Not going to lie here - you better like drinking at least a little bit if you're going to Oktoberfest.
That being said, Munich, Germany's biggest beer drinking festival in the world isn't ALL about getting shit-faced and making a mess of yourself. It's about the culture. Now, before we get into the whole fold of 'Why you should go to Oktoberfest' let's hit some stats.
- Oktoberfest is held in Munich, Germany on the 103.88 hectare acres (that's a HUGE space)
- Is traditionally held from mid to late September into October
- The very first Oktoberfest was held on October 10th, 1810
- It's one of Munich's FOUR beer festivals (one for every season) and is easily the largest
- It is a traditional celebration of Bavarian culture, food and a time to celebrate the large harvest
- Today, there are 14 large (10,000 person) beer drinking tents
- There are 20 smaller tents
- All beer drank at Oktoberfest is traditionally only German-made (there are some exceptions, fuck you Sam Adams, you swashbuckling copycat)
- All that German beer must meet the standard of quality set by Germany itself - beer is actually considered a quality food in Germany due to the incredible tough standards of ingredients each beer must cover
- There are approximately 100,000 seats at all the combined tents throughout Oktoberfest
- Last year, approximately 6,900,000 liters of beer were drank (169,200 liters of NON-ALCOHOLIC beer too)
- There was 94,795 liters of wine drank last year (2016)
- There were 116 oxen, 57 calves, 549,899 chickens and 75,456 pork legs consumed at Oktoberfest 2016
- There were 1,000 clothing items, 950 identity cards, 570 wallets, 300 eye glasses, 400 keys, 500 mobile phones, 2 wedding rings, two laptop computers and two license plates recovered at the end of Oktoberfest 2016
Pretty crazy shit, right? Well - having been once before, I feel like I can muster my way through the rest of this blog post. But the point is, if you've been - you know. If you haven't - you need to make it a priority.
Munich in any other time of the year is plain and simple AWESOME. Such a magical place to be in the Spring (feels like New England, kinda) but more importantly southern Bavaria gets warm in the summer and snow in the winter. Making Munich the place to be for all four seasons.
With that said, during the three weeks Oktoberfest is held - expect a bit of a different vibe. People from all over the world come to party there for those three weeks. Most of them English speaking too. The Germans have typically figured out the English, Irish, Italian, Aussies and Americans came to drink - so they've got their own tents deemed for locals only. Don't worry about trying to find those, they are actually off the Oktoberfest grounds and are seriously hard to get into?
Beerfest anyone? There's actually a lot of truth in that movie.
Leave the Germans be - if they're at the tents, they want to party. If they're not, well get the hell out of their way!
Alright - so...if you're still reading this, you're in. You want to know more. So let's hop to it.
When you get to Munich, know that Oktoberfest lasts 21 days and you really only need a full day at the tents to 'get' it. So take your time - and for chrissakes, pace yourself!
Get to the tents early. Wherever you are staying in Munich, you need to make time to get up early and get to the lines before everyone else. If you get stuck outside the tents, you'll spend 2-3 hours waiting there for people to get out. Especially in the morning. People tend to either drink in the morning, or from 2pm on. So, if you're going to do a half day, then seriously make it a half day. But you'd be SO surprised at just how fast time flies when you're in there. Seriously - it's dangerous.
Also, super important - make sure to bring EUROS! The Germans are smart, they've strategically priced it so it's easier to tip them. Most steins (liter beers) are 9.35 euro, so you end up tipping the women carrying 14 of them all at the same time. God, those ladies must make a ton of money...
Now, you have 14 large tents and 20 smaller tents to potentially go through. So, how do you know which ones are the best? Pro tip: it all depends on who you're with. Make sure you're with a likeminded crew who wants to go as hard (or as little) as you do. Just make sure you're on the same wavelength going in.
Plan the dive, dive the plan!
That being said, it's ok for the group to split up sometimes. You're going to cover more territory that way too. Just make sure to have your phones on so you can text each other and meet back up later.
Now, which tents are the best? The Hofbraus tent and Augustiner tent are my two favorite large tents, while the Hippodrome and Paulaner tents also have a special place in my heart. But, will you make in there in time? It's up to you to cover them all. Once you're in a tent, you'll get a feel for the vibe and will certainly know when it's time to leave. If you're meeting people, eating good food and time if flying by, then stay! If you're ready to move, then hop around some more or even hit some rides.
The rides cost a couple Euro each, so be sure to bring your wallet (there are plenty of ATM's around) and the rides offer a chance to have some fresh air and excitement. Always better to do early in the day though.
Just remember to hydrate!
What to do, what not to do? This is better in bullet points...
- DO PROST (That is a gentle cheers with your neighbors)
- DO try to sing (or just hum awkwardly - either way it counts)
- DO NOT smash your glass, throw it, hit somebody with it or even spill your beer! It's shameful!
- DO pace yourself...christ...please pace yourself. That beer is strong
- DO not be afraid to ask for water, or order food. It's the only way you'll make it through the day
- DO try to buy lederhosen (for men) or a dirndl for females and wear it the whole day
- DO try to go on some of the rides outside - it is a festival after all
- DO try to arrive to the tents early in the AM
- DO NOT stay out super late. Most people usually stumble home around 7, 8 or even 9 pm
- DO have fun while you're there, but BE SAFE!
- DO go with a buddy or small group and stay on the same page. Know where you're going!
- DO NOT fight anyone! Even the bodyguards - they do not hold back! It is NOT like America, these guys will mess you up severely!
- PROBABLY do not try to steal the actual steins...it's tough to do, but doable. Ultimately your call
- DO NOT get super 'white girl wasted' - Germans don't even do this, so spare yourself if possible
- MAYBE stand on the table...if you do - you MUST finish your beer without putting it down! Or else everyone will throw food and other items at you! Not okay! Be a champ, finish your BEER!
Munich isn't just about the beer...
Now, with all this said, Oktoberfest is wild and crazy. But if you go to Munich, don't let Oktoberfest be the only thing you do. There is so much to see, from Marienplatz, to the 1972 Olympic stadium, the BMX factory, to the Dachau concentration camp (outside of Munich) the shopping mall, traditional Bavarian restaurants to try, as well as the incredible English Garden and magnificent churches.
It really is a wonderful city to go to at any point in the year, and the architecture, people and hospitality here will leave you wanting more. It may not be on your "List" of places to see in 2017, but I assure you, Munich will definitely be calling you back, especially in the fall and spring of each year (the best times to go in my humble opinion).
Lastly, if you go, don't forget to go on Lenny's Beer Walking Tour. Link below. It's amazing. Drink during a wild history lesson. What more could you want?
There's seriously a lot to do in Munich - and I hope you found this article helpful. Have another comment or concern? Leave us a comment down below, or email me directly.
Hope to see you on our Prague to Oktoberfest tour in September 2017! Link down below. Email me with questions or for group discounts!