Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, Bavaria at the beginning of autumn. What awaits you at this biggest beer festival and what is an absolute no go?
Basically, there are two kinds of visitors to Oktoberfest .
- The Funfair type-visitors prefer fun attractions ranging from classic carousels to adrenaline free falls and wild roller-coasters. They would satisfy their hunger and thirst in small stalls and halls along the entire site. These are mostly families with children.
- Culinary type-visitors they even don’t enjoy the ride on the giant Ferris wheel (Riesenrad), they just come with a bunch of friends to eat and drink in one of the big halls.
I visited Oktoberfest in 2010 for the first time. I was supposed to write an article for a Slovak newspaper. I had a small backpack and didn’t know before that that is a big mistake. Thanks to this fault I could not even just peep into the big tents and at least for a moment feel the true festival atmosphere. This article should help you avoid similar mistakes.
A wedding celebration that turned into a folk feast and the largest beer festival
Theresienwiese (Therese’s meadow) is an open space of almost 35 hectares, about two kilometers south of the main railway station. Most of the year, it is empty. Twice a year, however, the gravel concrete site comes alive. In the spring, it is filled with carousels and food and drink stalls. In the autumn, during two weeks at the turn of September and October, the largest folk holiday has been held here for more than 200 years. Originally, it was just the feast on the occasion of the wedding of Crown Prince Louis I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. If you get lost and don’t want to be identified immediately as a foreigner by local people, ask just for „Wiesn“. The native Bavarians never use the name “Oktoberfest”.
O‘zapft is! (It is tapped!)
This shout has been heard since 1950 on the first Saturday of the feast, when the Mayor of Munich taps the beer barrel in the hall Schottenhammel exactly at midday. While Thommas Wimmer needed 19 hammer blows, the later mayor Christian Ude managed it only with two. However, it is a public secret that he first trained it under the supervision of a professional brewer.
To enjoy your drinks, first, someone must bring them to you. Waitresses and waiters together with breweries present themselves in a parade on allegorical cars. The best places with the best view cost € 24.50
Food & Drink
Oktoberfest is definitely famous thanks to its beer. Millions of liters are consumed every year. But not only lovers of this drink will be satisfied. Wine and champagne are also available. You should also taste the Bavarian cuisine and I am sure you will not regret it. The organizers also think of vegetarians and vegans.
What you need to know
You should remember the term “Maß”. This is the basic unit of Oktoberfest drinking, used since the 19th century in Europe, which means a 1.069-liter-glass of 5.9-%-beer. Its price increases from year to year, currently (2019) -10.80 to 11.80 euros. 1 liter of wheat beer (Weissbier) costs up to 15.90 euros. Non-alcoholic drinks and mineral water are not cheaper – Spezi (a German alternative to coke) costs 11.75 euros, lemonade 11.30 euros and mineral water 12 euros!
A “Krug” is a classic half-liter-glass and can be found in any of the dozens of stalls here.
You will find the detailed price list here: Oktoberfest2019.de
If you want a souvenir, do not take the glass cup (you can be fined!) but buy or order a stoneware mug for 18 euros.
Festzelt – the name comes from the old tradition to celebrate the feast in real tents. Today, there are 17 wooden halls in the Theresenwiesen area instead of actual tents. They belong to the breweries from Munich, including Hofbräu , Löwenbräu , Augustiner , Pschorr , Hacker, Paulaner and Spaten
Marstall , one of the most popular halls for prominent visitors, replaced the famous Hippodrome in 2014. That’s why it is also expensive, a menu is about 40-50 euros. And if you prefer champagne to beer, you can order a bottle for almost 300 euros!
Fischer-Vroni is a fish oriented hall. Ochsenbraterei comes from 1881, when a bull used to be roasted here on a special grill. Weinzeltis suitable for those who prefer wine to beer. The youngest hall is named Zur Schönheitskönigin – (At the Queen of Beauty)
If you are not familiar with the brass music or the special German folk music (“Schlagermusik”), just listen to these samples before you visit Oktoberfest.
The group VoXXclub recorded this special clip for Oktoberfest.
Cordula Grün song by Die Draufgänger is one of the most played Oktoberfest songs.
You can find the complete overview of all large halls, including booking options on the official website: .Oktoberfest.de . It is necessary to order one of the offered menus. You don’t pay for a seat.
Pure adrenaline rush on carousels and roller coasters
You may not want to sit and just eat and drink for long time, but want to try any adrenaline-rush activity. There are about 20 different attractions – not only a children’s railway, but also bumper cars, roller-coasters or towers with free falling.
The roller coaster Olympia Looping and the 80-meter-tower Skyfall with free falling belong to the favourite attractions.
On the world’s largest portable roller coaster with a length of 1250 m, the cars reach the speed of over 100 km/h.
This year, there will be 8 new attractions, including the 430 m long roller coaster Heidi . You will start the ride at a height of 13 m. There will also be a children’s Pirate Island and the over 300 m long log flume Poseidon .
For all attractions see this page..
It’s ideal to arrive at Munich by train and get off at the terminal Munich Hauptbahnhof (the main railway station). First, you will avoid parking problems and second, you don’t need to take care of your alcohol consumption. From here, you can walk or take the subway.
If you decide to walk , it takes about 20 minutes. Leave the railway station and turn right to the Bayerstrasse. After about 500 m, turn left to the Bavariaring.
If you decide for the subway, take the U4 or U5 lines in the direction to Theresienwiese . It is only one stop. If you arrive from the city center, take the U3 or U6 lines and get off at Goetheplatz -stop (this is the south entrance to Oktoberfest). Check the subway ticket prices here.
September 2019: € 2.90 one-way ticket, € 6.70 all-day ticket, € 12.80 all-day ticket for a group of 2-5 people.
If you arrive at Munich by car, , keep in mind that there is no visitor parking area. The city center is usually hopelessly jammed. If you stay at a hotel, definitely use its car park. If you come for one day only, choose one of the Park + Ride car parks. Most of them are near subway stations. You can find detailed information on the interactive map .
The Ten Commandments or what you should never do!
- Never but really never try to stand on the tables! It is only allowed to stand on the benches.
- Don’t be stingy, give tips. Although waitresses get 90 cents per glass, gratuity is an important part of their income.
- Oktoberfest is not a carnival. Better come in a T-shirt and ripped jeans than in some “funny” costume.
- Before your visit, check how many beers you are able to drink. It’s better to drink slowly than to finish your visit too early or worse, with alcohol poisoning.
- It is forbidden to bring your own food into the halls.
- Do not drink your entire drink at once. It is tradition that somebody stands up on the bench and downs the glass in one. If he manages it, he gets a massive applause. If not, he is booed. It’s better to enjoy your drink than to lose your face.
- It is not allowed to urinate or even vomit on the grass outside the tents. The fine is € 100.
- Public sex can cost you a lot of money – at best, you will end up with a fine of € 1000, but you can also get a one-year prison sentence!
- It is also very expensive if you make a taxi car dirty – € 1500 plus the cleaning costs.
- Don’t use the public transport without a ticket, you can be fined for € 60.
Beer tent opening hours: here
Oktoberfest is a good opportunity for local and foreign visitors to put on a traditional Bavarian costume – Tracht (for men) and Dirndl (for women). It is not only the case of fashion. The bow on a lady’s dirndl will tell you more about the wearer:
- Bow left – she is single
- Bow in the middle – her relationship is not your business!
- Bow right – she is married, engaged or in love
- Bow in the back is worn by widows, waitresses or kids
If you want to know more about Bavarian folk costumes, do not miss the regular Sunday march (September 22, 2019 from 10:00), which is also broadcast by the state television.
If your bag or rucksack is larger than 20 x 15 x 10 cm, there are storage options at the entrances – for a small fee. Baby buggies can also be parked there because you are not allowed to come with a baby carriage either on weekends or on working days after 6 pm.
There are 12 ATMs in the area and in the halls, they accept both Visa and Mastercard.
If you did not find an answer to your question, read our article about 30 things you probably didn’t know about Oktoberfest and don’t hesitate to leave your comment.
Text: © Copyright Robert, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Robert, Travelpotpourri