Munich, the Bavarian capital, is Germany's third-largest city. It offers a large number of museums and art collections and a variety of music and theatre events, making it a cultural metropolis. It is also home to Germany's largest university with almost 100,000 students.
Despite all that, Munich has retained an almost provincial flavour. True natives continue to take pride in their Bavarian customs and traditions, at the same time working and playing hard.
Germany has many colourful festivals keeping old traditions alive. Getaway went to Munich to join in the fun of Oktoberfest beer festival which dates back to the celebration of Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen's wedding in 1810. It began with a horse race, other events were added and today the main attraction at the end of each September is the beer festival.
Around six million visitors go to the massive jamboree every year. It is non-stop processions, folk music, rides, circus, bands and much beer drinking. The 16-day long festival actually begins in September with an opening ceremony of horse-drawn carriages leading brass bands which, at the end of the week, play in concert. The folklore parade stretches seven kilometres with around eight thousand marchers taking part not just Germans but neighbours from Italy, Croatia and Poland taking part.
Special beer is brewed for the occasion. It is slightly darker and stronger in both taste and alcohol and served in one litre glass mugs. As many as 750,000 kegs are tapped during the 16 days!
Only six breweries are permitted to serve beer at Oktoberfest Löwenbräu, Spaten, Augustiner, Hofbräu, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. Beer accompanies typical hearty German food such as sausage, chicken, sauerkraut and ox tail.
Entry to the tents which hold thousands of drinkers is free. Tents are over 50 metres long and two storeys high with massive steel and wooden frames. Tables and benches are set out in rows and it is possible to reserve them months in advance.
Beer is sold only to those who are seated, and trouble-makers are soon evicted. Theft of beer mugs is strictly forbidden and well-policed. They may be purchased, but hang on to the receipt for proof-of-purchase.
Munich in Germany's Bavarian area
Oktoberfest will run from September 16 to October 3, 2006. Entry to tents is free.
Flight Centre has return airfares to Munich, valid for sale until February 24, 2006, for travel until November 11, 2005, and between January 17 and February 24, 2006. Taxes are included and conditions apply.
To book call Flight Centre on 131 600
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
The Oktoberfest website