Oktoberfest: The Best Fall Festival in Munich Germany

Oktoberfest: The Best Fall Festival in Munich Germany

So many beer tents, so little time. For two weekends through Unity Day, Munich plays host to Oktoberfest, the biggest beer festival in Germany. And believe it or not, there’s more to this annual world-famous festival than just getting wasted—Oktoberfest plays an important role in Bavarian culture and with over 80% of its participants coming from within Germany, a chance to celebrate a common heritage.

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The History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest actually began on October 12, 1810, due to the commemoration of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese’s marriage. The couple organized a great horse race in the field (popularly known as Therese’s field) where Oktoberfest is still being held to this day. Since the Crown Prince was very much interested in ancient Greece, the horse race was fashioned after the ancient Olympics. The events in 1810 proved to be such a hit with the locals that they decided to celebrate it annually.

Make a Reservation

Here is a brief list of some of the most popular beer tents at Oktoberfest. Entrance to all of them is free. For a complete list of beer tents, schedules, etc, etc., go to www.oktoberfest.de/en/.

Consider reserving a table beforehand by contacting the Oktoberfest beer tent directly. Reservations can be made by email, fax, letter, or phone. Make your reservations as soon as possible– some beer tents accept reservations as early as December. Many beer tents require a minimum of 10 people for one table. The reservation will be free-of-charge, but you must purchase food and drink coupons (usually for chicken and beer) in advance; these prepaid coupons are between 20 and 80 Euro per person, depending on the beer tent and time of day.

Did you know?

There are 6 Munich Breweries permitted to serve at the Oktoberfest beer halls: Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten and each stein holds 1 liter (33.81 ounces) of beer and generally costs 10 Euros.

Schottenhammel Tent

Dating back to 1867, Schottenhammel is the oldest tent at Oktoberfest – and some say the most important one. At 12 p.m. sharp on Oktoberfest opening day, Munich’s Mayor Christian Ude will tap the first keg and call out “O’zapft is!” confirming that the tapping was successful. It is only after this that all other tents may begin to serve beer.

Schotenhammel is the largest Oktoberfest tent with 10.000 seats and the place to party for young people. Beer Served: Spaten Franziskaner
Reservations: +49 (0)89 544 69 310

Hippodrom Tent

(www.hippodrom-oktoberfest.de)

This colorful beer tent is one of the first tents you will see when entering Oktoberfest. It is one of the hippest tents at the festival and attracts young crowds and local celebrities. Besides Oktoberfest beer, you can also sip on Sekt (champagne). Weekends and evenings are notoriously crowded and it might be difficult to get in, but you can also have a great time on a weekday afternoon at Hippodrome. Beer served: Spaten Franziskaner
Reservations: +49 (0)89 2916 4646

Hofbräu Beer Tent

(www.hb-festzelt.de)

The famous beer hall Hofbräuhaus in Munich’s old town has its own beer tent during Oktoberfest. With Bavarian Oompah bands and many guests dressed in traditional costumes, the Hofbräu beer tent is very popular among international Oktoberfest visitors, and you’ll find many American beer lovers here. Beer served: Hofbräu

Reservations: reservierung@hb-festzelt.de.

Augustiner Beer Tent

A great option for families, the Augustiner beer tent offers a friendly and relaxed atmosphere; Tuesday is “Kid’s Day,” and small guests can eat and drink at a discount. The music is very traditional, and many Muenchner considers this to be the best tent at Oktoberfest: True to its name, the favorite local brew Augustiner is served here. Beer served: Augustiner Reservations: +49 (0)89 23 18 32 66

Hacker Pschorr Beer Tent

(www.hacker-pschorr.de)

With almost 10.000 seats, Hacker is one of the largest tents at Oktoberfest. Its ceiling is painted with blue skies and white clouds; and because blue and white are also the colors of the Bavarian flag, locals like to call this tent “Himmel der Bayern” (Heaven for Bavarians). If you need a break from traditional brass bands, the Hacker tent is the right choice for you: in the evening, a rock band gets people dancing on the wooden benches. Beer served: Hacker Pschorr Reservations: +49(0)8170 73 03.

No Reservation?

Don’t despair! You can also visit the beer tents without having a reservation, just make sure to arrive as early as possible: During the week, come no later than 2:30 p.m.; on the weekend, mornings are the best with fewer crowds. If the beer tent is full and you have no reservation, you have to wait in line. You can also check out the tent’s open-air beer garden; the beer gardens don’t take reservations so you might be able to find a table there.

Dirndls and Lederhosen

Celebrating the Oktoberfest in style by wearing the traditional Bavarian styles adds to the festive occasion. Women wear Dirndls. This traditional dress even signifies a woman’s availability. A Dirndl has a bodice, blouse, full skirt, and apron.

The location of the bow or knot signifies a woman’s marital status. A bow on the left indicates being single, a bow on the right means she is married, engaged, or taken, a bow in the front/middle indicates a virgin, while a bow tied on the back means she is widowed. Men wear Lederhosen, knee-length leather shorts. And both men and women may don a Tirolerhüte, a traditional Bavarian hat made with a tuft of goat hair.

Shopping for Dirndls and Lederhosen

Shops all over Germany sell Dirndls and Lederhosen. A traditional Dirndl can cost 100 Euros, while a pair of Lederhosen leather shorts starts at 120 Euros. For more significant cost savings, consider purchasing your traditional wear ahead of time online or at large chain stores like C&A. Dirndls come in a vast variety of colors and fabrics, so it shouldn’t be hard to find the perfect Oktoberfest outfit suited to your taste and budget.

Festival Food

The Oktoberfest menu attracts many locals and foreigners alike. Oktoberfest tents serve different appetizing Bavarian specialties, so everyone can have a little taste of what each tent has to offer. Most of the popular foods in Oktoberfest are roast chicken, pork knuckles, traditional sausages, roast beef, and cheese. There is even a rotisserie for roasting ox, or if you prefer seafood, there is also grilled fish and salmon basted with butter on a 15-meter long griller rack.

For baked goods, try the giant pretzel or the heart-shaped gingerbread necklace. Even children will be thrilled with concessions peddling a variety of sweet snacks such as sugar glazed almonds, cotton candy, glazed fruits, and ice cream. The Oktoberfest foods are truly a feast for every visitor who attends the beer festival.

Children are Welcome

By the way, children are welcomed at Oktoberfest as long as a few rules are adhered to:

  • Children 6 yrs and younger must always be accompanied by parent/guardian after 8 pm outside tents. Inside beer tents, they must leave at 8 pm. Strictly no alcohol.
  • Children 6 to 15 yrs of age must be accompanied by a parent/guardian after 8 pm inside tents. Strictly no alcohol.
  • Children 16 to 17 yrs of age are allowed to stay after 8 pm, and they are allowed to consume beer.
  • Children 18 yrs of age and above have no alcohol limitations.

If you get bored with the beer tents, visit the giant playground featuring a 3D space and volcano exhibit, the Tower, Ferris wheel, water, and other amusement park rides.

Final Thoughts

ATM machines are located at the fairgrounds. However, the crowds make them hard to find and use, so bring cash.

If you plan to stay over in a hotel, book early. Munich’s public transport network will take you within minutes of the fairgrounds. Choose the train or subway which runs every 10 minutes until 2 a.m. on weekends and until 1 a.m. on weekdays during Oktoberfest. Theresienwiese is the closest subway stop to Oktoberfest. ‘U-Bahn’ underground trains take you directly to the Oktoberfest site.

Simply take the lines U4 and U5 which brings you directly to the northern entrance of Oktoberfest, or you can take the Goetheplatz and Poccistraße lines, U3 and U6 respectively, which are a 10-minute walk to the eastern/southern entrance of the Oktoberfest.

There are even two tram services, 16 and 17, which stop at Hackerbrücke, a 10-minute walk to the northern main entrance.

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