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14/10/2017

ON THIS DAY 1810… THE FIRST OKTOBERFEST

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In 1810, with Europe enjoying a momentary respite in the Revolutionary Napoleonic Wars that had raged across the continent for over a decade, King Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria invited his subjects to celebrate the marriage of his son, Ludwig, to Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

The festivities took place in the fields outside the city gates, which quickly became known as the Theresienwiese (‘Therese’s Meadow’) in honour of the new Crown Princess. Today the Oktoberfest takes place in the same area (though no longer fields) and the name is usually shortened to just the Wiesn.

Many of the traditions of that first Oktoberfest remain, at least in essence, but as is the way with all things the fair has changed and evolved over time as it grew into an ever-larger public festival.

The first celebrations included horse racing that was watched by 40,000 people from the gentle slopes of the Theresienhohe that overlooked the meadow. The horse races continued until 1960.

The inaugural event was such a success that it was repeated in 1811 (with an added show to celebrate Bavarian agriculture) and 1812 but was cancelled in 1813 when Bavaria turned against Napoleon and war menaced its borders.

It was only in 1819 that the decision was taken to hold the fair annually and so it has continued with the odd break caused by cholera epidemics in 1854 and 1873 as well as war with Austria in 1866 and France in 1870-71, both World Wars and the years of hyper-inflation from 1923-24. [...]

Read more | thedrinksbusiness.com

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