Two weeks before the first Sunday in October, the first mayor of Munich taps the first keg in the Schottenhamel tent and inaugurates the Oktoberfest.
There are two major Oktoberfest ingredients, which are not installed at the Theresienwiese in advance: The landlords and the breweries. In order get to their businesses the most sophisticated possible, the “Grand Parade of the Oktoberfest landlords and breweries” takes place on the opening Saturday, beginning at 10:45 a.m. at the Herzog-Spital-Straße. The parade comprises the magnificently decorated horse-drawn drays of the six large Munich breweries, the 16 carriages of the landlords of the larger tents, showmen, the landlords of the smaller tents, the landlords of the Oide Wiesn, brass bands and Trachtler. It is since 1935 lead by the Münchner Kindl (Munich child), back then a boy on a pony, today a young woman on horseback. Even more important is a person in the following carriage: The mayor of Munich, sitting in the carriage of the Schottenhamel tent, where he is will tap the first barrel afterwards.
The tradition of the opening parade is looking back on a much longer tradition than the subsequent keg tapping by the mayor. In 1887 the legendary Hans Steyrer, also known as the Bavarian Hercules who missed no opportunity to attract attention to his businesses, had the idea of moving from his restaurant in the Tegernseer Landstraße to his Oktoberfest tent together with his staff, the first supply of beer and of course his brass band in festive carriages. As he did not care about a license for his undertaking, police stopped him long before reaching the Theresienwiese. Today, the parade is even lead by the police riding team.
Despite the initial disapproval of the authorities, Steyrer succeeded in attracting the interest of both the public and also his colleagues, who began themselves imitating his idea. But not before 1925, the Löwen, Pschorr and Thomas breweries orchestrated the first combined opening parade – still without official authorization. The first landlord to actually register the parade was Augustiner host Hans Schattenhofer. Therefore, its starting point since 1931 is the Herzog-Spital-Straße, where Schattenhofer’s restaurant was located. Sadly, today most hosts forgot about the tradition of moving together with their staff to Oktoberfest and prefer filling their staff carriage with free beer enthusiasts also known as friends of the family.
After 1935 eventually all breweries participated in the parade, which came to its full glory in the second half of the 20th century. In 1959, though, its future was threatened – once again by the police, who seriously demanded to refrain from marching to Oktoberfest due to its traffic-blocking character. Luckily, the zeitgeist changed much since those days.
The parade is organized by the Festring München, which sells tickets for the three stands alongside of the parade’s route as seen on the following map.