One of the distinctive features of Die Oide Wiesn is the emphasis on traditional brass music. Local bands and musicians entertain the crowds with lively performances of traditional Bavarian folk music. The lively tunes create an enchanting atmosphere that complements the overall celebration. Another notable aspect is the presence of historic rides. Die Oide Wiesn features vintage carnival rides and attractions, evoking a sense of nostalgia and allowing visitors to experience the amusement options of the past. These traditional rides provide a stark contrast to the modern and thrilling rides found at the larger Oktoberfest.
Die Oide Wiesn is a tribute to the early years of Oktoberfest, recreating the spirit of the festival’s beginnings in 1810. It also promotes and celebrates traditional Bavarian clothing. Many visitors and locals alike choose to dress in traditional Bavarian attire, such as Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses, adding to the festive and authentic atmosphere of the event.
The festival typically takes place in parallel with the regular Oktoberfest, running for approximately 16 to 18 days, starting from late September to the first weekend of October. However, the festivities are not held once every every four years when the Central Agricultural Festival (Zentral-Landwirtschaftsfest or ZLF) is held in the southern part of the Theresienwiese. (See ZLF)
Origins of the Oide Wiesn
As the 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest approached in 2010, there was a strong desire to celebrate the historical significance of the festival in a special and elaborate manner. To mark this momentous occasion, the organizers decided to create a dedicated area called the “Historic Wiesn” or “Historical Oktoberfest,” situated in the southern part of the Theresienwiese, behind the Ferris wheel. The aim of the Historic Wiesn was to honor the origins and traditions of the Oktoberfest, offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience the festival as it was celebrated in its early days. The festivities in the Historic Wiesn were set up in addition to the regular Oktoberfest, which continued to take place on the rest of the Theresienwiese.
One of the central features of the Historic Wiesn was the daily horse races that framed the celebrations. These races were reminiscent of the horse races that were part of the original Oktoberfest in 1810, held to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. By incorporating horse races into the festivities, the organizers aimed to pay homage to the historical roots of the festival and recreate the atmosphere of the early Oktoberfest celebrations.
The concept of the Historic Wiesn and the celebration of the 200th anniversary was met with great enthusiasm and were immensely popular among visitors. The combination of the nostalgic carnival rides, traditional Bavarian music, historical beer tents, horse races, and various other attractions attracted both locals and tourists, making the celebration even more special. Due to the overwhelming success and positive reception of the Historic Wiesn during the 200th anniversary celebrations, the decision was made to make it a permanent fixture of the Oktoberfest under a modified name – “Oide Wiesn,” which translates to “Old Oktoberfest” or “Vintage Oktoberfest” in Bavarian dialect.
The Oide Wiesn continued to be held in subsequent years, running in parallel with the modern Oktoberfest festivities. It became a beloved tradition for both locals and international visitors, as it offered a more authentic and historical experience compared to the larger and more commercialized Oktoberfest held on the rest of the Theresienwiese.
Success of the Oide Wiesn
Success of the Oide Wiesn can indeed be attributed to its focus on preserving traditional elements and offering an alternative to the more modern and commercialized aspects of the main Oktoberfest event. Many visitors to the Oktoberfest may feel that certain traditional elements have been overshadowed by the excessive drinking and partying culture that has become associated with the festival in recent years. The Oide Wiesn provides a space where these traditional elements can be appreciated and enjoyed in a more authentic and nostalgic setting.
One of the main draws of the Oide Wiesn is its commitment to maintaining traditional Bavarian culture. The music played at the Oide Wiesn is often performed using traditional instruments, such as the accordion and the zither, giving visitors a taste of the original folk music that was once prominent at Oktoberfest. This stands in contrast to the more contemporary and amplified music heard at the larger Oktoberfest tents. Similarly, the beer at the Oide Wiesn is served from wooden barrels, hearkening back to the early days of Oktoberfest when beer was not mass-produced and served in plastic cups. This emphasis on serving beer in a more traditional manner adds to the authentic experience that visitors seek at the Old Oktoberfest.
Furthermore, the Oide Wiesn attracts a different crowd compared to the main Oktoberfest. The visitors to the Old Oktoberfest tend to be more interested in the traditional elements and cultural heritage of Bavaria, rather than simply seeking a wild party. This creates a more laid-back and family-friendly atmosphere, making it an appealing option for those who prefer a more relaxed and less raucous celebration.
However, the introduction of the Oide Wiesn and its traditionalist approach has not been without criticism. Some argue that the city of Munich, as the organizer of the Oktoberfest, has allowed the main festival to lose touch with its roots and cultural heritage. Instead, they argue that the city has embraced a more commercial and standardized approach to cater to a broader international audience. From this perspective, the Oide Wiesn might be seen as a response to the growing concerns that the traditional essence of Oktoberfest was being diluted. Critics may argue that the introduction of a separate and more traditional event is a sign that the main Oktoberfest has indeed lost its original character and that the city is attempting to recapture it through a separate “retro” festival.
However, it is essential to recognize that the introduction of the Oide Wiesn has also been met with enthusiasm from many locals and visitors alike who appreciate the opportunity to experience a more authentic and traditional Oktoberfest celebration. The success of the Oide Wiesn highlights the ongoing importance of preserving cultural heritage and ensuring that traditional elements are not lost amidst the evolving dynamics of large-scale festivals.
Featured Oide Wiesn Attractions
The festival grounds host three spacious tents, namely Festzelt Tradition, Herzkasperlzelt, and Schützenlisl®, each featuring a rich program of traditional customs. Additionally, visitors can explore the museum tent to delve into the festival’s history. For those enamored with vintage amusement rides, Oide Wiesn offers a delightful nostalgia trip. Among the attractions are the “Kettenflieger Kalb” from 1919, the strength-testing “Dicke Berta,” and the exhilarating “Fahrt ins Paradies” (Ride to Paradise), as well as the beloved 50s classic “Calypso,” all evoking cherished memories of past Volksfests. Completing the experience are timeless favorites like the ship swing and children’s carousel, along with historic throwing and shooting booths, all available at family-friendly prices. What’s more, each ride can be enjoyed for a mere euro.
Marquee Tradition / Festzelt Tradition
The Festzelt Tradition is undoubtedly one of the main attractions at Die Oide Wiesn, drawing in a diverse crowd of locals and tourists alike who seek an authentic and immersive Bavarian beer tent experience. The design and construction of the Festzelt Tradition pay homage to the traditional architecture of Bavarian beer tents from the past. Wooden beams, exposed timber frames, and rustic decor give the tent an old-world charm, transporting visitors back in time to the early days of Oktoberfest. The attention to detail in recreating the historical aesthetics adds to the authenticity of the experience.
With a seating capacity of 5000 seats inside and an additional 3040 seats in the beer garden, the Festzelt Tradition can accommodate a large number of guests. This ensures that more people can enjoy the festivities and creates a vibrant and lively atmosphere as visitors gather together to celebrate in the spirit of community and camaraderie and enjoy some of the best traditional Bavarian music and dance performances during Die Oide Wiesn. Talented local bands and musicians take to the stage, filling the air with the sounds of accordions, tubas, and brass instruments. Visitors are encouraged to hit the dance floor, where they can participate in lively folk dances like the Schuhplattler and other traditional Bavarian dance forms. This emphasis on dancing on the dance floor fosters a more dynamic and energetic atmosphere, making the experience all the more enjoyable and engaging.
No beer tent experience would be complete without the delicious Bavarian cuisine. The Festzelt Tradition offers a delectable array of traditional Bavarian dishes, such as crispy roasted chicken (Hendl), succulent pork knuckles, mouthwatering sausages, hearty pretzels, and a variety of side dishes. Paired with the festival’s signature beer, this culinary experience adds to the overall authenticity and enjoyment of the Bavarian beer tent tradition.
One of the most charming aspects of the Festzelt Tradition is the sight of visitors wearing traditional Bavarian attire. Men clad in Lederhosen and women wearing Dirndl dresses contribute to the festive and nostalgic ambiance. Many visitors choose to embrace the dress code, further immersing themselves in the spirit of the event. Visitors from different backgrounds come together to celebrate Bavarian culture, fostering a sense of unity and celebration. It’s common to see strangers strike up conversations, toast with each other, and join in the traditional dances, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Die Oide Wiesn, including the Festzelt Tradition, is known for being more family-friendly compared to the modern Oktoberfest. While visitors can still enjoy the lively beer tent atmosphere, there are designated areas for families and children to have a fun and safe experience. This inclusivity encourages people of all ages to participate in the festivities and enjoy the cultural richness of the event.
Herzkasperl Marquee / Herzkasperl-Festzel
The Herzkasperl-Festzelt is a popular and iconic beer tent located in the Die Oide Wiesn known for its unique and nostalgic atmosphere, traditional Bavarian charm, and its significant role in preserving the heritage of the early Oktoberfest celebrations.
The Herzkasperl-Festzelt was introduced to the Oide Wiesn in 2010 when Munich celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest. The name “Herzkasperl” refers to a character from Bavarian puppet theater, a humorous figure who often suffers from heart problems due to love-related issues. This quirky and endearing character became the namesake and symbol of the beer tent, adding a touch of Bavarian folk culture to the festivities.
The Herzkasperl stands out among the numerous beer tents at the Oktoberfest due to its distinctive features and ambiance. The tent’s design is reminiscent of the historic beer tents from the early days of Oktoberfest. Its architecture exudes a sense of nostalgia and rustic charm, taking visitors back to a bygone era. The wooden interiors, decorated with intricate carvings and traditional motifs, create an authentic Bavarian atmosphere.
Inside the Herzkasperl, a capacity of 2, 844 visitors are treated to live Bavarian music performed by local bands. The musical repertoire typically includes traditional folk songs, polkas, and other lively tunes that inspire dancing and merriment. In addition to music, visitors can enjoy traditional Bavarian dance performances, including the Schuhplattler, a lively and rhythmic dance style unique to the Alpine region.
The Herzkasperl is known for its welcoming and friendly atmosphere. It attracts a diverse crowd, including locals and international visitors, who come together to celebrate Bavarian culture and the spirit of Oktoberfest. The sense of camaraderie and conviviality within the tent contributes to its popularity among festival-goers.
Like all beer tents at the Oktoberfest, the Herzkasperl offers a wide selection of traditional Bavarian dishes and, of course, Oktoberfest beer. Visitors can savor classic Bavarian delicacies such as roasted chicken (Hendl), pork knuckle (Schweinshaxe), sausages (Wurstl), and pretzels (Brezn). The beer served is typically from local Munich breweries, adhering to the strict Bavarian Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) to ensure high-quality and authentic brews.
For both locals and international visitors, the Herzkasperl evokes a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era. The traditional design, music, and overall ambiance create an authentic and genuine experience that harkens back to the early days of Oktoberfest. This nostalgia is a significant draw for those seeking an authentic and unfiltered Oktoberfest experience.
In 2022, the Oidn Wiesn saw a delightful change as the Volkssänger tent transitioned from the Zur Schönheitskönigen to the Schützenlisl (or “shooter’s wench”). The Schützenlisl embodies the essence of traditional Bavarian culture, donning a charming dirndl and singing enchanting Bavarian songs. This shift was embraced by many, as the Schützenlisl is regarded as a more authentic representation of Bavarian heritage, in contrast to the beauty queen.
Lorenz Stiftl, the owner of the charming “Zum Stiftl” tent, which stands proudly in front of the Löwenbräuzelt, took on the esteemed role of hosting the new Volkssängerzelt. With an impressive track record managing both the Wienerwald tent since 2002 and Zum Stiftl since 2008, Lorenz Stiftl had long aspired to become the landlord of the Volkssängerzelt. However, this aspiration was tangled in a legal battle over the trademark protection of the “Schützenlisl” brand, a name that had become synonymous with Bavarian tradition.
The legal dispute, which spanned a year, pitted landlord Stiftl against Dietrich Sailer of the Münchner-Kindl-Brauerei. Thankfully, a compromise was eventually reached, granting Stiftl the ability to trademark the Schützenlisl name, while the brewery secured the trademark for the associated image.
The iconic image in question depicts the waitress gracefully balancing on a beer barrel. Remarkably, this image is not merely a product of imagination but is based on a historical figure – the young Coletta Möritz. Her inspiring presence caught the attention of the painter Friedrich August von Kaulbach, who immortalized her in a painting in 1881. Although the artwork was considered revealing by the standards of that time, it quickly gained popularity, as did the name Schützenlisl, forever tying her to Bavarian folklore and celebration.
Despite the change in name and host, the visual aspects haven’t seen much alteration. The original tent was rented by Lorenz Stiftl from the same tent rental company, yet noticeable modifications are slowly being made. The Schützenlisl struggled to fill the considerable void left by Zur Schönheitskönigen in its inaugural year. But in its short existence, it is growing into the most atmospheric tent at Oktoberfest – a place filled with more singing than anywhere else.
As for beverages, Augustiner beer replaces Paulaner, served from a wooden barrel rather than in the previous “Schönheitkönigin” tent. The seating capacity totals 1384, while the wind-protected beer garden accommodates an additional 400 patrons. Here, visitors can find a traditional Bavarian organic cheese stand and the Stiftl bar
The menu features a selection of authentic Bavarian treats such as meatballs, pepper roasts, Leberkas, radi, obazda, gherkins, and pretzels. Those seeking warm dishes can choose from options like succulent roast pork, chicken, boiled beef, or ox fillet. A variety of vegetarian and vegan alternatives are available too, including organic Bavarian fare like roasted hazelnut potato dumplings served on a bed of tender root vegetables and accompanied by a forest meadow salad. You can round off your meal with a sweet dessert like Kaiserschmarrn or strudel. The menu takes pride in offering a range of fair trade products, organically sourced fish, and organic Bavarian cheese. It also includes organic baked goods and certified organic wines, ensuring there’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy.
The Museum Tent, or Museumszelt, at Die Oide Wiesn is a captivating attraction that allows visitors to delve into the rich history of the Oktoberfest. Operated by the “Historische Gesellschaft Bayerischer Schausteller e.V.” (Historical Society of Bavarian Showmen), this tent showcases a fascinating collection of exhibits from the “Münchner Schausteller-Stiftung” (Munich Showmen Foundation), which is housed in the Munich City Museum. The exhibits take visitors on a journey through time, highlighting various aspects of the Oktoberfest’s past and offering a unique glimpse into its evolution over the years.
Two featured exhibits are the Show Jumping Carousel from 1945. This carousel, also known as a merry-go-round, is a classic fairground ride that has been an integral part of the Oktoberfest for decades and the other a replica of the Velodrome, which is a circular track that was used for bicycle racing and other sporting events. (Both of these are described in their own sections below)
The unique Stork caravan holds a special place in the history of the Oktoberfest. Used as an office by the Oktoberfest press office for an extended period, it symbolizes the festival’s behind-the-scenes operations and the efforts put into organizing and promoting the event over the years. Among the intriguing exhibits are a trailer from the 1950s, which was utilized by the Oktoberfest press office until 2003, and multiple organs and tractors. These artifacts offer a glimpse into the equipment and infrastructure that was once instrumental in the management and logistics of the festival. The Ochsenbraterei’s original Ox sandwich entrance is another notable exhibit. It holds cultural significance as it represents the traditional culinary offerings that have been an integral part of Oktoberfest’s gastronomic experience for centuries.
What sets the Museumszelt apart is the opportunity for visitors to engage with some of the exhibits actively. For instance, a historic shooting gallery from 1905 offers a chance for guests to try their hand at traditional fairground shooting games. A substantial portion of the Museum Tent is dedicated to a beer garden-themed seating area. With a seating capacity of 531, this beer garden provides an ideal setting for visitors to relax, enjoy a refreshing drink of Spaten beer, and soak in the festive atmosphere. Adjacent to the Museumszelt, there is a bowling alley that pays homage to historic incarnations of similar setups previously established by Anton Gruber, the first showman of the Oktoberfest.
The Museumszelt is a treasure trove of historical artifacts and interactive exhibits that breathe life into the rich heritage of the Oktoberfest. It offers visitors a chance to step back in time, experiencing the authentic atmosphere of the festival’s earlier years while enjoying the modern comfort of a beer garden and other conveniences.
The Humorous Velodrome
The Humorous Velodrome, located inside the Museum Tent, is one of the oldest amusement rides and was built at the Wiesn from 1901 to 1962. In the Humorous Velodrome, visitors are treated to a delightful and entertaining experience that combines humor, history, and a touch of physical activity. The term “Velodrome” traditionally refers to an arena or stadium for track cycling, but in this context, it takes on a whimsical twist, offering a humorous take on the concept.
The Velodrome is a fun-filled and light-hearted section that adds a humorous touch to the otherwise historical and educational setting. It is an interactive attraction that invites visitors to participate in amusing and sometimes absurd cycling challenges, all in good fun.
The Velodrome features a series of unconventional and amusing cycling challenges that visitors can take part in. These challenges often involve riding creatively designed and whimsical bicycles that are not your typical two-wheelers.
One of the most popular challenges is the collection of wobbly bicycles. These bikes have irregularly shaped wheels or unusual configurations, making them challenging to ride in a straight line. As visitors attempt to pedal along, they find themselves swaying and giggling as they try to maintain balance. Another classic challenge is the reversed steering bike. The handlebars of this bike are designed in such a way that when you turn them left, the front wheel goes right, and vice versa. It creates hilarious situations where riders intend to go one way but end up heading in the opposite direction.
The tandem bicycle challenges are designed for cooperation and communication. Visitors can team up with a friend or a stranger and attempt to navigate a tandem bike through a simple obstacle course. It requires coordination and teamwork, but it also results in plenty of laughter as participants try to synchronize their movements. In addition to the main attractions, the Velodrome may feature other novelty bicycles, each with its own unique twist. These might include unusually tall or short bikes, backward pedaling bikes, and even multi-person bicycles that seat several riders at once.
The Humorous Velodrome embodies the playful and jovial spirit of Die Oide Wiesn. It offers a break from the traditional exhibits and allows visitors to let loose, enjoy a good laugh, and create lasting memories with friends and family. The aim is not to showcase serious cycling skills but to provide entertainment and light-hearted amusement for all ages. The Velodrome is inclusive and welcoming to all, regardless of age or cycling experience. It encourages everyone to participate, regardless of whether they are seasoned cyclists or first-time riders. The focus is on having fun and embracing the joy of the moment.
In 1928, Josef Ruprecht, a Munich entertainer and owner of Germany’s largest wooden roller coaster at the time, established what is now known as Motodrom near Berlin. In the 1930s, the dramatic steep wall toured all the significant German cities, likely under the monikers “Stee Wand” or “Death Wall”. Back then, transportation was a slow, labor-intensive task. With tractors pulling all the wagons at speeds hardly exceeding 25 km/h, they often had to load the entire operation onto a train to cover long distances. This was the only feasible way to transport the riders and their craft to cities such as Stettin, Danzig, Breslau, and even as far as Bohemia. This method of transport lasted until 1984.
Ownership transitioned from Ruprecht to Willhelm Kling of Mainz in the spring of 1935. Kling managed to keep the steep wall mostly untouched throughout the war years. In the 1950s, Werner Thies from Frankfurt am Main took the reins, operating the business under the title “Die Auto-Steilwand”. The wall earned celebrity status in the 1953 film “Die Todesarena”, featuring alongside Richard Häussler, Katharina Mayberg, and Friedl Hardt.
The precise date of the handover to Armin Schubert of Stuttgart remains unclear. However, we know that by 1959, Schubert was the owner, as this was the year when Hugo Dabbert began his experience with “Armin’s Motoren Banner”. Dabbert worked for Schubert for many years before he took over as the wall’s owner in 1984. Upon assuming ownership, Dabbert renamed it “Motodrom”, modernized the wall with a new parade, trucks, and high-speed cars, and introduced “The Motorellos” with a unique program. In 2012, he passed the “Motodrom” to Thomas Ottl and Donald Ganslmeier, who proudly continue the legacy of the steep wall riders. To honor the rich history of the steep wall riders and the business, they added the term “Original” to the name.
There are a wide range of vehicles that can be used for stunts and acrobatic for riding on the wall. From bicycles to Vespas, and even steam-powered motorcycles, any vehicle with the right modifications and handling capabilities can be employed for these daring performances.
Indian Scout 101: The Indian Scout 101 was chosen for its stability and reliability, particularly in the German market during the 1920s. It is admired for having a low center of gravity, which lies below the wheel hubs, and a short wheelbase. These features make the Indian Scout 101 a heavy but highly maneuverable machine for artists performing tricks and acrobatics on steep surfaces. Its robustness and handling characteristics make it a suitable choice for such daring acts.
Honda CB 200: The Honda CB 200 is described as a light and agile motorcycle, built with Japanese precision and robustness. It is a popular choice for the welcome ride and the overhaul race. To enhance its performance on the steep face, the motorcycle has been modified by removing the heavy chrome fenders and rear struts, replacing them with square tubes. These alterations likely contribute to improved maneuverability and stability during the performances.
BMW R51/2: The two BMW R51/2 motorcycles were likely chosen due to the passion of Hugo, possibly one of the artists involved. Although they are heavier vehicles, they present a challenge and are not easy to loop, even for experienced artists. Despite their difficulty, the BMW R51/2 adds variety to the performances and demonstrates the artists’ skill and ability to handle different types of vehicles on the steep face.
Formula Vee Racing Car: The Formula Vee racing car used in the performances is an original vehicle with a tubular space frame from Fuchs and a 1300 VW engine. For the steep face performances, the frame had to be shortened by approximately 20cm to ensure it did not interfere with the fairing at the front and the shift rod at the rear. The transmission is flanged to the rear of the engine, following the design typical of racing cars from that time. Additionally, two treads on the frame allow an artist to stand on the vehicle while riding it, adding an impressive element to the stunts.
The chosen vehicles for the steep face performances offer a mix of stability, maneuverability, and challenges, adding excitement and variety to the acts. From the Indian Scout 101’s stability and low center of gravity to the Honda CB 200’s agility and the unique characteristics of the BMW R51/2 and Formula Vee racing car, each vehicle brings something special to the performances. The use of such diverse and skill-demanding vehicles is a testament to the artists’ expertise and passion for pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of trick and acrobatic riding on a steep face.