Oktoberfest is the world’s biggest beer festival, attracting more and more visitors to Munich, Germany each year. Hailed as one of the best tourist attractions within Germany, the festival celebrates beer to the highest levels. Taking place between mid-September and early October, you can taste a variety of beer during the annual celebrations. Around 7.3 million litres of beer later, it’s safe to say that Oktoberfest continues to be a worldwide hit. This year, Oktoberfest is running from 22nd September until 7th October. There is so much going on at the festival that we know how easy it is to become overwhelmed. Luckily, with our guide to Oktoberfest, you can brush up on your knowledge before you head out there!
An introduction to Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest began with the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in Bavaria on 12th October 1810. The locals in Munich were invited to the festivities following the wedding which were held on the fields in front of the city gates. Ever since then, the festivities have continued. The exact origins of how Oktoberfest came about are still vague and controversial. But the continuation of annual celebrations has no doubt influenced it.
One of the golden rules of Oktoberfest is that any of the beer that is served at the festival must be brewed in Munich. Moreover, it must follow the Reinheitsgebot, otherwise known as the “German Beer Purity Law”. This includes a set of rules and regulations which dictate the ingredients which can be used in the beer. Currently, there are six breweries which both brew their beer in Munich and conform to the Reinheitsgebot. These include Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten-Franziskaner.
Oktoberfest is a great time to get into the local spirit. The majority of visitors will be dressed up in traditional Bavarian clothing. Men would usually be wearing lederhosen, a felt hat and knee-length socks, whilst women wear a dirndl and apron. But, make sure you’re not wearing any open-toed shoes. Due to the amount of people that will be around, as well as the fact that there might be a lot of dancing and jumping about, you will want to make sure your feet are well-protected.
One of the images you may have of Oktoberfest is revellers sitting in tents drinking beer and having a great time. That’s because a huge part of the festival revolves around the 14 main beer tents. Each one has its own character and presents a different vibe for each particular crowd. Here are some of the some of the main tents and what you can expect from each of them:
- Marstall – This tent generally holds just over 3,000 people and it’s only a new tent to the festival. Giving off a young, hip and modern vibe, it’s attracting more and more people. You can also get vegetarian food in the Marstall tent.
- Armbrustschützen-Festhalle – One of the most popular and traditional tents, it’s been hosting a crossbow competition since 1895. Moreover, it has space for around 6,000 inside and 1,600 outside.
- Augustiner-Bräu – As one of the most authentic tents, this is the one that the locals love and favour the most. This is also the only tent that serves beer straight from the barrel.
- Hofbräu Tent – One of the biggest tents, you’re in for a huge party here. Holding 10,000 seats. With a fantastic barbecue as well as tons of litres of beer, the Hofbräu Tent attracts a lot of English-speaking tourists, mainly from the UK, USA and Australia.
- Hacker-Tent – This tent is best known for its big painting of the sky and clouds on the ceiling which is in fact a convertible roof.
Top Oktoberfest tips
As you might expect, Oktoberfest is one of those events where you’ll find yourself drinking the whole day. So, when it comes to surviving the festival, there are plenty of tips to keep in mind to make the most of your experience.
- Line your stomach – First things first, the beer at Oktoberfest is known to be strong so it is always wise to start the festival off with a good-sized meal. You can always wait until you’re at the festival to grab a bite but expect to pay double the price!
- Re-hydrate – It is always good to hydrate yourself once you’re done for the day. You’ll thank yourself the next day, that’s for sure!
- Set up a meeting point – The grounds of Oktoberfest are massive, so it is very easy for your group to get lost and separated. If this is the case, it’s always good to have organised a meeting point so it’s easy to find each other.
- Use cash – During Oktoberfest, it is just easier for yourself and the server to deal with cash.
- Get a table early – If you arrive at Oktoberfest late (around midday), it will no doubt be very hard to get a table. This is important because a lot of the time you won’t be served if you’re not sat down (except in the Hofbräu Tent).
Munich is easy to get to and very accessible. Check out our cheap holidays where you can bag some great deals on flights and accommodation. Oktoberfest’s grounds are based in Theresienwiese, which can be walked to from the main train station of Hauptbahnhof. In addition, the nearest U-Bahn is Theresienwiese.
Opening day: 12:00pm – 22:30pm
Weekdays: 10:00am – 22:30pm
Weekends and holidays: 9:00am – 22:30pm
Käfers and Weinzelt tents stay open until 01:00am.