The Munich Oktoberfest is held over 16 to 18 days in the final weeks of September and early October and is regarded as the largest beer fest in the world, attracting up to 6 million visitors annually. However, it is common for most German cities to hold a similarly styled annual beer fest, Munich’s is so famous because of its scale! Attendance numbers were down in 2016 due to the ‘collective terror anxiety’ but with the addition of a perimeter fence and extra security staff, the event on the whole is a very safe and remarkably trouble free event.

The ‘Wiesn’ as it’s locally known, has its roots in 1810 when the local population were welcomed to celebrate the royal wedding. The tradition remained and is held near the cities center on the Theresienwiese, the fairground, which hosts the more than fourteen beer tents (some with a capacity of over 10,000 people) and a large number of other attractions which gives Oktoberfest a theme park atmosphere. Alongside the beer tents you won’t be able to miss the bright lights of the rollercoaster’s, bumper car rides, Ferris wheels, food stalls selling everything from pretzels, bratwursts, the ever popular roast chicken and the traditional Lebkuchenherzen or Gingerbread hearts with writing on it.

A day spent inside anyone of the tents is an unforgettable experience, the atmosphere and comradery is electric and depending on the week (certain weeks are more popular with certain European nationalities) you attend you’ll meet anyone from locals, to French, Italians, Australians, Americans, British and a few Kiwi’s among many others! By the end of the day after enjoying the local fare, you’ll more than likely be standing on your table raising your 6th or 10th stein and toasting “Prost!” as you sing along to local and popular English songs being belted out by the tents band!

Organizing and booking your Intrepid trip to Oktoberfest

As with any popular world-class event, planning and booking well in advance can save you a lot of hassle and money; this is particularly true when it comes to flights and accommodation. These are the two main bookings you need to make in advance, as there are no tickets required to enter the Oktoberfest grounds or tents (assuming your group decide not to reserve a table).

It is highly recommended that you book your flights to Munich as early as possible (i.e. 6 months if possible) as they can get very expensive in the lead up to the event. In an effort to minimize travel expenses it may also be worth considering flying into nearby cities such as Stuttgart, Nuremberg or Salzburg and taking the train as the rail and bus network in Germany is exceptional.

It would be wise to book you accommodation at the same time as your flights. The cheapest option is to camp, but if you book early enough you can secure spots in quality hostels that offer some creature comforts after a big day. Even if you book early a hostel is likely to cost €40-50 per day and you’ll likely have to pay upfront too. Check the availability at the following hostels Wombats, Meininger or A&O München Laim. AirBnB is another option as many locals leave town during the festival and rent out there apartments.

If you are venturing to Oktoberfest as part of a large group, as many do from London for example, then it might be a good idea to book a table in one of the tents which will mean you won’t have to line up early and battle for the limited number of unreserved tables each morning. The tables can be booked through the Tents websites where you can choose from a range of menus and of course you’ll also receive bar service during the day!

How it works, what do I need to know?

If you have decided not to reserve a table, your group is too small or you have come at the last minute after reading this review…then don’t worry, you’re almost in the majority! It is very typical to line up in the early hours of the morning, (between 8am and 11am) outside the tents and then rush to secure an unreserved table (ones without the signs saying reserved) when the doors open. It is quite important to secure a spot on a table as otherwise the waiter/waitresses won’t serve you and you can’t buy bier or food otherwise.

If you are too late or miss out on a table, then you can try another of the lesser popular tents or you can simply remain in the line until you are allowed in. When the tents are full, they are closed to prevent overcrowding and a policy of ‘one in one out’ is observed. It’s worth noting, that if you’re lucky enough to secure a spot on a table then you’re best to stick to that tent that day as Oktoberfest is too popular to be able to wander between tents experiencing each.

A day of drinking and eating will likely cost you around €100 as the liter Steins cost about €10, (prices have been increasing steadily) and it’s a good idea to eat during the day too otherwise you’ll end up on a park bench somewhere in town sleeping it off later in the evening… Also make sure you tip your waiter/waitress as they’ll expect approximately a 10% tip otherwise you might find you don’t get served so often…

Do I need to wear the traditional Costume?

Technically no, but when in Rome why not aye? The vast majority of people entering the tents, maybe 90%, make the effort to dress up in the Lederhosen for the men and Dirndl for the women. These can be brought for about €60 in Munich or online in advance. It’s a great souvenir and you’ll likely need it the following year as you’ll want to go again and again!!

Websites of some of the bigger more popular Beer Tents

Marstall, Armbrustschützen-Festhalle, Hofbräu-Festzelt, Hacker-Festzelt, Festhalle Schottenhamel, Schützen-Festzelt, Löwenbräu-Festzelt, Paulaner Festzelt, Käfer Wiesn-Schänke, Bräurosl, Fischer Vroni, Augustiner Festhalle.

It  is one thing to read about Oktoberfest, but quite another to experience it for yourself, it’s an amazing experience and one you’ll likely get addicted to and want to return to the following year!

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