If you love German traditions and looking for a reason to be happily drunk, Oktoberfest is the best festival for you! Over 6 Million people get together every year, wear Dirndl (for women) or Lederhosen (for men), eat traditional Bavarian food, dance altogether and consume a million liters of beer on the ground of Theresienwiese, Munich. It' s not just a great festival, it is also a full-blown fair! There are lots of people, beer tents, food booths and rides, that's why Oktoberfest can be hard to navigate. So here is all the vital information that you will need to enjoy your time in Munich!
The Oktoberfest is originally a wedding anniversary, it dates back to the wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese on 12th of October 1810. In 1872, the organizers moved the date to September because of the lovely freezing German weather :) So every year, the Oktoberfest starts on the 3rd Saturday of September to enjoy the last days of great weather in Germany. Festival ends on the first week of October and lasts 16 days.
The Oktoberfest (as locals called Wiesn or Festwiesn) held in the Theresienwiese (Queen Therese's meadow) which is not very far away from the central station. You can reach the ground with a 15-minute walk. You can also take the U4/U5 to Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe, U3/U6 to Goetheplatz, S-Bahn to Hackerbrücke or take a taxi.
The first Saturday is the opening ceremony when the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg and announces "O'zapft is!". Oktoberfest is famous for its beer tents but it is always overly crowded, that's why it is hard to get in. There are 15 major beer tents which have approximately 6.000 seats each. Every tent has a different specialty. The most popular ones are Schottenhammel, Schützenzelt, Hacker-Festzelt, and Hofbrau-Festzelt which are famous for its great music and young crowd. If you enjoy Weißbier or if you want wine or Champagne, you can visit Weinzelt. If you want to eat fish then you have to visit Fischer Vroni or craving for nice beef, Ochsenbraterei must be your option. Oh, and for the best beer, you have to visit Augustinerbrau.
Beer tents normally open at 10 am on weekdays and 9 am on weekends. They are open until 11 pm every day. But getting inside one is a whole another story. If you have a reservation (reservation offices open around January) then you can get into the beer tents very easily, but let's be honest; Nobody has time for that. If you don't have a reservation then you have to start waiting in front of the tent very early (around 8 am). You can also check which tents are open/close with an app (for Iphone and for Android). Beer is sold only at the table, that's why after you get into the tent, you have to find a table. And don't be afraid of the crowd, waitresses will always help you to find one. In the tents there are not only excellent Bavarian beer, also you can get to taste the delicious Bavarian food. But don't forget to bring cash, because you can not pay with a credit card. There will be always traditional music in the background and the bands start around noon, so don't forget to memorize couple of Bavarian music to sing along with the crowd!
The major tents are sponsored by the main breweries of Munich, so you can taste their own brand of beers in each tent. You can get a liter glass jug (around 10 euro) which is called Maß and enjoy the special beer for Oktoberfest. The beer is quite strong (around 6% alcohol) so if you don't want to get drunk easily, you can also try Radler which is half lemon soda.
For food, there are several options for every taste. For a proper meal you can have Wiesn-Hendl (half roasted chicken) or Schweinebraten (roasted pork) with Knödel (around 15 euro). For appetizers, Obatzda (cheese with famous Pretzel and radishes which is around 5 euro) is the best option. There are also a lot of options outside of the tents which sells fish, sandwiches or Magenbrot which is a gingerbread.
Both locals and tourists wear traditional Bavarian dresses. For women, the dress is called Drindl which is a dress with a blouse underneath and for men, it is called Lederhosen which is leather pants with a shirt. When it comes to buying the traditional clothes, it is quite expensive. The prices are around 200 euro for multiple lengths and multiple colored clothes.
There is also a traditional "bow" trend which shows your relationship status. If you tie your bow on the left side, it means that you are single. The right side is for 'in a serious relationship', in front means you are 'virgin' and in the back means you are 'widowed'.
If you come to the Oktoberfest with kids, there are also other activities which do not include getting drunk :) You can also enjoy lots of rides and the roller coaster (around 5-10 euro)! There is always a show hosted as well as acrobatics show or fun games! Also, don't forget to attend "Trachten und Schützenzug" parade on the first Sunday of Oktoberfest! If you want to experience this "once in a lifetime" experience, create your trip on itinari now! :)
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