BERLIN (AP) -- The world's largest beer festival opened Saturday in Germany as Munich's mayor tapped the first keg to kick off the 16-day Oktoberfest, known for its oompah music and traditional costumes.
With only two blows of his hammer and a cry of "O'zapft is" -- "It's Tapped" -- Mayor Christian Ude inserted the tap into the first keg, opening the 179th Oktoberfest to the cheering of thousands who were waiting to be served their first beer.
More than 6 million guests from around the world are expected to descend on the beer tents of Munich to celebrate the 16-day Oktoberfest extravaganza.
The Oktoberfest started with a wedding party: Just over 200 years ago, Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig celebrated his royal nuptials with a big public bash that was such a hit it became an annual event. Nowadays, it is now known worldwide for its towering mugs of beer, oompah music, men wearing traditional Bavarian Lederhosen leather shorts and women in bright costumes. [26 photos total]

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Young people celebrate the opening ceremony in the "Hofbraeuzelt' beer tent of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. The world's largest beer festival, to be held from Sept. 22 to Oct. 7, 2012 will attract more than six million guests from around the world. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Visitors enjoy a sunny day at the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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General view at the Oktoberfest beer festival after opening in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Visitors enjoy a ride with a merry-go-round at the Oktoberfest beer festival after opening in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A ferris wheel is silhouetted in front of the Alps on a sunny day of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Visitors enjoy a ride in a merry go round on a sunny day at the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Visitors enjoy a ride in a carousel on a sunny day at the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Visitors enjoy a ride in a merry go round on a sunny day at the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Visitors enjoy the ride on the 'Top Spin', a fairground ride, at the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A man prepares Gingerbread hearts on a sunny day at the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Two women react, as they arrive for the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival as rain falls, in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A young Bavarian woman watches a roller coaster during the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A young man displays a beer mug in the Hofbraeuhaus tent after the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A man poses with an empty beer mug in a tent at the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A waitress carries beer mugs in the Hofbraeuhaus tent after the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Traditionally dressed Bavarian men raise their steins and enjoy a sunny day of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Young people enjoy the opening ceremony of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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People stretch out to reach beer mugs in the Hofbraeuhaus tent after the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A man wearing traditional Bavarian clothes wears a decorated hat with hops, prior to the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival, in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Two young women wearing in traditional Bavarian Dirndl dress talking during the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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Mayor of Munich Christian Ude taps the first beer barrel during the official opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Joerg Koch) #
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Visitors rest behind a beer tent during the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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A waitress talks on a phone behind a beer tent prior to the opening ceremony of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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People await the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in front of a beer tent, in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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People await the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in front of a beer tent during heavy rain in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #
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People wait for the opening of the famous Bavarian "Oktoberfest" beer festival in front of a beer tent during heavy rain in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AP / Matthias Schrader) #

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