Beer, mouthwatering pretzels and live music, you can enjoy all this and much more at the annual Oktoberfest. It’s the largest beer festival that attracts visitors from all over the world. For a total of 18 days, you will find everyone from teenagers to old-timers doing one common thing, drinking 7 million liters of beer. For the first-timers, we’ve covered some of the things you might be interested in learning about the Oktoberfest.
First of all, let’s give you the history of the festival,
Not many of you know that the original Oktoberfest was started in the year 1810. It was held to celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. All of Munich’s elite was invited to join in on the celebrations that continued for 5 days. The festivities were such a hit that they decided to have it yearly and also prolonging it all the way to September adjoining the harvest time.
What happens during the festival?
Thereinweise (named after the princess) being the largest beer festival, hosts more than 6 million people including Bavarians and wayfarers. The 18-day celebration starts mid-September every year and finishes by the first week of October. The opening ceremony takes place at noon in the Schottenhamel tent where the mayor announces “O’zapft” while opening the first beer barrel.
This year the celebrations will commence on September 21st and end on Sunday the 6th of October. For the weekdays, the tents remain open from 10 am to 12.30 pm, while on the weekends they open an hour early and close by midnight. The Käfers Wiesnschänke’ – the log cabin and ‘Weinzelt’ – the wine tent, are open till 1 am.
Where is the Oktoberfest being held?
The fest will be held in Munich. When you arrive at the Franz Josef Strauss Airport, you’ll need to go to the Theresienweise grounds located about 41.8 km away from the airport.
What to expect and the best time to visit
You can expect plenty of locals and tourists enjoying their beer, delicious cuisines and singing at the Oktoberfest. If you’re a foodie as well as a beer lover, you should not miss out on the delectable treats being served at the festival. The savory items that are a must-try include; roast chicken, pork knuckle, sausages, and pretzels. If you have a sweet tooth, you must try the sugar roasted almonds and the beef flavored ice-cream. It gets a bit too crowded on the weekdays, so if you’re someone who prefers small crowds, visit on weekdays. The last week of celebrations attracts massive crowds so you can either choose to visit at the beginning or the end if you don’t mind crowds. Also, if you think Germany is too far away and expensive to visit, join an Oktoberfest near you. Be a part of the Oktoberfests happening all around the world. Enjoy any of these events, have a beer like you would at the original fest.
How to get Beer tent reservations?
Entry is free at the festival but reserved tables costs money, especially if you plan on bringing a large crowd. It is better to have reservations. There are a total of 14 beer tents that range in size, 6 of them are large ones that can house up to 12000 beer lovers. The most popular ones are “The Hofbräu Tent” (a high energy tent and internationally well-known), “Schottenhamel” (the largest and oldest one), “Hacker Pschorr” (hold a mix of locals and visitors) and “Augustiner” (most suitable for big families). Each of the 14 tents has different procedures for booking, reservation and their sale dates vary as well. The bookings open by February/March through the online reservation system. If by some reason you weren’t able to book online, try to join the last-minute attendees and booking your tables then. Also to note, bigger tents have long waiting lines. It might help to befriend someone who can make you enter with them. If you can’t choose a tent, try visiting a few and then go for the one you liked the most.
What to do at the beer festival
You can dress up in traditional costumes, dirndl (pronounced DEERN-dul), dresses for women and lederhosen (Pronounced LAY-der-hozen) and shorts for men. If you’re visiting just for the beer, go ahead and help the Bavarians finish their 6 million liters of beer. Try to not get drunk, you can try some of the heavenly Bavarian food being sold by the food stalls placed around the beer tents. Inside the tent, let yourself loose, make acquaintances, join in on the local german songs and dance in groups if you like. Beer isn’t the only alcohol being served at the fest, there are some wines and champagnes that you can try out. There are some quite petrifying roller coaster rides for those of you who get bored with beer and food and want some excitement. You can also play games like sausage sculpting contest, stein race, and giant chess after you’ve enjoyed the beer, music, and food.