Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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Revellers try to snatch free beer at the Hofbraeu tent on the opening day of the 2015 Oktoberfest on 19 September. Photo: Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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Revellers raise their steins of beer for a toast at the Hofbraeu tent on the opening day of the world's largest beer fest. Photo: Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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The view from the giant ferry wheel at the fair ground. Photo: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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Participants dressed in Bavarian folk outfits march in the Parade of Costumes and Riflemen (Trachten- und Schuetzenzug) on Day 2. Photo: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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The illuminated big wheel create a kaleidoscope of colours for the drunken eye. Photo: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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You have to take selfies when you dress in Bavarian folk outfits, right? Photo: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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The golden liquid runs free and easy at the Hofbraeuhaus beer tent. Photo: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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A waitress carries steins of beer at the Hofbraeu tent in Munich. Photo: Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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Beer and food have been fast friends forever. Photo: Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world

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The illuminated tents and caroussels on 19 September. Photo: Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

BEER HEAVEN

Hello Oktoberfest: Munich just kicked off the world's biggest party

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

Two weeks, hundreds of thousands of people - and more beer than you've ever seen in one place.

If that sounds like your idea of heaven, there's only one place to be this September: Munich.

It's also a lesson in how multi-layered Germany can be: the famed German efficiency is evident in the logistics of the event, but equally evident is an irreverent, carefree Germany. Make no mistake, this is a funfair on epic scales.

Here's evidence: since the start of the 2015 edition on 19 September, over one million litres of beer has already been sold. By the time the last keg is opened on closing day, 4 October, the figures will be even more jaw-dropping.

And yet, this is not just a beer festival.

The original Oktoberfest - in October 1810 - was held in honour of the wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

For five full days, the burghers of Munich were invited to eat, drink and enjoy parades involving music, dance, shooting displays and a horse race around a meadow on the edge of town.

Such a good time was had by all that the Germans decided this needed to stage the race - and, naturally, the accompanying revelry, every year.

The Germans clearly take this commitment seriously: this year marks the 182nd edition.

The main Oktoberfest is held on the original meadow named, in honour of Ludwig's bride, the Theresienwiese (but casually referred to as the Wiesn).

But while it's a lot about the beer, no ordinary beer will do: all the beer served comes from Munich breweries, including legendary names such as Augustiner, Paulaner and Spaten.

The most popular brew is the lager-like Helles. And there are no half-measures: beer is served in one-litre glasses served by the now famous buxom barmaids. Prices, depending on the variety, can go up to €10.40 (Rs 766) per litre.

It's funfair in more than just name: dotting the grounds are huge, elaborately-festooned tents (about 14), most being hosted by a different Munich brewer. While a few serve multiple beers, most tents only serve the beer of the corresponding brand.

Atmosphere comes, equally, by the tradition of wearing the traditional Bavarian outfit: a 'dirndl' for women and 'lederhosen' for men. Not mandatory, obviously, and yet you'll find few locals who don't bring out the costumes.

And then there's the rides. This year's edition offers some spectacular rides including the 'Hollenblitz' (Lightning from Hell), the 'Sky Fall', the 'Teufelsrad' (Devil's Wheel) and the 'Krinoline' (an old-fashioned merry-go-round).

Arranged over four levels, the new 'Daemonium', meanwhile, is for those who want a little terror to build up their appetite; the haunted house has already proved incredibly popular.

The tents all play traditional Bavarian music - and the accompanying thigh-slapping, while voluntary, is almost de rigueur. Traditional folk dances also take place in some tents. There's dancing, stumbling, raunchy make-outs, sometimes even drunken brawls.

There is, in short, everything you'd expect from one of the world's most epic parties, and then a few surprises thrown in.

Priyata Brajabasi

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB