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Surely it is the most celebrated wedding of all time. Way back when - in October 1810 to be precise - Bavaria's Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Theresa, and joyous festivities continued for sixteen days on the outskirts of Munich. Everyone had such a grand time, the celebrations were repeated the following year, and the next, and almost every year since. Now, the site is called Theresienwiese (Theresa's meadow) and the occasion Oktoberfest.

In case you haven't heard of the magnitude of this affair, let me quote statistics for last year's bash. An estimated 7 million attended. They consumed 200,000 pairs of pork sausages, hundreds of thousands of chickens, and at least five dozen oxen broiled whole on outdoor spits. And they drank five million litres of beer. For the event, temporary beer-gardens are set up by Munich breweries in massive tents. Beer is ceremoniously brought in aboard decorated horse-drawn drays. There are colourful parades, fairground rides, live bands - and lots of rollicking good fun.