Annual Oktoberfest kicks off in Munich with beer, lederhosen, sausages

MUNICH, Germany, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Thousands of visitors, many of them dressed in traditional lederhosen or dirndl corseted dresses, descended on Munich on Saturday for the start of the annual Oktoberfest, the world's largest beer festival.

Munich's mayor, Dieter Reiter, kicked off the festivities by tapping open the first beer keg with a traditional shout of "O zapft is!" ("It's tapped" in English).

Revelers arrived early to secure spaces at the coveted long communal tables in tents, where visitors swig beer, munch on sausages, pretzel or pork knuckle, and listen to oompah bands.

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Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany 2018
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Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany 2018
A visitor poses for a picture at the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Visitors celebrate in a beer tent at the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. The Oktoberfest lasts until October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. The beer festival typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)
A general view shows the festival ground during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
Visitors ride a roller coaster during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A general view shows the festival ground during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
A couple hold hands as they ride a merry-go-round at the Theresienwiese fair ground of the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, on September 22, 2018. - The world's biggest beer festival will celebrate from the September 22, until October 7, 2018. (Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Ginger bread hearts are pictured at the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. The Oktoberfest lasts until October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. The beer festival typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)
A general view shows the festival ground during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Guests from Capetown, South Africa during the Oktoberfest 2018 at Theresienwiese on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Brian Dowling/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: The ferris wheel and a rollercoaster are pictured at the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. The Oktoberfest lasts until October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. The beer festival typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Visitors celebrate in a beer tent at the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. The Oktoberfest lasts until October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. The beer festival typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: A waitress carries one liter mugs of beer in the Armbrustschuetzenzelt tent on the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Two young women wearing dirndls attend the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Revelers relax outside as young women wearing dirndls walk past on the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: A waitress sells pretzels as revelers celebrate with beer in the Armbrustschuetzenzelt tent on the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Young women wearing dirndls celebrate in the Armbrustschuetzenzelt tent on the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Rosi Schipflinger, Carolin Reiber and Florian Silbereisen during the opening of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival at Theresienwiese on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter with his wife Petra Reiter and Bavarian Minister-President Markus Soeder and his wife Karin Soeder during the opening of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival at Theresienwiese on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter with his wife Petra Reiter during the opening of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival at Theresienwiese on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: A Bavarian marching band performs on the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Revelers ride a roller coaster on the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Visitors ride a merry-go-round during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Visitors cheer at the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Visitors toast with beers during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Musicians Sepp, Anderl and Quirin hold the official Oktoberfest beer mugs during a presentation in Munich, Germany, August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
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Oktoberfest has its origins in a horse race that took place in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

The public festivities on the Theresienwiese open ground - named after the bride - became more elaborate as time went on, with stalls and amusement rises and it gradually turned into a folk festival.

Oktoberfest attracts around six million visitors every year, with some traveling from abroad for the experience. This year's festival runs from Sept. 22 to Oct. 7.

(Reporting by Reuters Television Writing by Michelle Martin Editing by Gareth Jones)

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