A German Festival (Oktoberfest)

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Adam Navis and Liz Waid tell about the traditional German festival of Oktoberfest. This celebration of German culture has happened for over 200 years!

Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Voice 1

It is early October in Munich, Germany. The air is cool and fresh. The leaves on the trees are starting to change their colors. Bright orange and dark red trees fill the hills around the city.

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Millions of people are gathered in an open area. The open area is in the center of the city. There are musical performances. The people talk and laugh together. The children enjoy mechanical carnival rides. People wear traditional clothes. They sing and dance. Most importantly, they drink beer together. These people are enjoying Oktoberfest.

Voice 1

Today’s Spotlight is on the traditional Bavarian celebration of Oktoberfest.

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Oktoberfest is a traditional festival in Munich Germany. Munich is in the south of Germany in the area of Bavaria. This area is famous for its good-tasting beer. People enjoy this alcoholic drink around the world. Beer is made from simple elements: water, grain, yeast and hops. Yeast causes the mixture to change into alcohol. And hops give beer its particular taste.

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Bavarian beer is famous because of its history. There is evidence to show that this is the oldest beer-producing area in Europe. And many of the beer factories, or breweries, have a very long tradition of making beer. There are 640 breweries in this region!

A waiter serves beer at Oktoberfest
Image by motointermedia from Pixabay
Voice 2

Oktoberfest celebrates this tradition. It also celebrates the traditional culture of Bavaria. The festival begins at the end of September. It starts with a traditional ceremony. The leader of the city of Munich, the mayor, stands in one of the buildings. He holds a metal tube. And he stands in front of a large rounded wooden keg. This container holds the beer. The mayor hits the metal tube, to force it into the keg. The beer flows through the metal tube, and out of the keg. The mayor then shouts in German “It is tapped!” This act officially opens the festival. Oktoberfest continues for 17 or 18 days.

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At Oktoberfest, the festival only serves beer made in Munich. Taking part in Oktoberfest is a special honor for the breweries. The beers made for the festival also must have 2% more alcohol than normal beers. They are known as official Oktoberfest Beers.

Voice 2

The people of Munich have celebrated Oktoberfest for more than 200 years. So how did this festival begin? It began with a marriage! In 1810 Prince Ludwig married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Their marriage was very important to the citizens of Munich. They had a parade through the city to celebrate. They played music and danced in the streets. Then the people celebrated and drank beer late into the night. The people of Munich enjoyed this event very much. So the city decided that the festival should happen every year.

Kegs of Oktoberfest Beer
Kegs; Image by RitaE from Pixabay
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Each year, the city has added more events. They added a show for farm products. People brought their best crops and animals to the festival. Judges gave prizes for the biggest and best products.

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Then the city added horse races to the festival. People gambled money on the horses. People tried to guess which horse would win the race. If their horse won the race, the person won money. Then he could use this money to buy beer! These events became traditions at the festival. They happened every year.

Voice 1

Another important tradition of Oktoberfest is the traditional clothing from Bavaria. Both men and women may wear a Sennerhut. A sennerhut is a traditional hat. It is made with the wool from sheep. It often has a rope around the base. It has symbols from the person’s city or region. Many have flowers embroidered on them with bright cloth thread. Some people also put a small amount of goat hair on their hat. They place it under the rope. This goat hair is said to be good luck.

Voice 2

Men wear traditional “lederhosen.” Lederhosen are made from animal skin – leather. They are short trousers for men and boys. They connect to suspenders – thin pieces of leather worn over the shoulders. Across the man’s chest is also a piece of leather. The leather connects the suspenders. This leather piece has images of flowers and animals.

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Women wear traditional “dirndls.” Dirndls are special dresses. The dress has four parts. First, there is a white or light-colored shirt. On top of the shirt, a woman wears a bodice. This piece of colored cloth fits tightly to the woman’s chest. Traditional dirndls have a knee-length dress. The woman then ties an apron around her waist on top of the dress. It is meant to keep the clothes under it clean.

Voice 2

Traditional lederhosen and dirndls had special meaning. Each region had special cloth they used to make the clothing. Each city and area used special designs and colors. It was always clear what place the person was from.

Oktoberfest band and traditional clothing
Image by Hans Lohrmann from Pixabay
Voice 1

Some of the traditional Oktoberfest activities still happen today. Many people still wear the traditional clothes. And every three years, there is still a show of farm products. But there are no longer horse races. Entertainment is also different today. Loud, modern musical groups play rock music into the night. A modern, mechanical carnival replaced traditional games. Now large rides and games light up the night sky.

Voice 2

Since the 1960s, Oktoberfest has become very popular internationally. It started as a small celebration. The only people who participated lived in Munich. Now, Oktoberfest is the largest traditional festival in the world. People from all over the world travel to Munich to enjoy the festival. In 2010 there were over 6 million people at Oktoberfest! They drank over 7 million litres of beer!

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In 200 years, authorities have only cancelled Oktoberfest a total of 24 times. This has usually been because of war and disease. Most recently, authorities cancelled the festival during World Wars I and II.

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The tradition of Oktoberfest is still strong in Munich. It still celebrates the traditions and culture of Bavaria. And it will likely continue for many years in the future. Have you ever celebrated Oktoberfest? What traditional festivals do you celebrate where you live? Visit our website to tell us about them: www.radioenglish.net.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Johanna Poole. The producer was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “A German Festival.”

Voice 2

You can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook – just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Have you ever celebrated Oktoberfest? Have you heard of this celebration?

Some of the music in this program came from Podington Bear.

Join the discussion

  • There is a oktoberfest festival in Brazil too.
    It is celebrated every year in Blumenau, in the state of Santa Catarina.

  • I have ever to hear about the Oktoberfest and this event happens in Petrópolis (Rio de Janeiro) and Rio Grande do Sul. I would like to take part of this festival, because I like its tradicional clothes.

    • This is a fist time i know about Oktoberfest. I see it’s very fun. I hope i will have chance to participate in the future.

  • Have you ever celebrated Oktoberfest?
    No but I hope that.
    Have you heard of this celebration?
    really noI knew it from you today

    thank you

  • Good evening.
    Here in Brazil there is Oktoberst too. But I don’t know.
    Sorry I’m learning English whith Spotlight.

  • The city of Blumenau – SC – Brazil also has its Octoberfeast. The region is inhabited by a large number of German descendants and so they remember their traditions. But the most important traditional feast in Brazil is Carnival, however, many Brazilians do not like the changes, due to commercial interests, that Carnival has undergone nowadays.

  • I have never celebrated this nice celebration. Here in Ecuador, I have heard about Oktoberfest , by the television because it ihas been promoted only in the luxury five stars hotels . And this kind.of hotels are visited for people that have german roots or ancestors or members of the german embassy and high burocracy of the country. Normally is not intended for the labour or medium social class and much less for low poor social class . For that reason I have never gone at this private parties because of it is organized for rich people only. Thanks for inform us about the origin of this nice historical tradition in Germany. Greetings from Quito, Ecuador.

  • I celebrate many tradition al festivals in India.
    My favourite is Holi,the festival having history of devotion to the God. Here also same things happened like Octoberfes.Mordern thinking erased old rituals and systems. But still we see and enjoy the changeable world of the God.

  • It is the first time I have heard about Oktoberfest. I am very excited about it because I like drinking beers very much.

  • Oh, I love this party, in Brazil have too, I always go in Sao lourenço do sul, State Rio grande do Sul.

  • I hope i can take part in celebrated Oktoberfest, I really excited when i heard this celebration. In my country, there are many celebrations such as: Lim festival, Gio To Hung Vuong festival,… .

  • I have never celebrated on oktoberfast , Interesting celebrate, when go to visit munich sure I will go to this celebration

  • ‘They drank over 7 million litres of beer!’ this sentence enough to shows how this festival bad and humpful or we can say buying of beers and it’s not a festival in itself, and they using their ignorants to fill walets theirs !!

  • My name is Amal I’m from Jordan, this is first time hear about the Oktoberfest celebration in Germany in my country don’t have like this Idea, at Jordan there is Jerash Festival it’s one of the biggest cultural event in Jordan hold in July historical city of Jerash, Visitors will find music, dance, literature, food, handicrafts and general merriment among the festival goers.

  • No I haven’t
    I really enjoy with this program, Always I heard new something and that’s make me I want to try what I heard.

  • It is my first time hear about this festival, it seems amazing celebration, and I’m impressed with the traditional clothes. The thing that bad in my opinion; it’s the shocking consumption of alcohol. Thanks

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