For lovers of beer, Bavarian culture and good times, hitting up Oktoberfest in Munich is like going on a trip to Disneyland.
Festivals don’t get much better than this, trust us. With people getting into the spirit in traditional costumes, having fun on amusement rides and tucking into the best flavours of Bavaria at foodie stalls (we’re talking pretzels bigger than your head and bratwurst for days), Oktoberfest is all kinds of awesome.
Take a front row seat at the world’s largest folk festival as we help you prep for your Oktoberfest trip with our guide for first-timers.
1. So, what is Oktoberfest all about?
Way back in 1810, the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese threw a big ol’ party to celebrate their wedding. The party guests? Oh ya know, just the citizens of Munich. Best. Party. Ever.
Since this epic wedding party, six million festival goers now make the pilgrimage to Theresienwiese (known as Therese’s fields) every September. The golden rule? All of the beer flowing at the tents in Oktoberfest must be brewed in Munich.
At midday on day one, the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer in a much-awaited opening ceremony. Then, everyone else can get in on the beer sippin’ action.
2. When does Oktoberfest start?
For 2018, Munich’s Oktoberfest opens at 9am on the weekend and 10am on weekdays, with beers being served until 10.30pm in most beer tents.
Make sure you arrive early enough to grab a table. Why? Because you need to be seated to place an order. Also, crowd levels surge on weekends and beer tents close their doors if they’re overcrowded, so you gotta get in quick!
Running a little late? No worries. You can grab a table outside or check out one of the smaller beer tents if the popular spots are busy.
On the first Sunday of Oktoberfest, the streets of Munich are flooded with performers, horses, floats and carriages draped in ribbons, garlands and traditional colours. This is Bavaria blowing its own trumpet with a 7 km march through the city. Get amongst it!
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3. Do I need an Oktoberfest outfit?
Being one of 16 German states, Bavaria is famous for its castles, alpine culture and folk costumes. And while wearing a Bavarian outfit to Oktoberfest is completely optional, let’s face it, life is more fun in lederhosen.
Didn’t have time to grab an Oktoberfest outfit before your trip? No worries. Head on down to Kaufingerstrasse, the main shopping street in Munich, to grab your lederhosen or dirndl (traditional dress) before the festival kicks off. Sorted!
4. What’s the deal with the beer tents?
Wanna do Oktoberfest like a pro? Explore ALL of the beer tents.
In 2018, there are 14 big beer tents and 20 smaller tents to explore at Oktoberfest in Munich. Every tent has its own personality and vibe: from the Bavarian brass bands playing at the cosy halls like Zur Bratwurst to the beautifully decorated roof of Hacker-Festhalle.
In the Löwenbräu beer garden, you’ll find a 4.5 metre lion (it actually roars!) which attracts supporters of the TSV 1860 Munich football team. Why? ‘Cos their team symbol is also… yep, you guessed it, a lion.
5. What happens if I lose my friends in the tents?!
Ever tried to find a friend in a beer tent filled with 10,000 dancing and singing revellers? Yeah, it’s pretty difficult!
Our top tip? Bring a power bank for your phone. This way, even if phone signal is a little sketchy (as everyone will be trying to message their mates at the same time), at least you can rest assured that you’re fully charged up and won’t run out of battery.
You could also set a good old-fashioned meeting point IRL. This means you’ll be able to link up with your mates later in the day if you lose track of each other.
6. What should I NOT do at Oktoberfest?
Don’t bring your backpack or any large bags
They won’t be allowed into the festival grounds.
Don’t forget to tip your server the first time you order a beer
If you’re friendly to the staff, they’ll remember your table and will keep coming back to serve you. Also, cash is your best bet for paying for food and drink – in 2018, the average price of a beer is approx. €11 so make sure you bring enough euros with you.
Don’t drink without saying Prost!
You’ve also gotta make eye contact and clink glasses (careful – these things are heavy!) with EVERYONE at your table.
Know your limits
Beer is served by the litre and may be stronger than you’re used to. The German language has the perfect word for if you hit it too hard: Bierleichen (roughly translated to ‘beer zombie’). But seriously, drink responsibly and stay hydrated – water and soft drinks are always available.
Don’t try and take a beer glass home with you
It’s not worth getting into trouble! Stick to buying Oktoberfest merch if you wanna say Ich Liebe Dich (I love you) with a souvenir.
7. What’s the lingo low-down?
Come armed with the lingo for conversations and foodie highlights:
Danke: ‘Thank you’
Maß (Mass): a huge glass that contains one litre of liquid gold beer
Radler: beer topped up with lemonade
Schnapps: a sweet liqueur
Brathendl: roast chicken – an Oktoberfest specialty
Weisswurst: Bavarian white sausage served with mustard
Käsespätzle: sort of like German-style macaroni and cheese, served with fried onions
Schweinshaxe: pork knuckle – the perfectly crispy staple of every German feast
8. Extra things to remember about Oktoberfest
It’s very easy to get swept up in a singalong!
When you’re at Oktoberfest in Munich, kick it with traditional bands playing the Oktoberfest anthems. If you haven’t heard ‘Ein Prosit’ yet, don’t worry, you’ll chant this song approx. every 15 minutes. Just don’t show off your dance moves on the tables or security will show you to the door…
Remember, you don’t have to drink to have fun.
There’s so much to see and do at Oktoberfest! Chill out under the giant Bavaria statue with a hot chocolate or people watch as festival-goers in matching long socks and alpine hats stroll past.
Did we mention there are amusement rides here too?
Yep, go wild – from the Ferris wheel to roller coasters, haunted houses to bumper cars, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We told you it was like Disneyland, right?
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