Oktoberfest is the world's largest folk festival, spanning just over 2 weeks, and is held annually in a meadow (the Theresienwiese), just a short tram ride from Munich’s city center.
Over the past decade it has attracted an average of around 6 million visitors a year, making their way through thousands of grilled sausages, gingerbread hearts and giant pretzels.
Aside from eating, drinking, and dancing, the festival features a variety of colorful parades and fairground rides, and a great trip for the kids too during the day.
Keep reading to get the top advice for your trip!
For the ultimate Beerfest experience, Opening Day at the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be. At noon-time, the first keg of Oktoberfest beer is tapped here by Munich’s Lord Mayor, and once the barrel is open, it’s a beer drinking onslaught for the next 2 weeks.
As expected, weekends are the most popular and it’s extremely crowded and almost impossible to get a seat, unless you book nearly a year in advance. So arrange to go mid-week before 12pm and you will have a good chance of getting a table without the need to book!
However, If you’re going to visit the festival in a group of 5 or more, make sure you reserve a spot in your beer tent of choice, particularly on the opening day. Reservations are made with each beer tent directly, their contact details can be found at http://www.oktoberfest.de
The beer itself:
The only beer served is that brewed within the city limits of Munich. Beers meeting these criteria are designated Oktoberfest Beer and are around 6% alcohol content.
The breweries that can produce Oktoberfest beer under the aforementioned criteria are:
However, if you’re not a fan of beer, the festival also caters to wine drinkers in the Weinzelt (wine tent). Here you can choose from more than 15 different wines (and there are some excellent ones in Germany, especially from Franconia) in addition to different types of Sekt (sparkling wine) and champagne. However, you’ll find a small wine selection at every tent, so no need to fret.
If you need a break from drinking, you can wander through the fairground that surrounds the beer tents, where there are seemingly endless rides and carnival games in which to partake. Moreover, if you are visiting at the right time, you may be coinciding with some of the special events that take place.
On the opening weekend, the Costume and Riflemen’s Parade sees some 7,000 costumed performers and musicians, thoroughbred horses, oxen and associated farmyard animals walk through the centre of Munich to celebrate the Oktoberfest’s opening weekend. If the weather holds up, an open-air concert featuring 400 musicians also takes place to kick-start the festivities!
To summarize, organise your trip in advance and be prepared for lots of singing, crowds and to be in the wonderful company of an array of cultures all under one tent!