Tag Archives: festival

Wiesn – Oktoberfest 2010

Wiesn, which is what Münchners call Oktoberfest, officially started this weekend. It’s the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest this year. Well, technically, this is only the 177th time Oktoberfest has taken place, but as a tradition is started 200 years ago.

Also notable is that for the first time, smoking has been banned from the Oktoberfest tents. Bavarians voted on this law a few months ago, making it the strictest anti-smoking regulation in Germany (there are more aspects to the law, but the most publicity I’ve seen has been in relation to Oktoberfest, probably to let visitors know about the Rauchverbot – no smoking).

Why is Oktoberfest called Wiesn? Wiesn is a Bavarian word for “field” because the first Oktoberfest in 1810 was held in the Theresienwiesen – Theresa field – as part of the wedding festivities for Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Theresa.

One of my friends asked me this about Oktoberfest:
“Do many people were traditional costumes?”

Absolutely – but here in Bavaria, especially where we live, it’s not at all unusual to see the locals wearing their traditional Bavarian clothing (Dirndls for the women, Lederhosen for the men) during the year. Of course, people who work at the festival tend to dress up in their traditional clothing, and many people who visit the festival do, as well. Before the festival gets underway, many of the shops and department stores in Munich offer Trachten (the costumes) and have displays in their storefront windows.

Here’s a fun factoid about Dirndls:
Buas (boys), if you’re looking for a Madl (girl) at Oktoberfest, pay attention to how a lady has tied the bow on her apron. If the bow is tied on the left, then she is available (“Schleife links, Glück bringt’s! ” – Bow on the left brings you good luck!). To the right, then sorry, she is taken (likely married). In the middle means the Madl you have your eye on is perhaps unsure of her status.

If you’re looking for tips on finding the perfect Dirndl for celebrating Oktoberfest, this article has some good suggestions such as: choose cotton because you can just throw it in the wash, don’t have a floor-length Dirndl because it will get dirty and anyway, the Kerls (guys) appreciate a bit of leg. 😉

For those of you who are German speakers, you can learn some Baierisch (Bavarian) words you might hear at the Oktoberfest in this little online Oktoberfest Lexicon. Or if you prefer, check out what the Wiesn Horoscope has in store for you!

For German news about Oktoberfest, you can read articles online here:

Because baby Budlet is due to arrive any day now, we won’t be going to the festival this year, but how fun that we will have an Oktoberfest baby!


Gartenfest, Obersteinbach

Germans and Bavarians in particular, really know how to live. I’m convinced that the Biergarten is one of life’s finest pleasures. I read an article one time describing the Biergarten as the outdoor living room of Germany, a description which I very much like. We’ve visited several Biergartens up in Munich and around our area; we have our favorites, but the one that I think I like the best happens just once a year in the tiny town of Obersteinbach.

It’s an adorable neighboring village; we have some friends who live there. The Gartenfest in Obersteinbach is, I believe, a fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department. Everyone in the town gets involved in setting up the temporary Biergarten: the women tend to bake the cakes and serve the Biergarten tables; the men tend to work at the beverage and grilling stations. There’s live music (Bavarian, of course) performed by some of the locals and different groups of kids and adults perform dances. In particular, a group of men typically present the Goaßlschnalzen, or whipcracking in English, which I would describe as rhythmic whipping to music. It’s unique to Bavaria and Austria and apparently it’s significant in Bad Tölz during the well-known Leonhardifahrt. The first time I heard the Goaßlschnalzen, I was so impressed by the intricacies of the rhythms (and I still am!). I imagine it must take a lot of practice for a group to do it well.

Also at the Gartenfest, there’s always a special area for kids with crafts, art supplies and some games. Many of the people who attend the festival dress up in their Bavarian clothing (Dirndls for the women, Lederhosen for the men) and of course, all the families who work at the festival are dressed for the occasion.

This year we went for afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) although we could have stayed for dinner as well. There were all sorts of delicious food items one could order, from Bratwurst and rolls, to potato salad, to grilled meats and Obazda (a cheese spread made from camembert and usually flavored with paprika). I had a piece of Schmandkuchen, which is a cake made from a yeast dough, usually with fruit and then a layer of cream or pudding. Of course, we dressed Rosebud in her Dirndl and she looked adorable. I don’t have a Dirndl yet, but plan on buying myself one after Budlet arrives in the world.

Mama and Rosebud at the Gartenfest, Obersteinbach


Daddy and Rosebud, Gartenfest, Obersteinbach

What I like best about the Gartenfest in Obersteinbach is that it’s such a friendly atmosphere and we’re always sure to run in to friends when we go. It also showcases the best of Bavaria: friendly people who are proud of their local heritage and traditions, but without being touristy at all. It’s all about the local town, friendship and best of all, the joys of being in that outdoor living room, the Biergarten!

The Cheese Festival (Käsefestival) in Bad Tölz

I have been remiss in updating our blog but I will try to get caught up. We have certainly been busy this summer, despite the fact that much of the summer weather has been cool and rainy.

In early June, the nearby town of Bad Tölz held a cheese festival – the official website is here. This was the second year that the event was held, and we were duly impressed. In addition to featuring cheese from our region, the Tölzerland, and from nearby Allgäu, there were cheeses from other regions in Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy. One of the stands we visited featured French cheeses from the Pyrénées, a French region I know little about. I enjoyed speaking with the two people at the booth in French. I am not sure they actually spoke much German! They had several cheese varieties I could eat (made with pasteurized milk, as I’m avoiding unpasteurized cheese for now). David tasted the unpasteurized milk varieties, and he said they were excellent.

In addition to the sheer number of local and international cheeses we could sample, there were chocolates that had fillings made with cheese, some fresh-baked breads, a Bratwurst stand, local beer from Kloster Ettal and best of all, several wine stands with suggested cheese pairings. I am really looking forward to attending the festival next year so that I can try some of the wines along with the cheeses. Many of the featured wines were varieties that come from Franken (Franconia), such as Silvaner, and some others from Austria which are not commonly found in the United States, such as Grüner Veltliner, a favorite of mine.

As for the cheeses, there were so many different varieties I could not even begin to talk about them all. Of course, we happily sampled the Emmentaler cheese from the Allgäu, which is basically what we think of as Swiss cheese in the United States (but oh, so much tastier!). I got to have some of my beloved French Comté, which I think is still the cheese I love the most. I especially enjoyed the cheeses made in Tölz, particularly the goat cheeses. One thing I’d like to do in the coming year is learn more about the cheeses that are made in our region and the Allgäu. The cheese festival in Tölz was sort of a starting point for me in this journey, and since I could only taste some of the cheeses, I am eager to discover more.

Käsefestival, Bad Tölz

David sampling a wine at the cheese festival

As parents of a toddler, we especially appreciated all the kid-friendly activities. Rosebud was especially excited by the goats:

Goats attached to a small wooden cart for goat rides

Mama and Rosebud petting a goat

Rosebud was even more excited by the calf, who she got to pet and feed:

petting a calf

feeding straw to the calf

The festival also featured a number of different events, including guided wine and cheese tastings, music and a cheese walk. There was even a cooking duel between some of the local mayors (Iron Chef Bad Tölz?) We were really impressed by the festival itself and enjoyed the relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It was sehr gemütlich. Bad Tölz is my favorite town in Upper Bavaria, and the cheese festival is just one of the reasons why.