Although there are plenty of others to discover throughout Germany, Oktoberfest is still the country’s premier beer festival. The Bavarian festivities will soon be kicking off, ushering in two weeks of fun and frivolity in the centre of Munich. Here is everything you need to know to enjoy this bucket list beer experience.
When and Where?
In 2018, Oktoberfest will take place from 22nd September until 7th October around the Theresienwiese area of Munich. Because of this, you may hear some locals refer to the event as ‘Die Wiesn’. Beer is served from 10am to 10.30pm on weekdays and from 9.30am to 10.30am on the weekends. The tents themselves will open earlier than this so that revellers can claim their seats. Other activities, such as the fairground rides, will stay open until midnight or later.
Why Does It Start In September?
It may be a strange irony that Oktoberfest starts in September, but this was not always the case. The first festival was held on 12th October 1870, but after a number of years, the date was moved forward so that visitors could enjoy better weather (hopefully). The longer, warmer nights give merrymakers the chance to enjoy themselves later into the evening without getting cold. The tradition of Oktoberfest always finishing in October still remains, though.
How Do I Get There?
Assuming you’ve already made your way to Munich, joining in with the partying is easy. The quickest way to get to the heart of the action is to take metro line 4 or 5 to either Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe station. Alternatively, you could take line 3 or 4 and get off at either Goetheplatz or Poccistraße, or use any line to get to the Hauptbahnhof and then walk a short distance to the entrance. Because of the size of the crowds, it may be best to take a less popular route and use one of the entrances other than the main one.
So What Can I Expect?
The Theresienwiese will be packed with 14 large tents and many more smaller ones, giving you a fantastic choice when deciding where to sample the atmosphere. Although not all of the venues look like traditional ‘tents’, this is what they are referred to as and each has its own vibe and activities. You can choose to reserve your table in advance (something you can do here) or simply try your luck in various different tents throughout the day. However, the most popular venues usually fill up quickly.
The festival is officially started when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg. This is done at midday on the first day to the cry of ‘O’zapft is’ (it’s tapped) and is the signal for all other tents to start the beer flowing. The ritual tapping is shown on live TV and is a key event in the festival’s calendar.
Just How Much Beer Will There Be?
A lot. Each tent will serve a certain brand, but all of them will give you a chance to taste the result of hundreds of years of Bavarian purity laws. If a tent is operated by a certain brewer, you can be sure that they will be selling that brand of beer. Most companies also like to distribute beer tokens that can only be spent in their own tent. So, if you plan to buy these make sure you stick to the same tent until you’ve spent them all.
Unfortunately, there has been an increase in beer prices for 2018, meaning that you will need to part with around €11 for a litre of the golden liquid. This price rise is due to the higher cost of rent being charged this year.
Is It All About The Drinking?
Definitely not. Whilst the drinking and socialising that comes with it are major elements of Oktoberfest, there is so much else to do as well. Along with the exciting fairground rides outside of the tents, there are plenty of other things happening inside.
Food also plays a big role, with many venues specialising in particular Bavarian dishes. For example, Münchner Knödelei serves up traditional dumplings, Zur Bratwurst focusses on different varieties of sausage, it’s all about cheese at Feisinger's Kas- und Weinstub'n, Heimer's Roasted Duck and Chicken is a culinary institute, and both Café Mohrenkopf and Café Kaiserschmarrn will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Aside from the food, there is traditional folk music and dancing, crossbow competitions, celebs to rub shoulders with and a costume parade on the first Sunday. Plus, if you aren’t a beer drinker, there are tents dedicated to local wine instead.
I’m A Regular. What’s New For 2018?
To keep things fresh, new attractions and activities are added every year. In 2018, there will be new rides in the form of Chaos Pendel, a spinning propeller with rotating seats at each and, and predator, a spinning wheel that twists and jolts in different directions. In terms of tents, Wellenflieger will offer a romantic atmosphere for couples with tables for two and mood lighting, whilst Dschungelcamp gives you the chance to challenge yourself on a jungle-themed obstacle course. Lastly, you can have your picture taken in traditional Bavarian costume or in front of a quirky backdrop at Hofphotograph.
When’s The Best Time To Go?
Due to its popularity, Oktoberfest is always going to be busy, but the Munich beer festival does have times when you’re more likely to get a table in the big tents. Mondays and Thursdays seem to have the smallest crowds, with Sunday evening being the best time to attend at the weekend. Naturally, Friday and Saturday evenings are peak times.
If you would like to attend this year’s Oktoberfest, there is still time for us to plan your last-minute break. Plus, if you would like to learn more about the other European beer festivals we have available, call us on 0800 988 3369 or contact us through the website.