The world's biggest folk festival it a great big tourist trap - but a fun one!! People come from all over the world! You'll meet tourists from everywhere - the ones wearing traditional Bavarian clothes might as well be over-enthusiastic Americans :-)
Anyway, Oktoberfest lasts around 3 weeks from the middle of September till the beginning of October. Please notice that accomodations will be booked out about a year in advance!
And what's Oktoberfest all about? It's a big fair (with roller coasters, food, souvenirs and everything) and many beer tents where the party is at! The tents open at 11 a.m. To get into one of the tents be there early (on weekends, let's say by 1 or 2 p.m.) if you wanna make sure that you'll get in! The waiters (they are all women in traditional dresses who can carry incredible amounts of beer!) are not allowed to serve you unless you are sitting at a table (however, they might still do so if you are lucky)! A Mass (liter) of beer costs € 6.80, plus you will be expected to tip them! The non-alcoholic alternative is a beverage called "Spezi". Snacks (like "Brez'n" = prezles) and real food (like "Händl" = chicken) is also served. A band plays mainly dumb German party music. The tents close at 11 p.m.
(For some more pics take a look at my travelogue!)
...but none of them are as expensive as Munich's. If you want to pay several times over the odds for your visit, while getting drunk on beer with other tourists, then the Munich Oktoberfest is just for you. There are, however, many excellent alternatives in Bavaria and Germany, all of which are much cheaper, more authentic, and with beer that is just as good as Munich's.
Fun Alternatives: Most of German's big cities have their own beer festivals at various times of the year, including Stuttgart, Berlin and Cologne. One particularly well recommended one is in Bavaria, two hours north of Munich in Erlangen, near Nuremberg. Erlangen is held in May, so the weather is better for all night drinking, the patrons are distinctly local, and the prices are much lower. It still gets big crowds, although not the millions that descend on Munich.
If possible, wait until the very last day of the Oktoberfest (usually the 1st Sunday in October) to buy souvenirs, as the prices will have been slashed to rock bottom prices.
Unique Suggestions: My friend very charmingly asked for samples of Herzkuchen at the stalls and she ended up getting a free one :-)
....Herzkuchen are the heart-shaped ginger cakes on a ribbon and lots of fancy icing
Fun Alternatives: Here's a pic of me, rather intoxicated & double-chinned, standing on the table in a beer tent at the Oktoberfest. All the new interns at Siemens had booked a table and got 2 beer & food vouchers. A lot of people book their tables in advance, which isnt a bad idea. :)
...and not a drop to drink. You can walk around and around, but without an admission ticket...you can't sit down in one of the big tents to drink any size of brew. Very disappointing. Not nearly as communal an experience with the exclusive seat license approach. More accessible were the carnival rides. Yawn.
Unique Suggestions: Take a high quality digital camera and shoot as many images of what's going on.
Fun Alternatives: Go to any one of the beer gardens in town. They are just fine. Even better is to go to Munich's city birthday celebration held in odd numbered years during the first weekend in June. Did that in 1999, and THAT was my Oktoberfest!
Here is a tourist trap. These drunk bastards will take your beer if you set it down!!..lol After my friends took off I went to the tents by myself and couldn't find anyone who could speak english until this guy next to me, Mark from New York asked if I was American. We hungout and drank our asses off! Good guy, he was about 6 miles from the twin towers when it happened.(sucks) But we still had a fun time while we were there.
Oktoberfest. SORRY! Maybe its because I was a little past my 20-something partying prime, but I was a little 'taken back' by Oktoberfest and its CRASS commercialization and ricockulous high prices (as opposed to ridiculous!) I'd recommend catching Oktoberfest in a small village! It maintains a tad more of the sense of what it must have been like back in the day, before the $10 beers, etc... I smelled more PUKE than beer, by the end of the night. NOT pretty...
Oktoberfest in September/October is a big party for tourists at Theresienwiesen EVEN IF there are lot of good parties/festivals for local people, too. The best part at Wiesn´ is a huge amusement park.
But ok, You need to exprerience it once. But the second time - better to visit STARKBIERFESTIVAL at Nockherberg during late March!
Food and beer prices at the Oktoberfest are much inflated with pretzels just outside the festival area half price of those in. Of course, if you spend six or seven hours there, you're bound to need some food too. ;) I love the spiral peeled raddish pictured.
If you're really dying for a good beer at Oktoberfest, skip the crowded beerhalls...hit the 'Beer Carousels', they serve delicious,cold Weiss beer and you don't have to wait forever! The carousel moves at a nice slow pace with the bar at the center...and, no, there are no horses to ride, sorry!
Most tents at the Oktoberfest are already closed early in the morning, because they are simply overcrowded. No chance getting in without a reservation...
Fun Alternatives: Last year, my friends and I decided to follow the advice of a local friend and tried an alternative: "Das Wiesnzelt am Stiglmaierplatz". Though it is not directly located at the Oktoberfest, it's just a few minutes away. The tent is located in the historic Löwenbräukeller and offers genuine Wiesn-atmosphere without the usual closing time, all other tents are bound to. There was an awesome band playing, literally around the clock (not like in the tents, where they take more breaks than actually play music). And when we were all kind of fed up with the bavarian ratatata music and up to party, we didn't even have to leave the place. In a seperate room upstairs is an After Party with hip DJ music and cool drinks. the best thing was that we could book our table online in advance, conveniently on their website at www.daswiesnzelt.de. I already made my reservation for this year, as I am definetly coming back!
The biggest tourest trap to me was the Oktoberfest festivities. Overcrowded and overpriced. It was a glorified carnival!! And the main experience to see during Oktoberfest is the beer tents, but it is nearly impossible to find a seat. It is better to go to a beergarden and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere while having one of Germany's beers. Avoid Oktoberfest if possible
Don't know if this is considered a tourist trap, but there sure were a lot of tourists there. Main tip: get their early! We arrived at 13:00 each day (last week of fest) and standing room only in the HB tent. Thanks to German efficiency, longest I had to wait for a beer was 5 min!
Unique Suggestions: Make friends. Talk to the locals and the not so locals.
Fun Alternatives: Sorry no pictures, didn't dare bring the digital into the tents.