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A Beginners Guide to Oktoberfest, Munich Germany - California Globetrotter

A Beginners Guide to Oktoberfest

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It’s a new year with lots of new adventures that lay ahead! Maybe people are getting out their Bucket Lists and checking which things to tick off this year! I’m sure most of you have always dreamed of going to the world’s largest street fair with all the beer imaginable!

Between late Spring and early Autumn, it usually implies that somewhere in Bavaria, a beer festival can be found. ‘Gemütlichkeit‘ is in full swing from Regensburg’s Dult to the world’s most famous beer festival: Munich’s Oktoberfest and beyond!

What is normally a simple oval meadow is turned into the world’s largest, boisterous beer drinking festival with stalls, marquees, funfair, loud music and tons of people. For two weeks every year this folks fest takes place at the feet of the Bavaria statue, the patron saint of Bavaria, or as the locals call it, the “Weisn”. img_8109

Millions of people flock every year to Munich to partake in the debauchery that includes massive beer glasses, called a “Maß”, the wearing of traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl and swaying in harmony to “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”.

🍺When Is Oktoberfest?🍺

However, this world famous beer festival is NOT in the month of October as the name might imply! In fact, this thrilling festival takes place the last two weeks of September, usually ending within the first few days of October.

2016:   September 17th – October 3rd

2017:   September 16th – October 3rd

2018:   September 22nd – October 7th

2019:   September 21st – October 6th

2020:   September 19th – October 4th

PIN IT FOR LATER!

If you plan to attend the festival on the opening or closing days, you’ll be able to enjoy the related opening and closing ceremonies and parades and witness all the Bavarian pomp that goes with them.

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🍺When Did Oktoberfest First Begin?🍺

It’s always good to know a little bit of history before you go! Before it was known as “Oktoberfest”, it was a simple wedding celebration between Ludwig of Bavaria (who would later become King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. On October 17, 1810 a horse race was held to celebrate the royal marriage. It was held on the Theresienwiese, an area which is used for large festivals just outside Munich. A whopping 40,000 people attended this special event and by the next year, it was decided that the event should be continued.

Since that day, it has substantially grown into the world’s largest party, attracting more than 7 million visitors (!!!) every year lasting for a total of 16 days.

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🍺How Do I Get To Oktoberfest?🍺

Head to to the Theresienwiese in Munich! But leave your car behind! If you’re coming from anywhere outside of Munich, either drive your car and park in one of the surrounding towns such as Freising. However, for a good time, leave your car at home and head to Munich by public transport.

How do I get there?

S-Bahn (city train):
Station „Hackerbrücke“

U-Bahn (subway):
Option 1:   U4/U5 station „Theresienwiese“
Option 2:   U3/U6 station „Goetheplatz“
Option 3:   U3/U6 station „Poccistraße“

 A common phrase here in Bavaria to help you find the nearest beer festival is “FOLLOW THE LEDERHOSEN”. Don’t worry about getting lost. All the people are heading in the direction of Oktoberfest!

🍺When Is Oktoberfest Open?🍺

Tents open and beer is served from:
Monday to Friday:   10 am to 10:30 pm
Saturday, Sunday and holidays:   9 am to 10:30 pm

Tents close everyday at 11:30 pm
Last call is always 1 hour prior to closing!

Amusement rides:
10 am to midnight

🍺Is There An Entrance Fee?🍺

NO! Admittance to the Oktoberfest and the tents are free of charge! All food, drinks and rides are charged separately. CASH ONLY for all purchases!

Only if you plan to visit the Historical Weisn (“Oide Wiesn”) you will pay a small fee of 3€.

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🍺Which Beer Tent Should I Go To?🍺

There are 14 massive beer tents as well as 21 smaller tents at Oktoberfest which are supplied by Munich’s 6 largest breweries. Each tent has it’s own unique personality and decor and vary in size. The largest tent can hold up to 10,000 people! The most popular tents are the larger ones that have been ornately decorated like the Hacker-Pschorr brewery’s tent, Hacker (aka Bavarian Heaven), or the Paulaner brewery’s tent, the Winzerer Fähndl.

Immediately upon arrival, you will notice that the tents are quite difficult to get into. There are endless lines waiting to get into the tents. Pick any tent which offers the chance to get in. There is a possibility that you may wait a long time to enter the tent, or you may need to move on to a different tent as security guards will be standing guard to prevent the tents from becoming overcrowded.

**KEEP IN MIND** No seat = no beer!

Until you have a seat, the waiter/waitress will likely ignore you or tell you to move out of the aisle as they need the space when carrying 8+ 1 liter mugs. Once you have a seat, a waiter will find you and take your order. It may take a while, but they will come!

STAY OUT OF THE WAY!!

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Weekends are by far the busiest time to visit Oktoberfest and the most difficult to get into a tent. It is best to arrive early in the morning (yes, drinking beer at 10am is ok!) or save your trip to during the week.

🍺Can I Reserve A Table?🍺

Yes, it is possible, but keep in mind beer tents start accepting reservations at the beginning of the new year and fill up quickly. Should you decide to book a table, keep in mind that you are booking a full table for no less than 10 people. After a reservation has been made, you will receive coupons and vouchers. These can be redeemed inside the tent upon arrival.

If you plan on reserving a table, keep in mind you’re not only reserving a table for 10 people, but you will be required to buy food and drinks ranging anywhere from 20 to 80 depending on the day, time and tent.

Don’t have enough people to reserve a table? Have no fear, do not despair! Between 30-50% of tables can’t be reserved and are open to the public, meaning first come, first serve!

🍺Food & Beer Inside The Tent🍺

Wahoo! You’ve made it inside a tent and found a seat! Now order a beer and partake in the boisterous atmosphere!

Oktoberfest Beer

Each of Munich’s 6 breweries provide Oktoberfest with their own special “Oktoberfest beer” which has 6% alcohol compared to the every day beer, therefore it is stronger than normal.

Oktoberfest is not a beer drinking competition so there is no need to guzzle down as much as possible! Pace yourself and enjoy the atmosphere! As a girl, I’d say 2 is plenty! 4 is way to much!

Each beer is served in large glass 1 liter mugs called a “Maß” and costs between 9.70 € and 10.10 € this year and is ONLY served inside the tents! If you don’t get it, you don’t get a beer!

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IMPORTANT: DO NOT attempt to steal the glass! Security guards will check all bags as it is illegal to steal the Oktoberfest mugs!

Don’t drink beer? Have no fear! All tents offer non-alcoholic drinks, including non-alcoholic beer!

Oktoberfest Food

Everyone is bound to find something to eat! Each tent offers traditional Bavarian cuisine.

Hendl (Grilled Chicken)

Schweinshaxen (crispy grilled pork knuckle)

Weißwurst (a white sausage) best eaten along side a big Brez’n (Pretzel)

Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick)

and much more!

TIP YOUR SERVER!!

However, food is much cheaper outside of the tent than inside, and usually more simple, quick and easy.

Bratwurst semmel (Bratwurst sandwich)

Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick)

Leberkäse (Bologna sausage sandwich)

Schokolade Erdbeeren (Chocolate Covered Strawberries)

Mandeln (Roasted Almonds)

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🍺What Should I Wear?🍺

Traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl are wore by the Bavarians, as well as by the tourists as a fashion statement. Traditional Tracht range in price between 80-1000. It is not mandatory to wear the traditional clothing, but it certainly adds to the fun and makes for a great souvenir!

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If you’re interested in buying a pair of Lederhosen or a beautiful Dirndl, there are a plethora of Tracht shops throughout Munich.

TIP: For affordable Tracht, head to the clothing store C&A, which also offer plus-size Dirndls!

🍺Oktoberfest Fun Park🍺

There are dozens of different rides you can take a ride on for some good ol’ fun!

  • The Ferris Wheel offers the best views over the entire Oktoberfest and Munich.
  • The “Toboggan” is the oldest ride at Oktoberfest which requires you to conquer the conveyor belt first.
  • The “Teufelsrad” is another of the oldest rides.
  • Bumber Cars is always a good choice and offers the most fun!

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🍺Learn The Language🍺

So, obviously German isn’t the easiest language to learn over night. Taking the time to learn a few of the common phrases which can make your experience more enjoyable.

A stein of beer: ein maß (ß is a double ‘s’ so the word is pronounced mass).
Thank you: Danke
Please: Bitte
You’re welcome: Bitte schön
Cheers!: Prost!

🍺Tips For Visiting Oktoberfest🍺

Like all big festivals, there are bound to be pick-pockets so BE AWARE OF YOUR BELONGINGS!!

DON’T PUT YOUR WALLET IN YOUR POCKETS

BUY A PURSE WITH A STRAP AND 1 ZIPPER (but don’t put it on the floor!)

DON’T WEAR OPEN TOE SHOES/SANDALS

DON’T BRING ANY VALUABLES

DON’T TRY TO STEAL A GLASS MUG!!

DON’T ON ACCIDENTALLY LEAVE THE TENT! (You might not get in again!)

CHECK WITH SECURITY BEFORE LEAVING THE TENT

DON’T TENT HOP ON BUSY DAYS! YOU MIGHT NOT GET IN TWICE!

LEAVE BIG BAGS AND BACKPACKS AT HOME!!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Oktoberfest.de

🍺HAVE FUN & DON’T BECOME ANOTHER “BEER CORPSE”🍺

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If you’re interested in visiting Germany and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide or the Lonely Plant Travel Guide! Without these guides, I would be lost! These are my travel Bibles!

                                           

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

🍺Other Posts About Munich:🍺

The SPLENDOR of the Munich Residenz and Why You Should Visit It

The Beautiful Schloss Nymphenburg

Dachau Concentration Camp

Starnbergersee

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Author: California Globetrotter

At 14 I started traveling the world with my parents and was hooked! By 21 I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. By 26 I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Germany to teach English. Little did I know, I'd meet the love of my life and end up traveling to the most romantic and idyllic towns in Europe and becoming a long-term expat in Bavaria! My name is Lorelei and I'm just your typical CaliGirl, Sunset Chaser, Fairytale Dreamer, Dress Lover, Traveloholic, Beer Drinker!

41 thoughts on “A Beginners Guide to Oktoberfest

  1. very informative, thanks! #wkdtravelinspiration

  2. Great guide, though I always am shocked that it is not in October. Beer corpse – sort of funny

  3. Hubby said he was in Munich at the beginning of October years ago and missed the crowds but they were still serving beer.

  4. I have been there twice and it was enough. I think it’s getting more crowded every year. You didn’t mention, but I would advise to go early to the toilet, the queues by the ladies are long 😀

  5. This is such a useful guide, I would never have thought of half the tips you give. I’m torn between desperately wanting to go to Oktoberfest and feeling horrified by the crowds. #wkendtravelinspiration

  6. Some great tips! We skipped Oktoberfest but went to a smaller beer festival in a little Bavarian town a couple of years ago and really enjoyed that.

  7. I have such fond memories of my weekend at Oktoberfest and I don’t even like beer. It is definitely something everyone should experience once in their lifetime.

  8. I’ve wanted to visit Oktoberfest my last two years in Europe and failed, and I’ve just realised I won’t be able to go this year either! Did manage to visit the Viennese equivalent last year which was alright but far from Munich’s efforts. I think I have to diary it in for next year so I can definitely go. Great advice and tips, pinned for next year 😉

    • You should consider a visit to Regensburg’s Dult – we have It twice a year for two weeks in May and Aug/Sept! Link in a previous comment before yours! Always glad to have a reason to get a group of people together and go!

  9. Thank you for sharing this, Lolo. I love Oktoberfest but had no idea that it was prompted by the wedding celebration of Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese. In fact, I didn’t even know he was ever married. #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  10. This is a great post full of Oktoberfest tips. Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration! We’ll see you next week!

  11. Enjoyed reading about the origins of Oktoberfest and your tips for attending the festival.

  12. I am not a beer drinker at all, but the festival looks amazing. You have certainly made me consider going and of course dressing up to get into the mood!! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  13. I had no clue this wasn’t in October! I’m not a big beer fan but have always wanted to go to soak in the atmosphere. But since I’m not a drinker, I definitely won’t become a beer corpse 🙂

  14. I’ve always wanted to visit Oktoberfest, but I’m not a beer drinker. I’m glad to know that there are non-alcoholic options. That crowd looks a tad intimidating, so I’m glad you gave some tips about working around them. #WkendTravelInspiration

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  33. Yay for Oktoberfest! I’ve been to Oktoberfest twice in Munich now and absolutely loved it! It’s seriously such a good time. Still, I have to admit that I didn’t know very much about the origins of the festival (you mean to tell me Oktoberfest is about more than just beer?! hehe) so this was really fun to read! Thanks for sharing 😀

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