Oktoberfest: Preview

Looking at photos from past Oktoberfest’s is enticing; friends clinking massive beer glasses and dancing in traditional Bavarian attire seems like an uproarious amount of fun. To the uninformed, the event is based on the world’s largest 16-day festival held in Munich every year, ending the first weekend of October. What started in 1810 as a wedding celebration for King Ludwig I is now a time of copious beer consumption for over 6 million people from around the world. The St Andrews Oktoberfest is not quite as large, but does host 1,000 people, including international attendees, at Kinkell Byre. Originating in 2006 with only 300 people, the event has quickly established its notoriously fun reputation.

But what is the real deal with Oktoberfest? The £40 tickets seem scarce, and rumors flew around at FS that a coveted table had been auctioned off for a whopping £2000. So on a sunny St Andrews morning I sat down for a coffee and a chat with committee members Marie-Christine Schoenborn, Immanuel Jebsen, and Stella Schmadl, who told me what to expect from this highly anticipated event.

With a full year to plan, the Bavarian style fete has historically done a phenomenal job of raising money for Tayside Children with Cancer and Leukaemia, based in Dundee. Over four years the St Andrews Charity Oktoberfest crew has donated more than £70,000, last year alone contributing £21,000. The committee has their planning down to a science, with a tried-and-true formula that, clearly, is always perennial success. Immanuel Jebsen says, “people know what to expect”, implying very positive opinions. Could this have something to do with cheap Paulaner beer, £5 for a litre? Paulaner kindly sponsors the event, and in case you were wondering, it’s the same great brew sold at Oktoberfest in Munich. Jägermeister, The Scores Hotel and St Andrews Shuttle are also kindly contributing to the festivities. Some perks this year will include a band coming from Bavaria and the German baker, Falko’s, from Edinburgh.

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As one of St Andrews’ few international events, it seems many friends will take the opportunity to visit next weekend, with over 300 tickets sold to those from outside of the Bubble. Everyone will be looking impressive in their dirndls and lederhosen, which is the traditional attire often worn for parties in Germany. Stella explained that while most people try to wear the real deal, EBay finds and costume versions do make an appearance. Either way, the attendees are an attractive crowd.

Before the last drop of coffee, I asked the committee for the game plan. They all agreed: don’t arrive drunk, make sure to eat, and hope for good weather! Immanuel pointed out that the idea is for a cosy atmosphere. While things will definitely get merry, Oktoberfest is far from a rave. The anticipation of dancing with litres of beer, adorned in ginger heart necklaces and wearing dirndls and lederhosen can hardly be contained.

The event will take place at Kinkell Byre from 2pm – 10pm on Saturday March 8.

Photos courtesy of Oktoberfest Facebook page

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