Oktoberfest 2019: when is it, why it's celebrated and the biggest events around Scotland

Barmaids with arms full of foam-topped steins. Men in lederhosen belting out songs. Brass bands playing in the background and bratwurst sizzling away on top of grill.

Traditional German dress and beer by arm-load is in order at Oktoberfest. Picture: Edinburgh Oktoberfest.
Traditional German dress and beer by arm-load is in order at Oktoberfest. Picture: Edinburgh Oktoberfest.

It can only be Oktoberfest.

The celebration of Bavarian culture has become a global phenomenon, with party-goers across the world flocking to their local beer tents to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Germany.

Scotland is no exception, and the festival has become more popular across the nation year after year.

Glasgow has already said its final "prost!" for 2019 but there's plenty of drinking left to do elsewhere. Picture: Glasgow Oktoberfest.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Oktoberfest 2019.

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What is Oktoberfest?

In the October of 1810, a huge festival was arranged in Munich to celebrate the marriage of Bavaria's King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. There was horse-racing, music and all kinds of festivities, all in honour of the newlyweds.

Celebrated each year around the anniversary of the wedding, the modern Oktoberfest is one of the biggest events on the German cultural calendar, as well as being the most high-profile beer festival to be found anywhere in the world.

Where is it celebrated?

Beer, music and hearty home-cooking – Oktoberfest is a pitch you could sell just about anywhere in the world. Unsurprisingly then, the festival has now spread across the globe, with large-scale celebrations taking place all over the place each year.

Come October, people can be found raising steins and yelling "prost" everywhere from Moscow' Red Square to Hong Kong, Hanoi, Zambia and Chile. True to form, Australia's Oktoberfest celebrations have been known to get so wild that its universities banned them back in 2012.

The largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany, taking place in Ontario, averages around 700,000 visitors each year, while Blumenau in Brazil isn't far behind.

When is this year's festival?

The festival lasts a little over two weeks between and usually takes place some time between the end of September and the start of October.

This year's official Oktoberfest will run from Saturday 21 September to Sunday 6 October. While Oktoberfests elsewhere tend to stick roughly to the Munich festival's schedule, there is some variety in their exact dates.

What happens at the festival?

Without trying to imply that Oktoberfest is all about the beer, in 2013 it was estimated the festival-goers consumed some 7 million litres of the frothy stuff, which is about three Olympic swimming pools-worth. That was just in Munich.

To soak up all that beer, the festivals tents are usually filled with the aromas of traditional Bavarian cooking. Schnitzel, sauerkraut and all manner of robust German cuisine is served up, with some international festivals using local foodstuffs to create some fascinating fusions.

The spirit of Oktoberfest is far livelier than your usual beer festival though - with music ranging from traditional Oompah bands to contemporary tunes, the festival really gets going once the drinks are flowing and the volume is up.

What is happening in Scotland?

There's lots going on in the nation's capital, with Edinburgh's official Oktoberfest celebration will take place between Wednesday 30 October and Sunday 3 November at Princess Square Gardens. It will feature live music from a number of South German bands playing traditional "Schlager" tunes, as well as the usual array of pretzels, German meats and, of course, great quantities of Bavarian beer.

For those whose German hankerings are just too strong to wait that long, the Pitt in Lieth is offering its own take on the festival earlier in the month. Taking place this weekend and over the weekends of 28-29 September and 5-6 October, the event will feature beer from six different Munich breweries and a great selection of street food to pair it with.

And lets not forget Dog-toberfest, taking place between Sunday 13 and Sunday 22 October over at Market Street's Brewhemia. This canine-friendly take on the festival boasts all the usual attractions, as well as a beer for dogs.

As a major student town, Dundee will of course also be getting in on the action. They're keeding things short and sweet, with the Dundee Oktoberfest running from Thursday 28 September through Saturday 28 September. Their eclectic celebration will feature a diverse range of musical acts including Europe's no.1 Queen tribute act and 80s icons Heaven 17.

Displaying a level of efficiency which would make the German's themselves green with envy, Glasgow have already got their own Oktoberfest done and dusted, having ran from 12 September to 14 September. The Queen's Park event featured a Bavarian beer brewed just for Glasgow,