It’s THE festival of the year and certainly THE greatest Volksfest in the world. So, if you want to come to Munich to experience Bavarian tradition at its peak, you’re making a good choice for a lifetime experience! But, you better be prepared, the Munich Oktoberfest is not a tea party! You need to know a few basic things that will help you make the most of your visit to Munich’s biggest Wiesn party.
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One of a kind beer festival
It is said that the Munich Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest! And that hits the nail on the head (as we would say in German)!
Munich Oktoberfest is the world’s most spectacular beer festival and quite one-of-a-kind, attracting millions of visitors from near and far every year. I’ve been a returning visitor quite a few times myself, and sharing some of my basic Oktoberfest knowledge is an excellent start to get you in the mood and going!
It’s the festival of festivals and simply something to experience!
If you’re planning to visit the Oktoberfest in Munich and think you are ready to lift a one-litre beer glass or if you still need a push to decide to go, then you should continue reading this post…
1. At the Wiesn
The Wiesn is the vast area where Oktoberfest happens. It’s called Theresienwiese, but locals refer to it as the Wiesn.
At the Wiesn, you will find many giant beer tents, food stands, an enormous amusement park with water slides, merry-go-rounds, labyrinths, bumper cars, and a lot of more fun entertainment!
And of course, no one shall walk hungrily across the Wiesn and to be honest, you should come with an empty belly. There are just too many food stands offering Bratwurst, Bavarian Schmankerl, Leberkaes, Hendl, Fish, sweets, and so much more! At the Wiesn, you feel like you’re in the land of milk and honey.
2. The beer tents
The Oktoberfest lasts for about 16 to 17 days, and it is an everyday celebration! With people, you may know, and with people, you may not know. But, it’s a celebration that brings people together: the young, the old, the wild and shy.
If you’re lucky to have a reservation for one of the tents, then congratulations; this is like a lottery win! It’s usually really, really hard to get a reservation. But if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone and you get somehow invited, consider it as a lucky draw! I don’t want to scare you away, but getting into a beer tent one needs patience!
Here is my advice for all weekend visitors: get up early and queue! Tents open at 10 am, and if you want to get in, you should be at the Wiesn around 8 am. It sounds crazy, and yes, it is, but believe me, I’ve been there and standing in line to wait for the doors to open actually how you get in.
This still doesn’t get you a table, though; you will have to find an empty space or share a table with other people. Remember: don’t be rude or pushy only to get a seat. Instead, be respectful, people generally come to enjoy the Oktoberfest, and they want to have fun.
One more thing: once you’re in a tent, stay in!
Which beer tent offers the best experience?
Well, if you don’t have an entrance ticket, you don’t have a choice here, and you will be just happy to get in any of the big tents! Most tourists at the Wiesn prefer to go to the Hofbräu beer tent; Americans, Australians, Italians, Canadians – you’ll undoubtedly find a very international mix there!
My personal favourites (if you want to consider one of those) are the Schottenhammel or the Hacker Pschorr beer tents.
But in the end, whichever beer tent you’re able to get in, it’s all about having a grand and cheerful celebration!
3. Bavarian Food and Drinks
It’s the land of milk and honey! So here we go, and that sounds like going to the Munich Oktoberfest! You can get everything Bavarian to eat that your heart desires at the Wiesn. And there’s plenty.
If you want to start the day with a typical Bavarian breakfast or snack, then order Breen & Weisswurst! A Bavarian Weisswurst is a white sausage flavoured with parsley, onion and lemon (the flavour mix can vary), and it gets heated in water. Cut the Weisswurst in half alongside and peel the meat from the skin. Usually, you dip the meat into sweet mustard (this is delicious) and take a bite!
At the Wiesn, you will not only get Breen and Weisswurst; there’s plenty of good food at every corner of the beer tents! My favourite is the famous Wiesn Hendl, a half roasted chicken and a sweet Kaiserschmarrn as desert! Well, look around and check the menu; it’s all unique and damn delicious!
As it’s a beer festival, let’s not forget to talk about beer. The six biggest breweries in Munich sell around six million litres of beer throughout the Oktoberfest period, which is exclusively delivered by the breweries Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten.
The beer is being served in 1-litre beer mugs and costs somewhere between 9€ and 10€. Take your pace drinking; a day at the Oktoberfest is long, and you don’t want to be game over after the first two hours.
They also serve Soda, Water or Radler (a mix of Soda and beer) in case you need a beer break.
One important thing to remember: the Oktoberfest is NOT a BYO event!
The beer tent owners want to make money, of course, and bringing along any drinks from outside is just not allowed. You may risk being kicked out immediately if you disregard this rule.
The famous beer sing-a-long, which gets played by the bands in the beer tents quite often, is easy to learn, and you will pick it up quickly. The text goes like this:
“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit. Ein Prosit, ein Pro-osit, der Gemue-tlichkeit!”
Just raise your glass and sing along with everybody else in the tent!
4. Lederhosen & Dirndl
Well, what can I say: the outfit is essential and every accessory that comes with it, too! It’s boring to go in your regular clothes when everybody else wears Lederhosen or a Dirndl. So be prepared and dress appropriately for Oktoberfest; you don’t want to feel the only one who doesn’t wear a Lederhosen or a Dirndl.
If you don’t have a Lederhosen or Dirndl, don’t worry, there are outlet stores all around the city centre where you can still buy your traditional costume for an affordable price.
5. Gingerbread hearts – Lebkuchenherzen
Oh, I love those! Gingerbread hearts are the perfect souvenir or gimmick to buy for someone you love, adore or have a crush on. People wear the hearts around their neck and wouldn’t want to eat them straight away.
There are plenty of stands at the Wies’n (or even inside the beer tents) where you can buy a gingerbread heart in all colours with sweet quotations like “Ich Liebe Dich” (I love you). So get one if you have the heart to give away!
The experience is often different (it can end too soon for some). However, be aware that it does get crowded and prepare to see many young people lying exhausted in the grass around the Wiesn.
But most of all, it’s a festival for enjoyment, and that’s what you should go for, too! So enjoy Munich Oktoberfest to the fullest and with no regrets!