Things to Know Before You Go-Oktoberfest in Munich
As summer is quickly coming to a close (wah!), that means that autumn and the season of Oktoberfest is right around the corner. Surprisingly, Oktoberfest is mostly situated in September with it’s closing days finding itself in October. This year is begins September 21st and goes until Sunday, October 6th. Obviously I’m talking about the epicenter of Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany. Please don’t come at me with the Helen, Georgia Oktoberfest. I’m referring specifically to the quintessential Oktoberfest experience that is a German beer festival. There is nothing better.
I went to Munich’s Oktoberfest last year and, while I don’t get to go this year (sad), I’ve decided it’s finally time to break out the Oktoberfest advice. Now, while I’ve only gone once, consider this a beginner’s guide to Oktoberfest because I’m sure there is way more info that I’ve left out.
1.) Each tent is different on the Oktoberfest grounds. They all host one or two of the same brand of beer. So you’ll find the Augustiner Festhalle, Hofbräu-Festzelt, Löwenbräu-Festzelt just to name a few. There are 16 big name tents with each tent having it’s own vibe. Some are considered more pumped while others are more low-key.My favorite was the Augustiner tent. I felt it had the perfect mix of fun people and good music without it being too insane. So, basically you can’t walk into the Augustiner tent and ask for a Hofbrau beer. You’ll prob be ignored and really annoy the ladies who handle the giant beer tankards. There is typically live music from a band in the center of the tent and as the day wears on into night, the tents become more and more raucous and more and more fun. Everyone goes from sitting at the tables eating their meals to standing on benches belting out tunes in German and slamming their glasses together.
2. ) There is a possibility of making reservations in a tent but you’ll need a certain amount of people and prices can range from $191-$4995 depending on how many seats, tables, lunches and/or dinners you reserve. OR you can just try your luck and walk into a tent. Sometimes you’ll have to wait in line as the ladies at the front keep track of how many people are in the tent. When people go out, you can go in. The first night I was there we waited for about 45 mins and managed to get in. Some tents wont let you in for various reasons which can seem arbitrary and random. Some prefer you to be traditionally dressed, some prefer you to not be drunk, some prefer you to just present yourself well or be polite/nice. It all depends. The first time I went in, the ladies didn’t want to let in this group of guys that looked as if they had just come from a club but they let my mom and me in and we were not dressed up at all. So, I think it just depends. The closing day of Oktoberfest we were told there was no way we were going to be let in but we walked into all tents with no problem the whole day. So, all of that to say that reservations are not necessary. Haha.
3.) There is a parade during Oktoberfest wherein draft horses pull elaborately decorated carts representing each brewery. The breweries brew beer specifically for Oktoberfest and cart it into the festival in wooden barrels. They’re gorgeous and can be heard coming down the street a ways as they’re covered in bells. Definitely worth a glimpse if you get the chance.
4.) There is food at the tents and it’s delicious, traditional German food that I highly recommend! Also, definitely eat before indulging in heavy drinking. Having a nice, carb-y base will help you out.
5.) When you walk into the tents, they -will- be packed and it -will- be hard to find a seat at a table. Don’t fret. Find some friendly faces and ask to sit down! Chances are you’ll meet some pretty cool people and get to party the night away with them. While we were there we met a cool German family and an awesome group of fun world travelers that let us join in on their fun. They all ended up being majorly cool and made the experience even more fun.
6.) It does matter what you wear. Obviously it’s not mandatory to wear traditional clothing but it’s nice to participate in that aspect of Oktoberfest. Here is the caveat though…if you do decide to dress traditionally make sure you’re doing your research. For women, you’ll be wearing the dirndl and for the men, the lederhosen. Women can also wear the lederhosen but I didn’t see many women wearing it.
For me, personally, I would have gone with a longer skirt on my dirndl. It was a bit short and that’s considered to be pretty impractical. It also matters where you tie your bow on your skirt as it indicates whether your’re single, taken, widowed, etc. This website gives a pretty good rundown of the ins and outs of traditional wear for Oktoberfest.
7.) Most importantly, go with someone you trust, prepare to have fun and be careful. I definitely saw my fair share of people hitting the deck after having too many gigantic steins of beer (1 liter in total), tripping and falling off benches, breaking their steins and spraying glass everywhere and being rushed away by ambulances. Also, it’s cold at night so wear a lil sweater.