Seoul’s annual German beer party returnsThe Millennium Seoul Hilton is having its annual beer party at its Convention Center to celebrate Germany’s Oktoberfest, the largest beer festival in the world, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7 p.m.
This will be the seventh year for the Hilton Oktoberfest, one of innumerable Oktoberfests held around the world every fall to join in the fun with Germany. The original festival ― this year’s is the 171st ― will be held from Sept. 18 until Oct. 3 in Munich.
Oktoberfest dates back to October 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony. The citizens of Munich were all invited to celebrate the royal event. A cavalry staged a horse race in a large grass field and the citizens expressed their loyalty by building a marquee for the king. The festival was repeated by the citizenry the following year, and eventually became Oktoberfest.
The festival has been held since then in the same 42-hectare (104-acre) field, known as Theresienwiese (“Theresian’s fields”) after the Princess’ name.
Annually, Oktoberfest draws about 6 million people, who drink about 5 million liters of beer and eat hundreds of thousands of pork sausages.
Visitors can see wagons carrying beer barrels from sponsoring beer companies. Townspeople wear their own traditional outfits to welcome visitors from around the world.
The 16-day party begins when the mayor of Munich makes the first toast ― saying “O’zapfy is!” or “The draft is open!” ―at noon on the third Saturday in September. It lasts until the first Sunday of October.
In Seoul’s version of the festival, the hotel will prepare a buffet of German food. Participants can help themselves to unlimted beer, wine, soft drinks and so forth. A German band called Muenchner Zwietracht, which hails from Munich, will perform, and there will be dancing. There will be arm wrestling, speed beer drinking and other diversions.
Last year, more than 3,000 people attended the festival over two nights.
“I can clearly tell you that it was a great chance for Korean people to experience traditional German culture in a relaxed setting,” said the Hilton Oktoberfest’s master of ceremonies for the past two years, Australian Mark Shears, 37. He will be host of the festivities again this year.
Besides the food, drink and games, there will be a raffle, with prizes including round-trip flights to Germany (and hence a chance to participate in the real Oktoberfest).
Including tax and service charge, ticket price is 79,000 won ($68) per person. To make a reservation or to get more information, go to www.hiltonoktoberfest.com or call (02) 317-3066.
by Park Jun-suk