Beyond Oktoberfest: Celebrate Winter at Two German and Italian Ski Festivals
It's only September, but Oktoberfest is already in full swing. The world’s largest folk festival, Oktoberfest draws 7+ million visitors from around the world to Munich each fall to enjoy some of Bavaria’s finest brews.
The vast majority of attendees wear traditional Bavarian Trachten: dirndls and lederhosen. Walking through the Wies’n and into the football field size tents can feel like being at the world’s biggest Halloween party, where everyone is wearing the same costume.
What does Oktoberfest have to do with cross country skiing, you might be wondering?
It turns out that the grandson of Bavarian Prince Ludwig, whose wedding in 1810 marked the first Oktoberfest, is the namesake for the König Ludwig Lauf Worldloppet ski marathon.
The 50km classic race starts in Oberammergau, a small village in the Bavarian Alps, and takes skiers through a scenic high-elevation valley named after the Prince’s grandson, King Ludwig II. The beer flows here too…
The event starts right across the street from the Ettal Monastery, best known for its brewery. Of course, finishers are rewarded with a big bottle of Bavarian beer when they cross the line too. Prost!
If you want to learn about how beer is brewed in Germany, and swap the Oktoberfest crowds for some cross-country skiing, there are still a few spaces on our Marcialonga & König Ludwig Lauf trip this January.
Guests on this trip experience two culturally distinct ski marathons on back-to-back weekends: the König Ludwig Lauf in Germany and Marcialonga in Italy. The Marcialonga is one of the most popular events on the annual Worldloppet calendar. Registration typically fills within minutes, but as an official tour operator of the Marcialonga, we still have a handful of entries available – only until next week: October 6!
It may not be Oktoberfest and it’s definitely not in Germany, but in the world of cross-country skiing, the Marcialonga ski marathon in the Italian Dolomites is a similarly festive cultural event that has attracted thousands of international skiers to the Italian village of Cavalese every winter since 1971.
Interestingly, Marcialonga participation spiked when it became a classic-only ski race in 2003, primarily due to the Scandinavian snowbirds who flock south to Italy’s late-January sunshine for the 70 km Marcialonga that winds its way through the Fassa and Fiemme Valleys.
In 2013, the Marcialonga Story vintage ski event started. Paying tribute to the long tradition of cross-country skiing in northern Italy, skiers dress in vintage clothes and ski with traditional equipment. They’re not lederhosen, but the wool knickers, sweaters and dresses create a unique atmosphere rarely found in a ski race.
At the finish line of the Marcialonga ski events, you won’t find a keg of beer or even high-tech electrolyte drinks, but hot coffee and warm brioche are quite the reward. And later on when you’re back at your hotel, a glass of full-bodied Lagrien red wine with fresh, homemade pasta is the perfect way to celebrate a big accomplishment!
Highlights from the Marcialonga and Konig Ludwig trip last winter?
“Doing the Loppets with a group and having the support of the leaders. The atmosphere at the Marcialonga both during the race and in Cavalese. The sledding in Leutasch was really fun!
Really liked the walking tour through Innsbruck and lunch there. It was such a great city. ”
– Kat Sovio, Vancouver, BC
If you want the unique cultural experience of skiing the Marcialonga in Italy and König Ludwig Lauf in Germany this winter, reach out to email@example.com see the itinerary and save your spot before the last Oktoberfest keg is tapped on Tuesday, October 3 (Remember:Guaranteed entry in the Marcialonga ends on Friday, October 6!)
See you on the trail... or afterwards in the beer hall. Prost!