Fun lessons in event management from Oktoberfest

Surely you’ve heard of Oktoberfest, the traditional German festival. But did you ever wonder where it all started?

Let’s take a look at the traditions and strengths of this beloved German festival with comments and pictures from Sarah Tanizar, a semester two student on our event management program.

A festival based on history and culture

“Here’s a little history lesson. The Oktober Festival started in Munich because of the Bavarian Prince, Prince Ludwig, who invited the whole city to celebrate his marriage to the Princess Theresa of Saxony. Because it first took place in October, they just named it after the month and now it is a beer drinking festival that is known and celebrated all around the world.

Since Germans are known for producing and loving good beer, it attracts tourist and locals who are specialists in the Oktober Fest beer traditions. One thing you might not know is that Oktober Festival now it starts earlier, for weather reasons. This year it started September 17th and it will end on the 10th of October. As a student of Glion’s event management program, I have a keen interest in cultural events and festivals of all kinds, and being just a few hours away from Bavaria, I took the weekend to check it out with a few of my Glion friends.”

Event management OktoberfestGetting into the spirit (and funny costumes) of Oktoberfest

“This festival encourages people to gather and celebrate German culture by wearing traditional German clothing, eating their typical German meals and drinking good German beer. We met people from all over Europe and had a great time going from tent to tent to eat, drink and be merry. Here’s a picture of us in the Hacker Festzelt.

Being students, we did not book a table so we had to leave the house early in the morning to get a table. Going into the tent, it was already full of people, drinking beer and waiting for the live folk music, which started at 12pm. Once the music started, everyone was dancing on tables, singing their lungs out and pouring beer down their throats.”

Important event planning details for this type of event

“From the perspective of an events coordinator, I could see the many contingencies one would have to take into account as the party heated up. Luckily, the Oktoberfest organizers seemed to have thought of them all. I picked out some clear essentials that Oktoberfest got right.

Safety & Hygiene: From one side of the room to the other, we saw people get drunk before the music even started. For potential fights, to fast clean ups, there were a few rules that visitors were asked to abide. For instance: no sleeping, no fighting and if you puke outside of the washroom, you have to pay 20 Euros. There were plenty of portable washrooms and urinals. As simple as that might sound, giving guests easy access to such facilities is key for this type of outdoor event.

Promotion around entertainment: The festive ambiance and fun comes with the traditional folk music and costumes, that’s what attracts locals and tourists of all ages. Otherwise, why would so many people come to drink beer in a tent?

Logistics: With an event of this size, and with so many people wanting food and drinks at the same time, we could see that the organizers had thought out how many staff they would need for 200 tables and how to organize the staff.

They got the people in, people had a good time, they stayed the whole day and many will keep coming back, year after year.  All it took was solid organisation, team work and learning how to deal with all kinds of people.

Overall, this festival has taught me that we have to be more than just organized, we have to also experience such events to make the event even better, and in turn to be better event managers.”

Oktoberfest 2

Story and photos by Sarah Tanizar

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