Wies´n History



In 1806 Bavaria became kingdom and for years later the first wedding of a Prince regent took place. Crown Prince Ludwig - the later King Ludwig I - married Princess Therese von Saxonia-Hildberghausen on October 12th, 1810.

On this occasion the bankier von Dall'Armi asked for permission to arrange a horse race. The venue should be located on an area in front of Sendlinger Tor, next to the street, which was going to Italy. In order to honour the bride this place was called "Theresienwiese". And this is the reason why a native of Munich goes to the "Wies'n" instead of the "Oktoberfest". The horse race took place with the royal family watching. As it became great success, one decided to repeat it the following year. So the tradition of the Oktoberfest started. For a long time the horse races were the most important part of the event and they were organized until 1938.

Together with the Oktoberfest the first farming exhibition took place in 1811. Then small stands did already supply the visitors with beer and the first round about as well as two swings could be seen on the festival ground.

A quotation of 1823 said about the folling:" Several days before the event itself the town gets filled with foreigners, so that they can hardly be accamonodated in the local inns...On the Theresienwiese a wooden town is growing with lanes and galleries where all kind of good will be offered to the most strange sort of people for allmost three weeks.

In 1843 the racetrack was still the main part on the festival ground. Outside of it there was the building site of the Bavaria and places for four landlords of Munich. Within the racetrack there was the royal pavilion, the area for the farming exhibition, 24 stands for food and drink, the "Glückshafen" - a try-your-luck-stall, a roundabout and a showman's business for bolting.


In 1890 the festival ground was linked to the public water supply.

Electricity and Gas

After some of the landlords used own arc amps by means of dynamos, 16 arc lamps were installed on the municipal authorities' behalf. The electricity supply was done by a fixed steam engine. From 1890 the lightning was supplemented by gas-driven lamps. From 1901 the supply of electricity was managed by the local elecric power company. In 1955 the Oktoberfest was first illuminated by gas tubes.


The unveiling of the Bavaria took place in 1850. In 1864 there were 360 stands for food and drinks and other booths on the Theresienwiese.

In 1872 the Oktoberfest grew larger in size. Apart from the racetrack, the shooting gallery, the stands for food and drinks and the exhibition area for agriculture one could aready see 6 backeries for cakes, 20 sausage stands, 30 cheese stands as well as 4 roundabaouts. But the list is still incomplete. Besides the "flying stands" offering bread, fruit, sweets, toys, etc. more stands and bootles were joining in on the main street from the city. Anyway, the number of showmen increased rapidly in the 1870ies.


In 1880 there were 401 stands and bootles on the Oktoberfest. In the same year the royal police had their first office on the Theresienwiese. The reason were "Heavy excesses...as well as the expierience that this event was simply used for carousels by the working people."

More than 550 bootles and stands were counted in 1890. In cooperation with the breweries four huge beer tents were set up by the landlords from 1896 on. The monopoly of the Munich breweries on the Oktoberfest still continues to exist - even today.

1910 was the 100th anniversary of the Oktoberfest. On this occasion a procession was held again as it had already happened at the silver wedding of Ludwig I in 1835. This Oktoberfest has been the most greatly and decorated event of its kind ever! Apart from those which had always been part of it there were also events and performances telling the history of the Oktoberfest.

At the beginning of the 20th century postcards started to be great fashion. The officialy engaged firm Ottmar Zieher alone published 120 different subjects. The last Oktoberfest with the Prince Regent Ludwig took place in 1913. The royalist and national character of the event became evident for the last time. From 1810 to 1913 the Oktoberfest was deeply influenced by the house of Wittelsbach.

In 1930 today's structure of the festival around was realized and hardly anything has been changed afterwards, as the facilities for the water and gas supplies, etc. made changes almost impossible. Through the years the original semicircular order of the tents and booths was substituted by a parallel order along the street in the 20th century. From 1930 on the street was widened. Today there are 5 km of asphalt road on the Theresienwiese.

A procession was arranged as the 125th anniverseray of the Oktoberfest was celebrated in 1935. Five riding-days were organized together with 15 races and SS-riding games. The Nazi administration of Munich arranged parades, exhibitions and events due to the slogan "Proud Town - Merry Country", by using the Oktoberfest for their political purposes. The Nazi had been considering different places how to rearrange the festival ground. In 1934 they planned to demolish the "Ruhmeshalle" behind the Bavaria. Instead there should be built an area for events, etc. Special streets for parades and processions would have crossed the Oktoberfest ground. In 1935 the Nazi even suggested to demolish the Bavaria as well. Instead they planned to construct a huge conference hall with a memorial for national heroes. According to plans of 1938 the Bavaria and the "Ruhmeshalle" should stay but be surrounded by monumental buildings. One does not know in which way the Nazi wanted to keep the Oktoberfest.

The first Oktoberfest after World War II took place in 1949 and the procession of riflemen and of groups dressed in traditional costumes became a main post of the event, with german and foreign groups participating. In 1951 the festival ground had a size of 25 hectares and 743 permissions had been granted. Due to the economical option there have been new records on the Oktoberfest almost every year, such as the constantly increasing number of visitors and larger profits in drinks and food.

On September 26th, 1980 a bomb exploded at the main entrance of the Oktoberfest. 12 people died and 215 persons were injured. The crime presumed to be commited by a single right-wing-extremist.

This year it is the 168th Oktoberfest. It has been canceled for 24 times due to cholera, war or inflation.

Enjoy yourself on the Oktoberfest!



If you have further interesting details on the history of the Oktoberfest then contact kontakt@muenchnerboheme.de

Poster: Wolfgang Heinrich Haas


Als Text und Bildquelle dienten uns:"München das waren die Fünfziger" Heinz Gebhardt, Verlag Münchner Stadtmuseum; "Wirtshäuser in München um 1900" Pasinger Fabrik, Buchendorf Verlag; "Prinzregentenzeit" Richard Bauer, Verlag C.H. Beck; "Heute Hinrichtung" Dering/Gröner/Wenger, Verlag Münchner Stadtmuseum; "München Bier Oktoberfest" Hanns Glöckle, Verlag Bayerland; "Das Oktoberfest" Verlag Münchner Stadtmuseum
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Wies´n Galerie 2005 Wies'n Galerie 2004