How to visit Oktoberfest: a guide to Germany’s biggest festival
Are you ready for pretzels, roasted chickens and more beer in a few days than you’d normally drink in a year? Good, because that’s basically what Oktoberfest is ALL about! This is Germany’s biggest beer festival and to be honest, you really should visit at least once in your life (but you’ll want to come back, I promise). Decision made! But now what, how do you prepare for a couple of the wildest days in your life? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
When and where is Oktoberfest?
The official Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, in Bavaria in the south of Germany. This year, in 2019, the beer starts flowing on the 21st of September and will only stop on the 6th of October. If you’re looking to go next year, the festival takes place from 19 September to 4 October. Getting to Munich by train is very easy, wether you’re coming from outside of Germany or are already in the country. There are multiple trains per day from other big cities in Germany, but also from big cities in neighbouring countries.
If you don’t want to visit Oktoberfest in Munich, there are festivals all over the country in that period, for example in Stuttgart (Cannstatter Volksfest) but also in Berlin!
You’ve got to look the part
Personally I think this is the best part of the festival: you get to dress up! The dress for woman is called a dirndl, men wear the lederhosen. There are plenty of stores (also secondhand) around Munich that sell both in very broad price ranges.
But before you buy anything, please keep the following in mind: a traditional dirndl has a longer skirt. It’s supposed to go all the way down to the ankles. However, when you go shopping for one you’ll probably also see a lot of shorter ones. A good rule of thumb is to get one that falls at least over your knees. A shorter one is seen as a costume, worn mostly by tourists, and you’ll definitely get looked at by locals. Also, when you tie your apron, make sure to take the ‘status’ that comes with the placement of the bow into account:
- Bow on your left: single
- Bow on your right: in a relationship
- Bow on the front and centre: virgin
- Bow on the back and centre: widowed
A traditional lederhosen is fully made of leather, so they can get quite expensive. If you’re not planning on returning for another beer festival, you could also rent or borrow one.
Grab a table in a tent
Now, the most important part, so pay attention ;)! In contrast to what many people think, making a reservation for a table in a tent is NOT mandatory. All tents have a certain amount of tables that can’t be reserved and are free to take on the day itself for people that just walk in, also in the weekends. There’s one catch though: you need to be there quite early, because they fill up quickly! No, 8 o’clock in the morning is not necessary, but try do be there before midday, or you could be standing for the rest of the day/evening.
If you do want to make a reservation, find out when they go on sale. Even though the tents are big and fit a lot of people, those tables sell like hotcakes, especially the tables in the weekends.
Well, don’t wait any longer and order your first (of many) beers! And perhaps a half chicken with bread, or a pretzel, or maultaschen and many more specialties.
Don’t forget to walk around the fair and stalls as well! There tons of fun attractions and plenty of local foods and specialties to try.
- Book your accommodation as early as possible. If you don’t, be prepared for outrageous pricing and very little choice.
- Bring cash! In the tents they only accept cash, so make sure you bring enough. Most of the times there are ATM’s on the festival grounds, but there are (high) fees to take out cash.
- If you want to make a table reservation, make sure to do this when they get released. Check the website of the tent you want to visit for more information.
- Bring a plastic bag (like a trashbag) with you. When you’re inside the beer tent, put your jackets and other things in there. There’s a high chance of beer showers, so this way your stuff will stay dry!
Missed your chance this year? No worries, now you’ve got a reason to go Eurailing again in 2020 ;)!