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Way down in Bavaria

FLYING HIGH: Ferris wheels and carousels keep spirits up.

FLYING HIGH: Ferris wheels and carousels keep spirits up.  

It started with a wedding. And now, more than two centuries later, the festivities continue.

Phew! It’s been a tiring kind of holiday. I was in Munich, Bavaria, Germany to attend the Oktoberfest. And boy! what a party it was. Well, not exactly a party — more like a folk festival and almost two weeks long. And, you know what, there were more than six million people from all over the world attending.

Party on

In Munich, the festival is called Wiesn, after the fairgrounds — Theresienwiese or Theresa’s Meadows. This is an open space and is the official ground of the festival. The history of the festival goes back to almost two centuries.

On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen were married. That evening, the people of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held in the fields to celebrate the royal event. The celebrations continued for five days.

At the Oktoberfest, I was witness to a memorable horse race that can trace its history back to the 15th century. In 1448, it played host to the “Scharlachrennen” (Scarlet Race), held in front of the Karlstor (Munich's famed city wall). It was stopped in 1786.

According to legend, it was revived thanks to Franz Baumgartner, a coachman and Sergeant in the National Guard.

The king liked the idea and the races were included as a part of the celebration. Before the races, there was a performance by 16 pairs of children dressed in Wittelsbach costumes.

The original horse race had 30 horses on a 3,400m long racetrack. There were almost 40,000 spectators, and Baumgartner’s horse came in first and was awarded a gold medal by minister Maximilian Josef, Count von Montgelas. The race finished off with a song by a student choir.

Impressed by the great success of the festivities, King Max I Joseph requested the fairground be named “Theresens Wiese” (Therese’s meadow) after the bride.

During the Oktoberfest, there are orchestras playing quiet brass music or traditional folk music. But once the sun sets, it is time to bring out the electric music, pop, rap and more.

Today, visitors enjoy numerous attractions, like amusement rides, sidestalls and games. Food is also a major part of the festival. I think I’ve gained a few pounds. It’s not helping my flying.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 1:53:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/way-down-in-bavaria/article29699331.ece

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