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Munich Oktoberfest

Every one must have heard of Oktoberfest, which is Munich’s Bavarian beer festival and fair.  Oktoberfest is so famous that communities in the U.S, Europe and even Asia have created their on version of this historic annual event.  However we think most know about it and really want to go… but do not know what to expect.  

So WhichHoliday,tv has visited this festival, to research, so that our viewers have a greater understanding of what all the fuss is about.  It was the best research we have ever undertaken, thank you for the opportunity. So here are a few pointers;

Firstly, are you planning a trip for October?  Well if so you're going to miss it, or most of it.  It starts the third Saturday in September and is over by early October. In addition the festival only lasts for 16-18 days, so there is not much time.

Oktoberfest - WHTV

Oktoberfest Entrance – WHTV

It originated as a wedding feast fit for a prince in 1810, and apparently they had so much fun that it just kept going. On the first day, it starts with a colourful parade through town to the fairgrounds, the The resienwiese (called the Wies'n for short).  The Wiesenwirten, the breweries, have oompah bands and horsedrawn carts piled high with beer barrels.  The beer wagons and the draft horses are decorated, and there are lots of people marching and dancing along in traditional clothes.  If you're lucky enough to be there on opening day, dance along behind the parade and follow them to the Wies'n.

There are currently fourteen big beer tents set up by the breweries.  You can choose your tent by beer preference if you like; we've always just chosen a tent where we were lucky enough to get a seat!

It's free to get into the Wies'n grounds; you pay for food and rides as you go… and of course the beer.

Oktoberfest Fairground - WHYV

Oktoberfest Fairground – WHYV

Getting to the fairgrounds is easy…. There is public transportation.  It's right behind the Hauptbahnhof (the central train station).  Just follow the crowds!  Most of the beer tents open at 10:30 in the morning… a little early to start drinking, but you might want to grab a seat. It's harder to get a seat the later you arrive, and like big events there are corporate tables/reserved tables.  Don't sit there, but don't be shy, do squeeze in where you can and get friendly.  

In order to be served a beer at Oktoberfest, you must be seated. Don't worry if you can't get into a beer tent.  Each of them has tables outside, and it can be easier to get a seat there.  You can probably hear the bands from outside.

Octoberfest Steins - WHTV

Oktoberfest Steins – WHTV

Oktoberfest beer is potent stuff.  8 percent alcohol.  AND it comes in those 'Liter' mugs. Be sure to take plenty of cash, those beer toting beer maids don't want to stop to swipe your credit card!  There are ATMs at the Weis'n, but the lines get longer the busier the festival gets Drinking all that beer, you'll want to find a toilet.  Americans want to look for "restrooms", but you need to look for "WC" or "toiletten".  If you have a seat, make sure you leave a friend behind to keep it reserved for you, and if you leave a tent, it might be hard to get back in.

Walk around and see the rides and the rest of the fair.  There are plenty of food stalls outside of the tents, and lots of carnival type rides, both new and old style. The Weis'n is a big fairground.  The ground is uneven, and if you wander to see all the rides, you'll be walking a long way.  

The S-Bahn    WHTV

The S-Bahn WHTV

You'll be walking to get to the subway too, so wear comfortable shoes. It's very crowded, and you will probably get a little tipsy, so leave your valuables locked in a safe in your hotel.  By all means take your camera, but keep track of it.  

All the caveats about watching out for pickpockets apply, but when you're going to something like this, you should know that!

They close Oktoberfest at 11:00 pm or midnight, but they stop serving beer earlier than that….  It takes a while to drink that whole litre!  If you stay until closing time, it is a mass exodus to the subway (U-Bahn or S-Bahn)…. but the crowd is mostly friendly drunks. Reserve your room well in advance.  

Rooms will be more expensive during the festival and hard to get.  If you know what to expect and you do a little advance planning, and that September holiday to Oktoberfest should be lots of fun.

We loved it. 

Check out our feature on Beer Halls if you are travelling to Munich and do not plan to visit Oktoberfest.