Did you know that around seven million people visit Munich from all over Germany and the world to attend Oktoberfest? That the Bavarian capital of Munich makes an estimated £1.8 billion from the famous beer festival?
These numbers may seem overwhelming and I was determined not to be one of them, thinking it was some sort of tacky drink-a-thon for tourists.
How wrong I was! Believe it or not Oktoberfest is an authentic, well organised and generally fantastic event, that fully deserves its position as one of the most famous world festivals. As long as you follow these tips for getting the most out of Oktoberfest. Think of it as a kind of first timers guide to Oktoberfest and have fun!
Get there early to do your research and get a table
We flew into Munich in the afternoon and sent a couple of our party to recce the tents at Oktoberfest. There are 14 tents and each has its own style of decoration and entertainment so do some research. We decided on the happy Hippodrom tent and never regretted our choice.
The reason for a beer festival in October is because medieval brewers discovered that the best tasting beer was brewed in late winter or March and stored in ice caves but then needed to be drunk in autumn to make room in the wooden casks for the summer batches of beer! So Oktoberfestbier is a strongly-hopped Springtime style.
What started out as an excuse to polish off the leftover beer got a new lease of live in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig threw a fabulous wedding party for the people of Munich. The setting was in fields just outside the city gates, which were subsequently called Theresienwiese (Theresa’s meadow) after the bride. Apparently 40,000 Bavarians came to the party and a new tradition was born.
Only breweries within the city of Munich are officially able to brew Oktoberfestbier. Others making a similar beer must call it ‘Oktoberfest-style’.
Don’t stop eating
You may not have heard this but the food at Oktoberfest is as good as the beer. Civilised Europeans always eat while drinking alcohol and the Bavarians have come up with some delicious snacks over the centuries to go with their fine beers. From giant, soft pretzels to the many varieties of fine sausages; from whole baked fish and roasted chicken with salads.
It is essential to keep on eating throughout the day and you’ll be able to keep drinking on into the evening. There is table service for the food and you can usually order beer with the food, saving you from queuing.
A big reason why we had such an amazing time at Oktoberfest was down to the welcoming Bavarians who were sitting at the same table as us. They taught us the necessary drinking songs and had us dancing on the tables with them by the end of the night.
Set a budget
Entry to Oktoberfest is free but a stein of beer costs around €10 and with accommodation and flight prices soaring during the Oktoberfest period, you should make sure you know how much you are willing to spend. Bring enough cash to the tent.
Enjoy the entertainment, Oktoberfest is not all about drinking but also about socialising, eating and enjoying the local entertainment, specifically the Oompah bands and comedy sketches.
Take a break and go to the fun fair
Let me say it again, Oktoberfest isn’t just about drinking beer. Lots of people just come to enjoy the atmosphere and the Fun Fair! There’s a huge range of rides for all ages, from simple carousels to more thrilling experiences. Take a look at the traditional ‘Krinoline’ carousel and make sure you go on a ride that takes you high above the Oktoberfest and Munich, the views are awesome.
Similarly to the Brussels Beer Weekend, there are beautifully decorated traditional beer wagons on display, pulled by wonderful horses.
Spend some time in Munich
Munich is one awesome city at any time of the year and the atmosphere during Oktoberfest is especially fun, with participants dressed in dirndls and leiderhosen to be seen everywhere. Spend some time walking through the historic centre and appreciate the medieval architecture and history.
See a bit of Bavaria
Bavaria is one of the most beautiful regions of Germany and it would be a shame to go home without seeing some of the sights. We took a day coach trip from Munich that visited the famous village of Oberammergau, as well as the stunning castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof – both built by the ‘mad’ King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
Have fun at Oktoberfest!
By Natasha von Geldern
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