The Bucket List: Oktoberfest in Munich

The world’s largest beer drinking festival in the world should rightly be on your bucket list.

Why? You might ask….

Well, besides the awesome leather capri’s (that’s a lederhosen for you, gents) you get to wear, the numbers are absolutely ridiculous at Oktoberfest. With over 7 million people from all around the world descending upon Munich, Germany to celebrate King Ludwig I’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12th October 1810, and it turns out, it’s quite the party.

Held annually from mid-September through the first week of October, Munich becomes the crown jewel of Europe as people from all over the world travel here to get a taste of Munich’s best local beers.

If you want to know the history of it, the citizens of Munich were originally invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. And the event went off so well, it’s been happening every year since.

Sounds like a good time, right?

Let’s dive into the numbers before we talk about the sheer madness that is Oktoberfest.

Pretty good video from above. And if you’ve never heard much about Oktoberfest, this really helps paint the magical picture of what to expect when you show up there. That said, Munich is known for so much more than just Oktoberfest and should be visited any time of the year. Not just the three weeks when Oktoberfest takes place.

However, if you are planning an Oktoberfest trip, there are some things you should know….but FIRST! The numbers from the 2017 Oktoberfest…let’s dive in.

For Example. Oktoberfest 2017 by the numbers.

  • Surface Area of the festival: 420,000 square meters

  • Large tents: 14

  • Small tents: 20

  • Total seating: Approximately 100,000

  • Total visitors: 7,200,000

  • Beer drank: 6,900,000 liters

  • Wine: 94,795 liters

  • Sparkling wine: 42,526 liters

  • Coffee and Tea: 299,938 liters

  • Water and lemonade: 1,130,701 liters

  • Chicken: 549,899 units

  • Pork Sausages: 140,225 pairs

  • Fish: 44,320 units

  • Pork shanks: 75,456 units

  • Oxen eaten: 116

  • Calves Eaten: 57 units

  • Foiled attempts of mugs: 111,000 units

  • Letters sent from the Oktoberfest post office: 130,000 letters

  • Total electricity used: 2.7 million kWh

  • Total gas used to power generators: 220,489 liters

  • Total water consumed: 110,000 gallons (or about 27% of Munich’s daily value)

  • Lost property from Oktoberfest 2017: About 4500 items, including 1,000 articles of clothing, 950 identity cards, 570 wallets, 300 pairs of sunglasses, 400 keys, 480 mobile phones, 280 purses, 80 cameras, 100 watches, 45 umbrellas and walking sticks, 2 wedding rings, 5 laptops, two license plates, two french horns, a hearing aid, a pair of cuffs, a table tennis bat, a playboy magazine and a dog…

 Oktoberfest is insane!

Oktoberfest is insane!

So, that’s a lot to look at. Between the 7 million people that attend this festival over a three week period, you need to go into Oktoberfest with a good game plan. You can, of course, ‘wing it’ and hope for the best, but in my subtle experience, you really don’t want to find yourself drunk, wet, half-frozen, without a wallet and a place to stay….but I digress.

When it comes to Oktoberfest, you should really plan your trip to Munich at least 6 months ahead of time. Munich is great, but with any festival of 7 million people, you can probably imagine finding a hotel in the city center can be kind of a bitch….if you’re smart, you’ll book a trip about a year out, and at least have a place to stay. More importantly, you should go lederhosen (for men) or dirndl shopping (for women) about 6 months to a year out, too. I mean, you gotta look the part, right?

Bavarians (people from Southern Germany and around Munich) dress up in their lederhosen and dirndl and celebrate the marriage of King Ludwig I in spectacular fashion. There really is nothing better than drinking a stein and ‘Cheers-ing’ (known as a PROST!) with your best friends around you. That said, it’s never the goal of Oktoberfest to blackout. That was really brought in from the tens of thousands of tourists held over the three weekends. You’ll notice Bavarians can really keep their composure while drinking…..

Anyways, let’s dive into a few tips for Oktoberfest

1) Book your hotel ahead of time!

Don’t get caught in a hostel (or do) but don’t let yourself be fooled into choosing the camping option….you will want a hotel with a proper shower, especially after drinking all day

2) Dress the part!

You can and should purchase a traditional lederhosen or dirndl before the festival. They can be very expensive when purchased at Oktoberfest (or the other beer festivals held in Munich)

3) Use the buddy system and do as the locals do

Always go into Oktoberfest with a plan, and a backup one, too. You can get very drunk at Oktoberfest (thanks - no shit, Cam) and can lose your friends. Be aware, and have a plan to meet-up or at least know how and when to get back to your accommodations safely. Also, no need to black out at the festival. Take a tip from the locals and just ‘enjoy yourself.’

4) Don’t get too rowdy

Oktoberfest has 14 large tents and 20 smaller tents (plus anywhere outside) where you can drink….that means a lot of shenanigans can happen. Just remember, Oktoberfest is guarded by a lot of burly Bavarian men who literally do not take shit from anyone. Be careful and don’t get too rowdy or you will get roughed up and cuffed. Eeeeek!

5) If you stand on the table to chug your stein, you better finish it, or else.

Talk about a bucket list thing! If you are one of the brave souls who stands on the table in a tent of 10,000 people and plans to chug their whole beer, you better do it…or else you will be removed from the tent, escorted out or worse…if you fail, you will get vegetables thrown at you from all directions.

6) Oktoberfest is a fest! Go on some carnival rides and don’t just sit there and drink all day

Get out there and explore! Oktoberfest is a festival, not just a place to day drink. Go out on some rides, explore the grounds and really learn about the culture, too. Chances are you won’t need multiple days to drink all day, so get out there and have some fun, too.

Whatever you do, and however you do it, Oktoberfest should be at the top of your bucket list. Go with friends, plan it out (ahead of time) and make sure to have a blast, and at least have some memories you can remember. Just remember to act your age, kinda - and be sure to smile.

Don’t just do it for the gram, either - do it for the culture, the tradition, and the sheer enjoyment of being at the biggest beer drinking festival in the world surrounded by people from nearly every country in the world!

P.S. Don’t forget to PROST!

Hope to see you there in 2019!

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