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Germany: Munich’s beer tent landlords, waitresses and breweries begin their entrance parade at 10:45 a.m. Saturday as an official prelude to Oktoberfest, a beer bash and folk festival that claims to be the largest in the world. From its beginning as a celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on Oct. 12, 1810, the fair on the Theresienwiese has grown to include huge beer tents, carnival rides, game booths and food stalls. Always a topic of interest, this year’s one-liter Mass (mug) of beer costs between 8.10 and 8.60 euros. Drinking hours are 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Oct. 3, German Unity Day, with tents closing at 11:30 p.m. Stalls and fairground attractions open at 10 a.m. and remain operating until 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Sept. 22 and 29 are Family Days with reduced prices on carnival rides from noon to 6 p.m. Find more details and tips at www.oktoberfest.de/en/ and at www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=103&article=64676.

Switzerland: September signals the beginning of the Alpine cattle drives (désalpe in the French regions, Abfahrt in the German areas) in which the animals are brought down from their summer mountain pastures. In many villages, the event is marked with a festival, featuring the cows wearing the Tschäppel (ornamented headgear) and Plümpen (big cow bells) and Alpine herdsmen dressed in traditional costumes. Upon the arrival of the cattle and their escorts, the village breaks out with music, food and drinks. Often festivities include a large market with cheese made from the Alpine milk. One of the first villages to mark the return is Urnäsch, which welcomes its bovine herds at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by its festival and farmers market. The village’s Web site is www.urnaesch-tourismus.ch; find information on similar festivals at www.myswitzerland.com/en.

France: The Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris will explode at noon Saturday with the sounds of electronic music as the city’s annual Techno Parade begins its route through the capital’s streets. "Paris Mix City" is this year’s theme, reflecting the unity of music, cultures and ethnic groups. An international lineup of DJs will manage the party procession that will travel along the Boulevard Saint Michel, Boulevard Saint Germain, the Pont de Sully and the Boulevard Henri IV before arriving at the Place de la Bastille at about 8 p.m. for an after-parade festival. More information on the parade is available at www.technoparade.fr/2009/08/english-2.

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