When someone mentions Oktoberfest, Germany's most famous festival, most people think of one thing—lots and lots of beer. However, this festival has a long and rich history that is rooted in Bavarian tradition. Beer is an element of today's Oktoberfest, but for the citizens of Munich, where the festival started, it will always be first and foremost a festival of culture.
The very first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the marriage between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachen-Hildburghausen. The events of that day were quite different from those of the modern Oktoberfest because the celebration was honored with a horse race. Years later, though, the horse racing tradition was no longer the focus of the festival and new ones began. This is when the traditions of today's Oktoberfest began to take shape. In 1818, Oktoberfest was changed into a carnival-like celebration with rides, booths, games, and beer stands. Other changes that took place around this time affected the length and regularity of the festival. Munich officials decided that Oktoberfest would become an annual event without exception and that it would be extended to a 16-day event.
Although it was declared that Oktoberfest would happen every year without fail, it has been interrupted by hardships that shook Germany and its citizens. These include war, cholera epidemics, and financial troubles, leading to a total of 24 Oktoberfests having been canceled since its beginning. During World War I, Oktoberfest was not held at all and was later downsized to a simple autumn festival. Oktoberfest was again canceled during World War II.