In preparation for this year’s event we have reached out to our network of bloggers to ask for their best recommendations for Oktoberfest 2015. It can be daunting arriving at a festival so ingrained in a country’s identity, so swotting up on all the key questions is important. What should I wear to Oktoberfest? Which is the most atmospheric tent? How much does a ‘stern’ of beer cost? What days should I visit? All these questions and more are answered by our knowledgeable festival experts.
This year’s Oktoberfest takes place in Munich from September 19th until October 4. The largest folk-themed festival in the world is a key German attraction and an important date in the Bavarian calendar. It’s popularity continues to grow and attracts thousands from across Europe that descend on the city each year. The two-week festivities are hosted annually in a meadow that lies just stone’s throw from Munich’s attractive town centre. Over six million people visit Munich’s Oktoberfest and it is estimated that the party-goers consume over seven million litres of beer. Oktoberfest, like other festivals, often pushes up the price of accommodation in a city. At Wimdu we still have several accommodation options that are available to book throughout the festival.
“Emma Raphael left the UK for Copenhagen in 2009 with her ever-patient husband and two small children. Having enjoyed a couple of years of the Scandi lifestyle (and at times extreme weather conditions), Emma and her family found they enjoyed Expat life so much that they now reside in Munich, where the pace of life is relaxed, her language skills are small, and the mountains and bier halls are very very large.”
If you are coming to Oktoberfest, you really need to dress the part. Whilst guys can get away with checked shirts and jeans, girls really will feel out of place if they aren’t “dirndl’d” up! There are strict rules on how the bow on the apron is tied by the way, so be careful not to make any mistakes! Tie it to the left if you are single, right for spoken for/married and at the back if you are sadly widowed. Tying it at the very front is highly suggestive – you have been warned!
Don’t underestimate how huge the tents can be – some are the size of football pitches, so make sure you have a decent meeting point for friends or you might not see each other at all. If you aren’t lucky enough to have tables booked (most are booked at least a year in advance) then you really must turn up super early to even stand a chance of getting a seat and a bier! If you stand on a bench during the day, you are signalling to everyone that you can down a litre of bier in one, and there will be huge peer pressure on you to do so! If you don’t think you can manage it, don’t even attempt it. Standing on the benches at night is purely for dancing, and never ever stand on the table no matter what time of day!
Do make sure you keep eating as the bier is stronger than you think, and the food is a huge part of the celebrations anyway. Choose from giant pretzels (great for soaking up all that liquid) roast chickens, plenty of bratwurst, cheese and meat platters, and my favourite (and perhaps most traditional) stekler fish (barbecued fish on a stick). Prost! And before you leave, if you can stagger over all the bierleiche (literally beer corpses – people who obviously didn’t eat!) then make sure you climb up the hill to stand by the statue of Bavaria herself, the sight of Oktoberfest stretching out beneath you is mind blowing!
“Dani Heinrich. originally from Germany, left her home country in 2006 and has been nomadic since 2010, when she quit her corporate job and embarked on a road trip through the U.S. What was intended to be a one-year trip turned into an indefinite journey, and with the motto ‘One Globe. No Regrets’, Dani has now traveled through over 50 countries on four continents and has no plans to stop any time soon.”
Oktoberfest is one of Germany’s biggest festivals – more than 6.3 million people visit the world’s largest beer festival in the span of 16 short days, which means nearly 400,000 people roam Theresienwiese, where Oktoberfest takes place, every day. This is just to give you an idea how busy the festival is – good planning is absolutely essential if you want to get a table in one of the 14 beer tents without having a reservation.
y number one tip for Oktoberfest if you want to snatch a seat inside one of the tents it to get there either at 10am when the tents open or just before 5pm, when the second round of ticket holders is allowed into the tents and the first round has to leave their tables. During those times you’re most likely to get a seat, even more so on a weekday. Don’t be shy and ask people to join their table – Oktoberfest is all about the shared long beer tables, and drinking and singing together! The popular tents like Hacker Tent, Paulaner or Löwenbräu tend to fill up fast – try lesser famous tents like Schottenhamel or Bräurosl and you’re more likely to get a seat.
Another tip for first-time visitors: book your accommodation early! Hotels usually book up months before Oktoberfest starts, but with growing popularity of apartment rentals, you might want to consider renting an apartment or a room in an apartment. Other towns close to Munich worth looking into are Fuerstenfeldbruck, Landsberg am Lech, Dachau Freising and Starnberg. Not only are you more likely to find a room or apartment there, but you’ll also pay less than in Munich.
Last but not least – a word on the beer itself: Don’t forget that Oktoberfest beer is at 6% – 7% – stronger than most other beers. These are served in large Steins that hold 2.2 pints. Drinking and driving is always a bad idea, but I wouldn’t recommend going to Oktoberfest by car anyway, since trying to find parking can turn into a nightmare and public transportation to Theresienwiese is excellent.
“Caroline Eubanks is a travel blogger that focuses on city breaks, cultural travel and working abroad for millennials This native Atlantan spent four years at university in Charleston before choosing a life of perpetual travel. After a summer volunteering in Thailand and sailing in Croatia, she made the move to spend a year in Australia. It was there she went bungee jumping, scuba diving and even held a koala.”
Oktoberfest is a crazy time in Munich, but can be very fun with the right amount of planning in advance. I went to the festivities in 2012 with a friend who was living in Europe at the time. I had no idea what to expect, but thankfully I had a good experience. Munich itself is well worth the visit for its history and public parks, not to mention the famous beer gardens.
Traditional attire is worn by locals, but not really expected by visitors. If you do want to don the garb, known as the dirndl for women and trachten for men, you don’t have to spend 300 euro on it. Shop around at vintage stores in Munich to find it for less, namely Kleidermarkt.
And when it comes to visiting the tents, I recommend skipping the weekends and crowded opening day in favor of weekdays. This will be more laid-back and you won’t have to deal with all the lines. Use this as an opportunity to eat and drink until lunchtime and tour attractions later in the afternoon when everyone else is at the festival.
“Liv Hambrett is an Australian writer currently living in the far northern German city of Kiel. For the past few years, as a combined result of travel lust and human love, she has lurched around Germany, living in three states and learning a great deal about the Germans along the way. Her blog is home to the stories of making a home, and now raising a family, on the other side of the world.”
So you’re in Munich for Oktoberfest, and although you’ll probably spend a great deal of time drinking litres of beer and eating Brezeln and Haxe with tourists from Australia and Italy, you might also have a day or two to check out the city itself. It’s worth it. The city you’re in is so much more than a beer festival, even though Oktoberfest has come to be one of Munich’s most iconic features. So, peel off your Dirndl or Lederhosen, put down the beer for a second, and come and see Bavaria’s jewel, the mother of medieval cities in a state renowned for medieval cities.
- Munich’s Marienplatz is the the centre of the city’s stunning Altstadt. Grab a coffee at one of the many cafes spilling onto Marienplatz – it won’t come cheap, but it will give you an excellent vantage point to soak it all in. There you can sit and admire the Neues Rathaus, and hopefully catch one of the Glockenspiel’s famous performances – they run at 11am, 2pm, and 5pm. You’ll also be able to take in the sight of Mariensäule (Mary’s Column)
- For those looking to spend an afternoon wandering through galleries and museums, browsing book stores, or kicking back in the vast expanse of the Englischer Garten, then head to the neighbourhoods of Schwabing and Maxvorstadt. You may want to pack your surfboard – the Englischer Garten offers the unique experience of ‘urban surfing’ which is as interesting to watch as it is to try.
- Schwabing is home to Ludwig Maxamillion University, giving this area both its stately academic vibe and youthful energy. Students and young families fill the cafes and shop in the boutiques on Hohenzollernstrasse and the tree lined Leopoldstraße. And it isn’t just trees that line the latter, bars and restaurants do too. If your visit coincides with a Bayern FC match and they just happen to win, this is where you’ll find the revelry.