Last year I visited the legendary Oktoberfest Festival in its original home of Munich. I wrote a post about how much fun I had, but I thought that as I am preparing myself for this year’s festival, I would write a new post to try help anyone heading out there for the first time! *edit* Since visiting Oktoberfest for the second time, I have added in a few more tips and pictures!
Personally I will take any opportunity to dress up, but I know some people can’t think of anything worse. Before visiting the festival I wasn’t really sure how much effort everyone makes. The Germans certainly take it seriously, spending hundreds on traditional costume. Last year Adam and I put together make shift outfits as we were only going to the festival for a day. This year our whole group invested in more authentic outfits, although not spending quite as much as the locals! If you really don’t like dressing up then certainly don’t feel obliged, but the majority are definitely in lederhosen or a dirndl, and if you don’t want to spend the money you can easily make an effort and just wear things you already have like we did last year!
As far as I’m aware, the tents don’t accept cards. There are cash machines about they have extortionate charges to use them so I would recommend that you take enough cash for the day. Steins are on average 10 euros and we on average had about 7 each in a day but that is completely dependent on how much you drink!
Yes this is a festival based on beer but by no means does this mean that you should treat it like a piss-up in Magaluf.
Eat throughout the day (pretzels are very good at soaking up all the alcohol – they are more expensive at the festival but if you pick one up from a bakery in the city you can get one bigger than your face for less than 3 euros!) and just remember its a marathon not a sprint – not only do you want to remember your trip but you don’t want to miss all the action after being carried home at 3 in the afternoon.
Last year we visited on the opening Saturday and it was rammed. Luckily we decided to sit outside in the rain so that by the time the beer was flowing and the sun was out, we had a table unlike all the hoards who appeared around us. This year we booked a table which you need to do in advance but if you can I would recommend it. Mid week you should easily get a table before 12 and we as a group of 10 even managed to sit down in a tent one evening. But certainly if you are visiting on a weekend, get there early and be prepared to queue.
Don’t get Wet
The weather in late September is very temperamental, make sure you take a rain mac or poncho because if it rains it is unlikely you will last the day. As we were waiting for beer to be served last year we were sat outside on soggy benches absolutely drenched. I luckily brought a mac with me but the others had to run around the festival buying whatever provisions they could find. But as you would expect, they charge extortionately for items like ponchos and umbrellas. We had begun to get pretty miserable but luckily for us the sun came out and we had a great time. But you need to be prepared if you aren’t so lucky with the weather.
Nothing substantial but I recommend a few euros for the first order to ensure your Frauline returns, then whatever change you have to make sure she keeps coming back. Fraulines serve specific tables so you get to know your waitress as the day goes on. What is a particularly odd Munich tradition is that they have toilet attendants that expect you to tip a little to use the toilet. I don’t think this is obligatory but they do make you feel a bit uncomfortable if you don’t pay. I certainly didn’t pay every time but if I had a little change and their money pot was a little empty I tended to.
You may not realise that you have to be sat down to be served by a Frauline, you can’t just go up to a bar. In the Hofbrauhaus tent, you could stand up at the tables which meant it was much easier to be served. So don’t be surprised if a few randomers ask to squeeze onto your bench or table, they just want a beer!
Prepare to Queue
This is mainly in regards to the toilets, but the popular tents also have queues outside too. The festival has a big fairground which you have to queue for the individual rides like you would expect. Going to the festival during the week, especially in the day dramatically reduces the queuing time.
Yes the festival is amazing, but as is the city. Especially if this is your first time to Munich, make sure you leave some time to explore a little. It is certainly one of my favourite cities. And if the thought of wasting precious beer-drinking time is too difficult to bare, then head to one of the many beer halls that are open permanently.
Don’t put your Foot on the Table
Unless you want to down your stein, which is no mean feat. Of course once you have got through your first few litres you will think you can handle it, but believe me it can be pretty tough, even when every one around you turns round to cheer you on. Seasoned Oktoberfest-goers will try to catch you out by telling you to put your foot on the table, but now you know.
I think this is important wherever you go, even if it is only a few words to show you are trying. A stein is a litre of beer, danke is thank you, and prost is cheers. Now you have everything you need to know!