failure to keep track of everything that must be done will usually mean forgetting something.
3) Decide on a Venue
Several factors must be taken into account when selecting the place to host your Oktoberfest celebration. These types of events tend to attract big crowds so, unless you plan to limit the attendance, choose a space large enough to hold at least a couple of hundred people. The venue should be in an area that is easily accessible and where there will be plenty of parking and where you won’t be getting a lot of noise complaints and be sure to check on local noise ordinances. Because one of the main events at Oktoberfest is drinking beer, the venue should be reasonably close to public transportation.
Finally, unexpected things do sometimes happen so be sure to have a cancellation and rescheduling agreement with the venue in case you have to change the dates.
Music and dancing are a big part of any authentic Oktoberfest celebration. Try to find a band that can perform Volk music as well as modern and international classics and you could have them dress in traditional Bavarian outfits. You will also need a DJ for times when the band isn’t playing or if your budget won’t allow for live music. If you budget will permit, booking some Bavarian folk dancers will guarantee your celebration will be long remembered.
Contests are always a big hit with Oktoberfest goers. Stein relay races have teams of two or more running through a course with a beer stein full of water. The team that finishes with the least amount of spilled water is the winner. A stein holding contest simply has contestants hold a stein full of water in one hand with their arm outstretched at shoulder height. The goal is to see who can hold the stein the longest without spilling any water. A beer-drinking contest is good fun, but does require some common sense. Have participants start with the same amount of beer in their steins and begin drinking at the same time. The winner of course is the one who empties their mug first. Have some type of prize for the winners, such as a specially engraved commemorative beer stein.
5) Set Up Beer Tents
While tradition dictates Oktoberfest has 14, you don’t need many beer tents to ensure your attendees have a great time. Local breweries and event sponsors should be able to hook you up. Name each tent based on what it offers and charge an accordingly appropriate entry fee to each tent.
6) Long Tables
Because Oktoberfest is a festival atmosphere, long tables are must so large groups of friends can all sit together. Large tables are also part of the tradition of “festival” seating that is the norm in Europe.
Because it is of course a German-born celebration, Oktoberfest calls for lots of German flags to remind everyone of the event’s origins. Look online for German flags and try to find some small flags that people can take home for souvenirs.
Schweinebraten (roat pork), Schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles), sauerkraut, Würstl (classic Bavarian sausages) and Brezen (pretzels) are all traditional Oktoberfest fare. However, you don’t stop there. You can have all types of German food like Reiberdatschi that are potato pancakes served with a salad or apple sauce and Obatzda that is a German beer and cheese dip. Offer small “sample” size portions so guests can try them all. It will take a little research, but you can set up food booths that offer the best kind of food to down with each beer. Just don’t forget the desserts!
Beer is obviously the main attraction for many so be sure you have a good selection of beers. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on fancy and expensive imported brews, most local stores and breweries will begin offering Oktoberfest-style beers in late August so this is the time to stock up. However, for a truly authentic experience, six Munich breweries produce official Oktoberfestbier that is served in Munich. Some of these brewers ship to other countries and a little research will tell you what is available in your area. While these are more expensive than domestic options, guests will likely appreciate the authenticity.
10) Create Customized Tickets
Design tickets that will reflect your brand and be something that guests will want to keep as mementos. Use Oktoberfest colours and illustrations to capture your guests attention and imagination. Blue and white signify the spirit of harmony and peace for any festival and as Oktoberfest is rightly the celebration of autumn’s abundance in the northern hemisphere, autumn colours like orange, gold and dark reds represent the various colours of Oktoberfest beers. If you are selling tickets online, customize your ticketing domain with the same artwork as on your tickets to promote your brand.
11) Promote Your Event
While promoting your Oktoberfest event on social media sites is a great place to start, many local people will not even be aware of the event if you do not promote it locally. Radio spots during drive time will reach thousands of people. Fliers posted in local pubs, restaurants and shops will get the word out to the local communities. This three-pronged marketing approach will have your Oktoberfest sold out in no time.
Remember that Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest and is supposed to be to honour the five day and night celebration when Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese celebrated their nuptials with the entire town. Hosting your own Oktoberfest event will allow people who will never be able to travel to Munich the same chance to take part in the festival that has become a world-wide phenomena. Just don’t forget to have the all important ceremonial tapping of the first keg to begin the festivities.
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