Oktoberfest kicks off

2012-09-22 22:07
A waitress counts money behind a beer tent during the "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, Germany. (Matthias Schrader, AP)

A waitress counts money behind a beer tent during the "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, Germany. (Matthias Schrader, AP)

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Berlin - The world's largest beer festival opened on Saturday in Germany as Munich's mayor tapped the first keg to kick off the 16-day Oktoberfest, known for its oompah music and traditional costumes.

With only two blows of his hammer and a cry of "O'zapft is" - "It's Tapped" - Mayor Christian Ude inserted the tap into the first keg, opening the 179th Oktoberfest to the cheering of thousands who were waiting to be served their first beer.
More than 6 million guests from around the world are expected to descend on the beer tents of Munich to celebrate the 16-day Oktoberfest extravaganza.

Last year's visitors consumed almost 8 million one-litre mugs of beer.

The Oktoberfest started with a wedding party: Just over 200 years ago, Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig celebrated his royal nuptials with a big public bash that was such a hit it became an annual event. Nowadays, it is now known worldwide for its towering mugs of beer, oompah music, men wearing traditional Bavarian Lederhosen leather shorts and women in bright costumes.

While the core of the Oktoberfest remains the same, with Dirndl-clad waitresses delivering steins, its flavour has evolved over the years.

Last year, the Oktoberfest guests ate around 500 000 chickens, 120 oxen and an unknown number of large doughy pretzels at the festival.

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