When you think of festivals the first thought which comes to your mind may very well be Oktoberfest! If you are going to Oktoberfest you must go to Munich. Any place else is a cheap imitation. Munich's Oktoberfest should be near the top of everyone’s bucket list, especially if you love to travel. It’s not just a European must do - it ranks up there as one of the world’s biggest parties! Where else can you drink from steins the size of your head, dance to oompah music and get away with wearing lederhosen?
In 1810, a horse race was held to celebrate Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s wedding. The jamboree was such a rip-roaring success that it became an annual event and morphed into today’s famously large and ribald party. The horse race was dropped in 1938, because everyone was only interested in one thing: beer.
The amber nectar is enthusiastically quaffed by more than six million Lowenbräu-lovers, from local, lederhosen-clad gents to gangs of ruffians. Sitting at long trestle tables with thousands of other beer monsters in huge, multi-floored tents, the international inebriants work their way through more than 6.5 million golden litres. The festival’s healthy diet also includes some 500,000 chicken, 104 oxen, and more than 50,000 pork knuckle servings.
The merriment begins with the Brewer’s Parade, which proceeds through the city centre from Sonnenstrasse to the festival meadow at Theresienwiese, nicknamed ‘d’Wiesn’ (dee-veezen). The lord mayor stands before the thirsty masses and, with due pomp, ceremony and a mallet, opens the virgin barrel by slamming home a wooden tap. He exclaims O’zapft ist!’ (It’s tapped!) and the crowd cheers, though they are possibly less impressed by the mayor than the buxom waitresses in laced bodices. Soon the waitresses will be doling out the Bavarian brew, drunk by the 1L Mass (tankard).
To make matters simple for those who have just consumed one pretzel and three steins, only one type of beer is available. In the paraphernalia-decorated marquees run by Munich’s major breweries, Lowenbräu (and friends) serve specially brewed ‘Octoberfest-Bier’.
More challengingly, you pay using special tokens sold by the tents and generally must be seated to get served. Negotiating such rules could prove tricky for drinkers on their way to becoming a Bierlichen (beer corpse), but such casualties will probably be busy with wildes Bieseln (wild peeing).
At the weekends, and after the first ceremony, it can be tricky finding a seat. But there’s plenty of entertainment that doesn’t involve glugging frothy tankards until oom-pah bands sound appealing. Just check out the sheer scale of the world’s largest drinking competition. It employs more than 10,000 people and has its own police force, lost and found office, childcare centre, fire brigade, consumer protection unit, baggage checkroom, post office, and first-aid station. It installs its own sewage system, power stations, U-Bahn terminal and, of course, 1000-plus Porta-potties.
At night, drunks blink confusedly at the dazzling carnival with its roller coaster and Ferris wheel. Amid the high-tech rides, a few nostalgic favourites have survived. There’s Germany’s last remaining flea circus, a fixture since the 19th century, and the Schicht’l Tent, where sleight-of-hand beheadings are a speciality. That’s one way to become a beer corpse…
Be certain to book your accommodations months in advance.
I can remember wishing for a trip to the Oktoberfest when I was a student, but term was always started (or about to start) at that time. In spit of its name, it was always in September - until it expanded to 3 weeks relatively recently.
So I made it at last in October 11.
A warm - hot actually - Sunday lunchtime. When the locals go, as opposed to touroids.
It is astonishing. First because the whole thing is huge. Then because the beer tents are enormous. And the crowds are big enough to match.
It is a funfair and not just about beer. But the beer is a big part.
I’m told that even on Sunday they queue up outside the beer tents at 9am before they open, and then there’s a stampede to get a table. You have to be seated to get served, so the table is very important.
You can book a “box” - like at the theatre - but apparently it’s very expensive and has to be done 3-4 years in advance.
Each tent is for a particular brewery and you will only get its beer there. Plus it will only sell 1 kind of beer - its Oktoberfest special. Then, you will only be able to buy it in a mass - the 1 litre dimpled glass. So forget about a wee 0.3cl, or a glass of wine, or a weissbier. No choice.
We started in the Paulaner tent - busy but bearable. Then we tried the Hofbräu tent - pretty wild. The noise is quite something - hundreds of people roaring, and the brass band playing in the background.
It was tough to get served, so we happily headed back to the station about 2.30. A 3 hour visit.
What else? We had a prosecco and aperol about 12 to wash down the late morning coffee/cake - also got us in the mood for alcohol.
We had a steckerlfische - a traditional volksfest speciality. Barbecued fish - mackerel in our case. Delicious.
Beer was €8.95. Say £7.50 per litre. Not bad by British standards, but expensive by local levels.
I’m really glad we went - it is special. But I’d not rush back.
Early on the first Saturday of Octoberfest the beautiful wagons pulled by strong horses begin to arrive in the Marienplatz area of Munich. If you are lucky enough to be there, you will see colorful costumes on the people who will be on the floats and wagons, and the horses are wearing special harnesses and colorful dressings made for them.
The parade begins at 10:00 and winds its way all the way to the Octoberfest area, complete with Bavarian bands of happy musicians and yodeling singers, and often the "hoy hoy hoooy" yelled out by the people on the floats.
If you are at the Rathaus you will hear the bands warming up and you can go and have your own personal concert, then go down to see the horses being staged and readied.
It is all quite beautiful and the people caring for the horses do not mind if you ask to have your picture taken with them.
This is a most enjoyable parade.
Octoberfest is opened by the sound of a beer keg cork being ejected, and the cheers of thousands of revelers who are ready to party BIG. However, these mostly under 30 thirsty people will soon find that there are no seats left in the big tents or buildings placed throughout the park. These structures can hold 6,000 or more people at one time, so one can see that on the first day there are just too many people wanting to party.
These folks, myself included, begin to wander through and around each tent and building trying to find a seat, which have been filled many hours earlier by people who know better. We arrived at 8:30 am and there were already lines outside forming. We saw many of these people bringing in plastic crates of bottles beer to use in order to get started partying. They knew that no beer is served until that first corked is popped by the official Beermaster of Octoberfest.
If this happens to you let me suggest that the Paulener Brewery has a wonderful Haus 15 minutes walking from Octoberfest (google Paulener), and of course you can go to the center of Munich to several large Beer Halls, Hofbrau Haus and Lowenbrau are two examples.
We ended up at Hofbrau Haus and there was music and fun. Later at Octoberfest seats could be found.....
Ok, I'm gonna be honest with this tip, since nowhere on VT this was said !!!!!
First of all in order to get into a tent at Oktoberfest YOU MUST HAVE A RESERVATION for whatever tent you want to get into !!!!!!!
no where did I read or did anyone put this in there tip or is it written in any tour books that talk about Oktoberfest !!!! So what happened to me......I make my way to a tent just to be told that if I don't have a reservation I can't get in !!!!!!
Tip # 2 can you get into the tent without a reservation ????? Yes you can, but you must be there when the doors open at 9:30 a.m. once it gets full you don't get in without a reservation !!!!!!!
Tip # 3 .....Give the guy at the door a 20 Euro tip and he'll let you in !!!!!!!! That's how I got in !!!!!!!!
Tip # 4 ... Once inside a tent, the only way to get a beer is you have to be seated......HOW IN THE HECK are you gonna find a seat among 5,000 people NO WAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tip # 5.... we offered a couple of guys to buy them a round if they would order us some beers for us.....again 9 Euro's a stein times 3 for the new found friend's and 4 for us that's 63 Euro's for 1 round of beers......that's $89 US (@1.40 US for a Euro) for a round of beers !!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDING !!!!!
Tip # 6 god forbid you don't tip the ladies a decent amount for the round of beers she brings you !!!!!! ..... You won't see her again the rest of the night..... Tipped the lady 10 Euro's and she looked like if I insulted her !!!!!!!!! So the round of beers ran me a cool Benjamin for those who don't know what a Benjamin is .... it's a $100 US DOLLAR BILL !!!!!!!!
Is it fun insided yes, loud, crowded, but since it get's so expensive the fun gets cut in half.
Next time I decide to come to Munich I will come at a date that there is no Oktoberfest !!! All the prices come down and hotels don't charge as much !!!!!
Great that I did this but won't do it again, too much of a hassle to have a little bit of fun !!!!!!
October Festival held in Bavarian capital is the biggest beer festival in the world. It is held at Munich every year from end September to early October. The 2009 Munich Beer Festival was inagurated on 19 th September and shall end on 4th October. So, please don't miss the festival this year.
This magnificent festival was started by Prince Ludwig on 12th October’1810. Earlier horse riding competition was also a part of the festival. From 1960 onwards, this became a global festival. 12 Rockets are fired into the air to mark the beginning of the festival. There will be large number of beer tents, food tents, souvenir shops etc. at the festival ground.
Special beer, which is darker and stronger than normal beer is brewed for this festival. The Mayor of Munich city inaugurates the festival tapping the first barrel of beer. The Mayor says “Ozapft is” which means it is tapped. Then there will be music everywhere. Only breweries from Munich are allowed to sell beer here. Beer is served in glass mugs of 1 liter capacity specially made for this occasion. The cost of beer and souvenirs have gone up slightly. Now one mug of beer costs Euro 8.50/-(Mugs to be returned). Souveir mugs are priced arond Euro 30/-.Grilled chicken/fish are the favorite dish during the festival.
This festival is attended by over 7 million people from all over the world.. Many of the Germans coming for this festival wear the traditional dress. Traditional dress for men are named “Sennerhut”. Traditional women’s’ dress is called ““Dimdl”.
The Oktoberfest is a sixteen-day festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany during late September (and running to early October). It is one of the most famous events in the city and the world's largest fair, with some six million people attending every year, and is an important part of Bavarian culture. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event.
Oktoberfestbiers are the beers that have been served at the event in Munich since 1818, and are supplied by 6 breweries known as the Big Six: Spaten, Löwenbräu, Augustiner, Hofbräu, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. Traditionally Oktoberfestbiers were the lagers of around 5.5 to 6% abv called Märzen - brewed in March and allowed to ferment slowly during the summer months. Originally these would have been dark lagers, but from 1872 a strong March brewed version of an amber-red Vienna lager made by Josef Sedlmayr became the favourite Oktoberfestbier.
Oh yes. We went with a group of some 9 guys, and took the train to munich from nuremberg. You can feel it in the atmosphere, the trains are packed with rowdy people, mostly in fun loving spirits, although some ppl go over.
Its quite popular to
a) dress in team outfits, representing your country
b) dress in traditional leather pants for men, and wonderful bosom german dresses for the ladies AWESOME!!
We arrived at 11 am, but still found the Hippodrome (one of the most popular tents) to be full! we waited in line (possibly the wrong one) and found ourselves rushing from one entrance to the other, and all tabes taken. we receded and agreed to look for another tent. by then everything else was taken. by luck, we found a tent outside (it was awefully hot!) and started on the masses, smoked cigars, and talked, and enjoyed the wonderful day, (hard to come by in germany summer 2007), talked with some italians.
try to book a table ahead. a lot of people seemed to have done that.
Provided you're not so drunk that bad things will happen, you should check the other side of Oktoberfest - the Carnival!!!
There's tons of rides, games, food, all the standard amusements that a state fair or Six Flags would have. Although everything is a lot of money to do. of course.
The best ride is really not a ride, but more of a humorous entertainment is the Spinning Wheel, aka Teufelsrao (or something). Imagine a giant turntable about 20 feet wide in a small arena with foam bumpers around the edge. Imagine an announcer calling "all men wearing liederhosen" to climb on board. Imagine the thing spinning, faster, faster and grown men flying off left and right. If that's not funny enough, then imagine the few remaining men being bombarded with a giant bean bag on a pulley and being hooked by ropes to try to pull them off.
It's 3 euros to get in, and you can just watch, or you can partake. They call up different categories of people - all girls, guys, couples, wearing leiderhosen or not... etc...
Take it from me though, a bean bag in the head really hurts - especially after 10 hours of drinking.
There are about 15 beer tents to choose from at Oktoberfest, and of those a few really unique ones (like the Hippodrome). They each have their own character and style - I'd recommend reading up on the tents before you go:
so that you have an idea.
-The Hippodrome was really swanky, but also smaller and hard to get into.
-Fischer-Vroni smelled like fish. I couldn't even get past the door.
-Spaten Schottenhamel did us well for the 12 hours we spent in it one day
-one of the Lowenbrau tents gave a us a really fun evening our first night.
They all have music, beer and food all day long. The music gets better and more consistent as the day/evening goes on. They open at 10am, they stop serving beer around 10:30 or so (later on weekends)
The party really starts in the evening, but if you don't have a reservation at a tent, it may be impossible to get in in the evening. Our group staked a table at 11am, and we sort of rotated in and out all day, with someone always there to save the spot.
If a tent gets really crowded, then you might not be allowed back to your seat even if you just leave the section to go pee. We found that flashing some cleavage worked. (men, don't try that, please!)
On the weekends the entire tents get so crowded they are completely closed to newcomers.
Moral of the story - get there early if you don't have a reservation. Make sure someone saves your spot if you want to leave and come back.
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