Oktoberfest is the biggest traditional folk festival in the world.
Each year more than a million tourists visit Munich during the festival to enjoy the excellent Bavarian beer, traditional food, and music.
Here’s our beginner’s guide to Oktoberfest to help you navigate it like a pro.
What is Oktoberfest? And how it started?
The locals call it ‘Wiesn’. Why?
The very first Oktoberfest took place on 12th Oktober 1812 in Munich, Germany to honor Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage.
Munich’s citizens were invited to join the festivity which was held on a field on the city’s outskirts. In honour of the new-wed princess it was named Theresienwiese (Theresia’s meadow). Oktoberfest is still celebrated in the same place as some 200 years ago.
The original Oktoberfest was alcohol-free but is now one of the world’s largest beer festivals. Today, the 16-day beer festival is still going strong, hosting 7.2 million visitors in 2016. It is celebrated with traditional German food and a fair that includes games and rides.
When is Oktoberfest?
Don’t get confused here. Oktoberfest is only named so, because it ends in October. It starts in mid-September and lasts about 2.5 weeks ending in early October.
Check the official Oktoberfest page for more info.
Where is Oktoberfest?
The most famous Oktoberfest is in Munich. But it’s not the only Oktoberfest. If you want to have a low-key Oktoberfest, there are a lot of them held throughout Germany.
How much does it cost to enter?
It’s completely free to enter. Well, of course you’ll be paying for food, beer, and any rides or souvenirs you purchase, but attending itself is completely free.
Do a little bit of research beforehand and get a rough idea of what each of the 14 tents is like as you probably won’t try all of them. While each tent represents a different beer there are some that are wilder than others. Here’s a great guide on tents and will help you choose the appropriate one of you.
What to wear?
Dirndls, worn by women, are the tradition Bavarian dresses with jackets or scarves and heels. Lederhosen, worn by men, are the traditional Bavarian overall-type-shorts usually with a colored dress short underneath and long socks.
Here are a few tips for buying your outfits:
- DO NOT buy Dirndls and Lederhosen right before or during the festival. These outfits can be quite pricey.
- Take advantage of the sales after the Oktoberfest. For example, if you plan on attending the festival next year, then buy your outfits after this year’s festival when everything goes on sale.
- Check out your local fancy dress store, Amazon or Ebay.
Other Oktoberfest tips:
- Bring cash.
- You don’t need to reserve a table. There are non-reserved areas where you’ll make friends with strangers after a few beers.
- Bring a jacket or a wool scarf as it will get chilly in the evening.
- Wear comfy shoes – either ballet flats or block heels, the festival grounds are quite large to walk around.
- Explore the rest of the city! Munich is absolutely beautiful so don’t spend all of your time just in the tents.Munich is very walkable, with beautiful old buildings and a lot of casual outdoor eateries to take advantage of when lunchtime rolls around.
- Be happy no matter what tent you are in. It’s all the same dancing, cheering, and laughter everywhere, so have fun!
As they say in Munich, Prost!
Have you been to Oktoberfest? Share your tips and experience in the comments below.