Oktoberfest 2010, for those that don't know is the largest 'fair' in the world celebrating that glorious golden liquid in which the Germans are unquestionably awesome at creating. Around 6 million people visit the 16 day festival every year, Kelly and I visited for a few short, but eventful nonetheless days with an extra bonus day courtesy of Easy Jet.
The fest is and has been since it started in 1810 a part of Munich's culture, it consists of various attractions, from roller coasters, food stalls, rides and of course many beer tents. The beer tents aren't just beer tents, they are enormous semi-permanent structures typically of wooden construction, some have multiple levels and all have ornate wooden carvings, fabric banners and a stage of some kind. Inside this structure there are rows upon rows of wooden tables and benches most tents have an inside capacity of 6,000 patrons. You can see all this in the picture above, the to the top left is a open gazebo form which traditional bands would play.
The beer of Oktoberfest is typically lager, served in a 1 litre stein or 'Maß' which costs around 9 euros. Each tent is operated by an associated beer house and only the houses' beer is served within, the beer in the picture above is 'Paulaner-Bräu', a favourite of mine. The steins can't be taken outside of the drinking areas and this rule is strictly enforced, they are incredibly heavy and when thrown would cause a lot of damage! Food at Oktoberfest is plentiful, and all to traditional German tastes, is is served within the beer tents on large platters and fellow bench sharers often invite others to tuck in too, there is a fantastic sense of hospitality and kindness from everyone, especially the Germans.
Once one has finished drinking there are countless ways to ensure the drink doesn't stay down for too long, one place Kelly and I spent a log of time spectating was the 'Teufelsrad'. This amusement is is a large wooden spinning disk in the middle of a padded arena, participants clamber on to the disk which then starts spinning slowly, people fly off until the disk is spinning pretty fast. A heavy padded ball is then lowered from the roof in an attempt to dislodge people from the disk, occasionally this didn't work and an attendant would use a large rope to literally snag people! Countless hours were spent laughing at people fall and slide, most of whom were pretty drunk.
I simply can't describe how fantastic this festival is, many people have misconceptions that it's just a drunken free for all, that couldn't be further from the truth... Even if you're not a beer drinker I insist that at some point in your life you visit, you will not regret it.