Sweet, delicious flowing beer!
What better way to celebrate an old royal wedding, than with the 16 to 18 day beer-chugging elegance called Oktoberfest?
With an unlimited amount of beer guzzlers, pork knuckle choppers, beer wenches and drunk BFF’s singing David Hasselhoff at the top of their lungs, you’re sure to love the chaos of the 200 year old festivities.
History of Oktoberfest in Germany
On October 12th, 1810 the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig (later crowned King Ludwig I) and Princess Therese on the fields in front of Munich’s city gates. In honor of the new Princess, the fields were named “Theresa’s meadow” which translates to “Thereienwiese” or “Wies’n” for short. Horse races concluded the event which the whole state of Bavaria celebrated.
Upon the horse races triumphant return the following year, Oktoberfest was officially born. Later the festivities were moved to the end of September and early October to account for better weather conditions.
About Oktoberfest, Germany
What: Oktoberfest in Germany is the world’s largest fair.
When: The festival lasts for 16 to 18 days from late September to early October. Tents open at 9:00 a.m on weekends and 10:00 a.m. on weekdays. The last beers are sold at 10:30 p.m. with tents closing at 11:30 p.m.
Where: Oktoberest is held in Munich in the state of Bavaria located in the southeastern part of Germany. Continuing with tradition, the festival is still held at Wies’n park in-between the major roads Theresienhohe and Bavariaring. Munich has the second largest airport in Germany with many connecting international flights. When you arrive, catch a 40-minute train to the city center that departs from the airport every 10 minutes.
Why: Most people attend Oktoberfest for the entertainment and drinking. However the festival was formed to celebrate the royal marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese.
Who: Over 6 million people from around the world attend the celebration annually. However, mini-Oktoberfests are held all around the world.
Price: Entrance to all tents is free without needing any tickets. However, it’s highly recommended that you make reservations in advance as finding a seat can be very challenging. Reservation books require the purchase of food and beer coupons.
- Mid-range accommodations: $150-200
- Meals: $15-20
- Bottle of beer: $5
Climate: September to October receives average highs from 57-67°F (14-19°C). lows from 40-48°F (5-9°C) and 2-3 inches (65-86 mm) of rain.
Oktoberfest Beer, a registered trademark, is that which is brewed within Munich’s city boundaries and is served at the festival. On average, over one liter of beer (just under 3 12-ounce beers) is consumed per attendee.
Different tents serve different beer produced by local breweries. There are 14 large tents and 21 small tents in the park that are collapsed after the event. For the simplicity of this article, we’ll only cover the large tents.
- Hippodrom (serving Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu Brewery) is one of the largest and most popular tents attracting traditional oom-pah music lovers and even celebrities.
- Armbrustschützenzelt (serving Paulaner Brewery) is next to Hippodrom and mean “Crossbowman’s Tent.”
- Hofbräu-Festzelt (serving Hofbräu München Brewery) is a party animal tent popular with Americans, Australians and New Zealanders.
- Hacker-Festzelt (serving Hacker-Pschorr Brewery) is another large tent that plays rock music.
- Schottenhamel (serving Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu Brewery) is an important tent as it kicks off the festivities on the first Saturday at noon when the mayor taps the first keg. Thereafter, all other tents can serve beer. It’s popular with the younger crowd.
- Winzerer Fähndl (serving Paulaner Brewery) another fine tent recognizable by the huge tower of beer on top.
- Schützen-Festhalle (serving Löwenbräu Brewery) is a newer tent built in 2004.
- Käfers Wiesen Schänke (serving Paulaner Brewery) is the celebrity of tents with it’s late closing hours of 12:30 a.m. (unlike the other tents that close at 11:00 p.m.) and extra delicious food.
- Weinzelt (serving Nymphenburger Sekt and Paulaner Weißbier Brewery) is a wine lovers paradise with more than 15 wines being served.
- Löwenbräu-Festhalle (serving Löwenbräu Brewery) is another good tent featuring a beer sipping lion.
- Bräurosl (serving Hacker-Pschorr Brewery) features more traditional music and a yodeler.
- Augustiner-Festhalle (serving Augustiner Bräu Brewery) is a locals favorite serving Augustiner beer from wooden kegs rather than steel vats.
- Ochsenbraterei (serving Spauten Brewery) is for the meat lovers looking for a good ox dish.
- Fischer Vroni (serving Augustiner Brewery) serves delicious beer and excellent fish dishes.
What’s the perfect compliment to beer? Food! Vendors sell traditional German dishes in and around the tents including:
- Hendl (chicken)
- Schweinebraten (roast pork)
- Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock)
- Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick)
- Würstl (sausages)
- Brezn (Pretzel)
- Knödel (potato or bread dumplings)
- Kasspatzn (cheese noodles)
- Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes)
- Sauerkraut or Rotekraut (red cabbage)
Insight From An Insider
The beer tents are packed with long benches and narrow tables. You’ll feel like a sardine in no time and by the end of the day, chances are you’ll have made ten new best friends.
Beer ladies (wenches if you prefer) will come around and take your order for food and beer. The beer ladies will return carrying upwards of five beer steins in each hand. Stay out of their way! The full steins are really heavy and those poor girls are working hard. Sometimes they’ll blow a whisle to let you know their coming.
Bring cash to pay for everything as it makes things much easier down the road.
Each tent is equipped with toilets, but be prepare to wait in line. Also, bring extra toilet paper.
You can stay in your tent or opt to visit another one, however chances are you won’t get a seat if you move around a lot.
Outside the tents are vendors selling food and souvenirs, more toilets, and fun family rides and activities.
Many people wear matching shirts to help keep their groups coordinated and together. It’s also a good idea to schedule meeting points in case you get separated from your group.
Overall, be smart and safe, but have fun and try to get to know the locals. That’s why you’re traveling, right?
- Arrive at the tents early in the morning to claim a good seat.
- Bring extra toilet paper as the bathrooms can quickly become a mess.
- Bring cash. It will make your life easier.
- Expect to be served a beer without having a seat. You must be seated in order to, well, order.
- Leave your items unattended while you scout around for food, toilets, and other activities.
- Smoke in the tents. As of 2010, the popular activity of smoking was banned in the tents. There are designated smoking areas outside the tents for your convenience.
- There are 100,000 seats in the festival’s halls. With over 6 million visitors each year, don’t expect a lot of elbow room.
- In 2010, roughly 4,000 items were reported lost, including wedding rings.
- Almost 70,000 pork knuckles were served in 2010.
Feature Image Credit: zhaffsky