Planning a trip to this year’s Oktoberfest? If so, do you really know what to expect? Are you aware there are 14 main tents to choose from, that if you don’t have tickets you need to be up before the milkman to guarantee yourself a seat or that a powerful singing voice is one of the greatest assets you could ever have? Here is our survival guide for the largest public festival in the world…
Plan to be in Munich in September, not October
Thanks to Imgur
Contrary to what you may think, most of Oktoberfest actually takes place in September. For instance, this year the festivities begin on 20th September and come to a regrettable end on 5thOctober. Why is this, you ask? Well, while it was originally held entirely in October, it was later moved back a couple of weeks so the festival would get better weather. I guess nursing a hangover in the sunshine is nicer than doing so in the cold…
Rise and shine!
Thanks to Imgur
You’ve probably got it into your head that the weekend is for sleeping. Guess again! If you don’t have pre-booked tickets and want a place in one of the tents, you’re going have to get down there early! And we’re not talking 12 noon early, no. What we mean is 8am early. On the weekends, the tents and gardens fill like an inflating lifeboat, so expect a beer breakfast. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly acceptable here, and it’s only liquid bread anyway.
Pick your tent well
Thanks to Imgur
There are 14 different beer tents tents at Oktoberfest, each sitting anywhere between 4,000 and 11,000 patrons (or that could be 8,000 and 22,000 if you’ve got a touch of that double vision). Each tent has its own unique little characteristic, like type of food served, decor or music. Drinking atmosphere is, of course, important, so to help you pick the ideal tent, we’ve created a little guide:
Hippodrom: One of the smaller tents seating ‘only’ around 4,000 people. This will be the first tent you see as you enter the Oktoberfest site and is known locally as a popular tent for singletons. It’s different to other tents as it also has a ‘Sekt’ bar that serves sparkling wine.
Lowenbrau-Festhelle (pictured): This tent at the bottom of Oktoberfest’s ‘street’ is popular with Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans. Thanks to the 4.5 meter lion that guards the main door, it’s hard to miss it.
Hofbrau-Festzelt: Thanks to its affiliation with Munich’s best-known beer hall, the ‘Hofbrauhaus’, the Hofbrau Tent is popular with revellers from overseas. It’s also one of the only tents to have standing room inside.
Hacker-Festzelt: Inside this tent is unlike any other, thanks to the blue sky and clouds that decorate the tent’s ceiling. Seating 9,300 people, it is also one of the largest. People flock to it around 5.30pm each evening to listen to its well-known rock ‘n’ roll band.
Augustiner-Festhelle: Ask any self-respecting Bavarian which tent they think will serve you the best beer at Oktoberfest and many of them will tell you the Augustiner Tent. It’s owned by the Augusinter Brewery and is considered one of the friendliest of all the tents.
Open up to new people
Thanks to the litres of beer flowing through the veins, and the thousands of people losing all inhibitions due to it, it’s hard to not make new friends at Oktoberfest. So once you plonk yourself at one of the tent’s various tables and order a beer, don’t be shy and introduce yourself to those around you. And to save on blushes as the night progresses, write their name on a piece of paper because after the copious amounts of alcohol you’ll no doubt consume, you won’t have a notion of their name an hour after meeting them. Or just remember those Lemonheads lyrics from the 90’s, ‘I’ve never been too good with names but I remember faces’.
Keep an open mind
There’s no doubt about it, the number of conceptions in Munich during Oktoberfest must be astounding. Equally, the amount of children wandering around, separated from their parents each October must be equally high. It’s rather a rare time for a lapse in adult responsibility, and who doesn’t deserve that once in a while?
Over the course of your time at the festival you will see couples canoodling, others fighting, groups of men laughing like schoolboys and others (I hate to say it) vomiting. So keep an open mind because you will see all sorts here.
Be prepared to show others your vocal skills
Thanks to Imgur
As the day progresses in the tent, if you’re not singing along with the bands on the bandstand in the centre of the tent there’s something wrong with you. Songs such as ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd, ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles, ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams and ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver cause thousands of people from all over the world to stand on the tables and join in night after night. You’ll be joining them before you can say ‘who the hell are Lynyrd Skynrd?’
Make sure to build up an appetite
Thanks to Imgur
Drinking a beer larger than your dog is only part of the experience of being in a tent at Oktoberfest. Devouring a pork knuckle or roast chicken is part of the experience also. Use one of those litres of beer to wash down a good hearty meal during the day.
Don’t get too drunk
It’s a bit of a cliché when it comes to Oktoberfest, but try not to get too wasted. Rather than weakening the beer for the festival, breweries actually make their Oktoberfest beer stronger (about 6% volume) to really test people’s capacities. So if you’re going and you want to enjoy it, here’s some friendly advice –line that stomach and pace yourself!
So there you have it, eight sure-fire rules to live by if you want to come out the other side of Oktoberfest in one piece. I would say those memories will stay with you for a lifetime, but we all know that memories at Oktoberfest are a lie. So instead, enjoy that funny video your friends shot of you on their phone.
Remember, like with most things during Oktoberfest, you want to book your accommodation early to ensure a place. Book your bed in Munich now!
Have you been to Oktoberfest? Share your experiences and funny stories in the comments below…
Paullysascics Tuesday, April 5th, 2011, 12:39am
I’ve never put myself in the mindset that I’m actually any good at taking pictures, I just love to shoot things that catch my eye, whether it’s landscapes or just my kids.