Oktoberfest in the capital of Bavaria is fun, especially if you travel there with a bunch of friends. Munich offers a lot of other exciting things, and combined with the world’s best folk festival, the city break here can be unbeatable. Here are the tips you need to get started with planning.
Some history and numbers about Oktoberfest
The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 in connection with the marriage between Crown Prince Louis of Bavaria and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The area the party is held in is hence called Theresienwiese, named after the princess. The inhabitants of Munich like to shorten both the party and the scene to just “Wiesn”. It is said that the folk festival, which at the time had included a horse race, became so popular that the people almost demanded an annual repeat.
Today’s version of Oktoberfest is the largest of its kind, attracting over 6 million visitors from around the world. The guests consume over 7.5 million liters of beer, they lose over 4000 passports, keys and glasses every year, and try to grab an unknown number of beer glasses, of which 120,000 of them are confiscated at the end.
A typical program for Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest usually starts on a Saturday at the end of September, and lasts for 16 to 18 days, up to and including the first Sunday in October. In 2018, the date for the start shot is Saturday 22/9 at 10.45, while the final salute goes on Sunday 7/10 at 12.00. For next year, the corresponding dates are 21/9 and 6/10, respectively.
The opening day starts with the holders of the various tents having a parade through the center of Munich. Then the city’s mayor drops the first beer seide section at 12.00 inside the Schottenhamel tent on the festival site.
The first Sunday, the costume parade is always held through the city center, which is considered the highlight of the Oktoberfest. During the rest of the festival period, there are several different events, both for adults and families. This includes church mass, concerts, amusement park and much more.
On Sunday, when Oktoberfest ends, salutes are fired from the steps of the Bavaria Monument. Then the fun is over for this time.
When and where can I drink beer?
You have probably seen pictures from Oktoberfest, and know that it goes in large beer glasses , accompanied by ompa and schlager music. That part takes place inside the tents that are open between 10.00 and 23.30 on weekdays. On weekends, the tents open at 09.00, and close at 24.00. Traditionally, there are also a couple of tents that are open until 01.00 at night. The beer service usually closes an hour before people have to leave.
You do not have to pay entrance fees to the tents, but you can pay for a food and drink package that gives you a reserved seat. It usually pays to have a reservation, because the tables are guaranteed to be full throughout the evening. Note that most tents require you to be a group to reserve seats.
Read this blog about the best cities for beer lovers.
The tents at Oktoberfest
The fun at Oktoberfest takes place in a total of 15 tents of various sizes, and on their respective outdoor areas. In addition, there are a bunch of small tents on the site. Some of the small tents have beer serving and a small number of seats, but most serve mostly as fast food restaurants, bars or cafes.
The tent with the largest capacity is Hofbräu. There are about 6,000 seats inside, 1,000 standing seats, and 3,000 seats outside.
The smallest tent is Weinzelt with room for about 2,500 people. The tent’s name comes from the fact that after 21.00 wine and sparkling wine are also served in the tent.
De øvrige he Schottenhamel, Ochsenbraterei, Lövenbräu, Schützen Festzelt, Winzerer Fähndl, Hippodrom, Käfer Wiesn Schänke, Marstall, Hacker, Fischer-Vroni, Armbrustschützenzelt, Augustiner-Bräu and Pschorrbräu-Festhalle.
Each tent runs its own thing when it comes to serving food, what beers they serve, the type of music and who they would like as guests. For example, Schützen often has a more adult audience and a more cozy atmosphere, while Hacker caters to the younger and thirsty among us.
The beers you are served
You will not get Carlsberg and Heineken served at Oktoberfest in Munich, that is for sure. Here, only six breweries are allowed to pour beer, and all six are members of the Munich Brewery Guild. To become a member there, the brewery must be located within the city limits, and they must adhere strictly to the German Purity Act.
The seks bryggeriene he Löwenbräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Paulaner, Staatliches Hofbräu-Munich, Augustiner-Bräu and Spatenbräu.
Get to Oktoberfest in Munich
Lufthansa, Norwegian and SAS fly directly to Munich from Oslo in about 2 hours and 10 minutes. The shortest travel time with 1 stopover will be less than 4 hours. It is usually cheaper to fly directly, but then you usually have to book early, especially during the time Oktoberfest is held. Low cost airlines like EasyJet can be an idea to check out purely in terms of price, and sometimes the route flaps so that stopovers do not take too much time.
Find accommodation in Munich
It can be difficult to find a hotel room when Oktoberfest is arranged, so here it pays to be out early. Several of the booking services and search engines for hotels have their own pages that are dedicated to the party. The hotels that pop up in the search are all suitable for those who want to stop by, and most are within walking distance of the festival area.
Of course, these hotels are filling up the fastest. However, it is not a big problem to stay some distance away, as long as you choose a hotel that is close to a subway station, or can afford taxi rides to and from the party. There are even people who choose to live in the neighboring city of Augsburg, and opt for the ICE train that takes them to Munich in about 40 minutes.
Some useful tips
- If you want a reservation and VIP package for a tent, book several months in advance. The most eager start planning a year before they leave.
- Remember that most tents require that the reservation is for groups of at least 10 people.
- All tents have their own seating for those without a reservation. Arrive early if you want to use these, preferably before 12.00 on weekends.
- An alternative is to book a guided tour that includes reservation, food and drink.
- You may be rejected at the entrance to the tent if it oozes touristy from you, especially if you are intoxicated and noisy when you arrive.
- Oktoberfest will be more fun if you go for the full package also when it comes to the outfit. Men in Lederhosen, ladies in Dirndl.
- Bring cash. You will not be paid by card at Oktoberfest. There are ATMs in the festival area, but here the queues are usually laaaaaaaange.
- It usually pays to be generous with the gratuity. Also have some coins ready if you have to go to the serviced toilets.
- Do not bring backpacks and bags at Oktoberfest. If they are over 3 liters, you will not be able to bring them into the festival area.
- Bring identification. You can be stopped at identity check – Munich police take security during Oktoberfest very seriously.