Oktoberfest in Munich
Updated: May 21, 2020
"Prost! und genießen"... (Cheers! and enjoy)
What is Oktoberfest?
Well Oktoberfest today is one of the largest visited festivals globally. Oktoberfest has been held every year for over 200 years to celebrate and indulge in Bavarian culture. It all started following the 1810 celebration of the wedding of the Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The party for the royal couple was so much fun that they kept the tradition going, and every year since they held Oktoberfest. There are so many things the Bavarian culture has to offer but the main ones are the language, food, scenic lands and of course the BEER (especially for Oktoberfest).
Oktoberfest is not really held in October but instead is held for three weeks beginning on the third Saturday of September and ending on the first Sunday of October. During this time you will not believe the number of people visiting and the amount of food and beer consumed.
TAKE A LOOK
Beer: 7 million liters
Pork sausages: 140,000 Pairs
Chickens: 549,899 units
If you want to see more statistics about Oktoberfest Click HERE
The grounds of Oktoberfest are held at “Theresienwiese”. Theresienwiese is located within the city center boundaries and is 103.78 acres, to put that into retrospect that is approximately 58 soccer fields!
Monday to Friday tents open at 10am and the last song along with the last beer served is at 10:30pm. Saturday to Sunday tents open at 9am and close at approximately 11pm. However there are some exceptions... if you go for the first Saturday of Oktoberfest (opening day), the beer will be served at noon right after the Mayor of Munich takes the first tap to commence the start of Oktoberfest.
During the three week festival there are scheduled events or special parades that take place.
Here is the 2020 event schedule:
Entrance to Oktoberfest is FREE, there is NO Admission fee.
Fun right… I know.
The TENTS of Oktoberfest
In total there are 38 tents to choose from at Oktoberfest and the Old Oktoberfest (Oide Wiesn).
Before I talk about the different tents, I will explain the difference between Oktoberfest and Old Oktoberfest (Oide Wiesn). Old Oktoberfest began in 2010 to mark Oktoberfest’s 200th anniversary but because it was loved by the public it has been reintroduced every four years since then. We went in 2019 and we landed on one of those 4 years, (however we didn’t get to experience Old Oktoberfest ourselves) we were just told by a local of what it consisted of. Old Oktoberfest makes you feel as though you have stepped back in time. A time where there were cozy beer tents, rides that are simple but extremely fun and local Bavarian dances and chants. This part of Oktoberfest is to allow everyone to experience the past in a fun and meaningful way.
2019 was the latest year with Old Oktoberfest, which means it would take place at the 2023 or 2024 Oktoberfest
Fees and Location for “Oide Wiesn”
Location: Southernmost part of Theresienwiese
Entrance Fee: around 3 euros per person
Oktoberfest has 17 large tents and 21 small tents. Each tent of Oktoberfest has a certain theme and tradition. Each is crafted and created to not only represent the Bavarian culture, but it is also to display the type of beer.
When we were there we were determined to find the beer that the locals found to be the best. Our first day we arrived at around 11am on a Saturday and were on the search for a seat at any tent. We didn’t care which one we just wanted a bier (beer). Little did we know the first tent we found a seat at… we found the jackpot. We landed with a patio seat because inside of the tents were packed, but it was a beautiful sunny day on a lively patio and we were more than happy. We were sitting at the Augustiner tent patio. After asking every local we met they all said Augustiner is the best beer by far… and after having my first sip of Oktoberfest bier I can say… yes it was. Augustiner comes from traditional wooden barrels which gives it that fresh and full of flavour taste, while also allowing it to have less carbon dioxide. If you had to choose any tent to go to, make sure Augustiner Festhalle is on your list, you will not regret it. TRUST ME!
Do you want to step into Bavarian heaven? If so, the Hacker-Festzelt tent is for you. On our second day at Oktoberfest it was a Monday, which means it was less busy and allowed us to explore the grounds and tents a little more. I heard about the feeling this tent gives and its romantic atmosphere. The Hacker-Festzelt tent left me in shock because of the beautiful mural that covers the ceiling and walls (as an artist myself, I was in awe). Due to the light blue tones of the tent it allowed the tent to light up in the most soft and elegant way. This tent was purposely designed to depict “heavens of Bavaria” and let me tell you, heaven is where you go once you enter this tent.
In this tent the start of Oktoberfest is celebrated by the Mayor of Munich tapping the first barrel of beer. Schottenhamel-Festhalle has interesting seating arrangements, where it increases communication. Also the crowd over the years in this tent has been mostly of a younger age group so if you are looking to mingle and flirt, then this tent might be the tent for you... wink wink.
These are just some interesting facts about the 17 large tents. If you want to learn more about the large tents of Oktoberfest click HERE
The smaller tents of Oktoberfest are not only smaller atmospheres but also provide outlet service. At these tents you can find specialty dishes that truly are one of a kind.
Ammer Hühner- und Entenbraterei
This is the second oldest tent being there since 1885 and its specialty is the organic duck and chicken. The taste is timeless!
If you need a pick-me-up because you are going on a 2 day bender and are trying to regain all the energy you need for a fun filled Oktoberfest, you should take a pit-stop at Café Mohrenkopf. This is where you can find the oldest coffee tent at Oktoberfest.
If you are looking for anything in particular from drinks, to food or atmosphere, the 21 smaller tents might just have it. To get more information on smaller tents click HERE
What to Eat & Drink at Oktoberfest
Food of Oktoberfest
Food stalls can be found anywhere and everywhere on the Oktoberfest grounds. Some of the popular food items include:
Roast Chicken (Hendl)
Sausage (Würstchen) or White Sausage (Weisswurst)
Pork Knuckle (Schweinshaxe)
Drinks of Oktoberfest
There is not only beer at Oktoberfest. This is a kid friendly environment so there are soft drinks offered, as well as juice, smoothies and lemonade. There are also wine and radler (half beer and lemonade) tents for those who can’t drink beer or just enjoy different options.
At Oktoberfest there is a certain way to order your beer. The beer is only served in a 1L stein (stein is german for beer mug). Also, you can only order if you are seated in the tent or on its patio. If you want to be fancy when ordering you say “ein Maß”. the ß is a sign for a double s, so this will be pronounced as “Mass”. “Ein Maß” means a stein of beer.
Some fun things to buy at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest Stein (Depending on the size of the stein 25-70 euros):
These traditional steins are so beautiful you don’t want to drink from them. They are each hand painted and are designed to depict the logo of that year
Gingerbread Cookie Necklace “Lebkuchen” (Depending on the size of cookie, small cookie is around 5 euros):
This is a tradition that originated from the 1810 celebration of the wedding of the Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. These cookies were shaped in hearts to celebrate love of the two royals, and to this day are still shaped as hearts. The gingerbread cookies now are symbols of love to share with your significant other or other loved ones. Each cookie has different sayings in German like “I love you”, “Princess” or like the one I got for keepsake it says “Oktoberfest”. The options are endless and the decision gets difficult when picking out your Oktoberfest cookie.
Real Roses “Echte Rosen” (So I am not too sure on the cost because someone gave it to me):
I'm not too sure on the exact tradition with the Roses. Although, I do know that it is a way to show appreciation to someone.
Oktoberfest cocaine “Wiesn Pulver” (around 6 euros):
This is a funny tradition. First I would like to say that it is legal and not a drug. When we were on our third maß (mass) our table had turned over and we had new neighbours. The new group beside us was a bunch of middle aged local men and this one gentleman in particular had a white powder all over his nose. He explained to us what it was. Oktoberfest cocaine comes in this small bottle, almost bigger than a regular prescription container. It is a circular container filled with a white powder. This white powder is not a drug but it is made of glucose (sugar) and menthol. You are probably wondering what the purpose of this is. Well, it is known to be the Oktoberfest “pick-me-up”, so essentially it is a small sugar rush. You may see the powder cut into lines on the beer tables and being snorted through the nostrils like the real deal, but despite it looking like the real deal it is completely harmless. The gentlemen beside us offered it to us and we did try it and like I said before it's a small sugar rush with a cooling sensation because of the menthol.
Where to stay and how to get to Oktoberfest
There are a few options for accommodation during Oktoberfest. We decided to stay at an airbnb. We started planning our Oktoberfest trip in January and booked our accommodation in February and at this time a lot of hostels and airbnbs were already booked. So my suggestion is to book your accommodation as early as you can! It was kind of pricey although we preferred to have our own space during our time in Munich.
For our Airbnb click HERE
If airbnb is not the option for you and you are looking for a cheaper alternative, Oktoberfest offers campsites. If this interests you click HERE for more information and bookings.
Our airbnb was in the area of Heßstraße and was about a 30 minute walk to the Oktoberfest grounds, Theresienwiese. We always walked there and back just because we enjoyed the walk and preferred the scenic route. However, there are options to take public transportation. If you want to learn more on how to take public transport to the Oktoberfest grounds click HERE
When walking to the Oktoberfest grounds you notice more and more people in their Oktoberfest attire. Sooner than you think you are walking with a crowd of people all dressed up and heading in the same direction as you. Also, a fun and inventive addition to help people get to Oktoberfest is on the sidewalks. If you look down on the sidewalks you will notice that there are arrows pointing in the direction you need to follow saying “Oktoberfest”. Cool right?
Reservations for a seat YES or NO
The big question I had when booking our Oktoberfest trip was if we should reserve our seats or not to get into the tents. First off, reservations for Oktoberfest take place as soon as the following year finishes. Funny antidote, we were trying to get into one of the big tents but at the front doors there was security with a clipboard who told us, “without a reservation you aren't able to come in”. So we just thought to ask if we could book a reservation for later in the evening and she replied saying “you can book a reservation for next year”. So moral of that little story is that if you are thinking of making a reservation make it early because the tents book up very quickly.
But do you really need a reservation?
I personally think it all depends on the number of people you are going with and the day you plan on going.
We experienced Oktoberfest on a Saturday and a Monday and there were 3 of us in total.
For example, if you are planning on going on a weekend and there are 7 of you, then I will most likely recommend looking into reservations or breaking up into smaller groups and carrying on your own ways. Although, like I said there were only 3 of us and went on a Saturday and after a few walks within the tents and patios we were able to find a seat.
I suggest that if you are going from Thursday-Sunday and there aren't more than 4 people with you, you do NOT need a RESERVATION. I will highly suggest to just GO EARLY.
Although, if you plan on going from Monday-Wednesday you can get away with NOT having a RESERVATION and able to have a larger group. I only say this because from Monday-Wednesday Oktoberfest is not that busy in comparison to the weekend.
TIP: On the weekend days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) once you find a seat, do not think you can hop from tent to tent. This is almost impossible, so get cozy with any seat you can score. Now, if you go on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday you have a high chance of tent hopping like we did.
If you are interested in making reservations and think it is the best choice for you click HERE
The APP that helped us get through Oktoberfest
The Oktoberfest app is a great tool to use to plan before or during the Oktoberfest festival. With this app you are able to see the locations of small and large tents allowing you to show your friends where you are if you get lost. This tool can show you the date, time and description on the planned events. It gives you tips like what to bring, the 10 golden rules, transportation, history and description on each tent.
I loved this app because it helped us narrow down on what we will like to see and do at Oktoberfest and also helped us navigate. The Oktoberfest grounds are huge so it can be a bit overwhelming, with this app it can help you feel more at ease.
To download the Oktoberfest-Official APP click HERE