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Oktoberfest actually starts in late September and ends the first Sunday in October. The origination of Oktoberfest dates back to October 17, 1810 in celebration of the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The date was later moved into September to take advantage of Germany’s beautiful fall weather.
The first festival was held in a large field outside Munich city walls, since named the Theresienwiese in honor of the bride. Held at the same place every year, Oktoberfest is commonly referred to as the “Wies’n” by locals.
In 1896, due to popularity and some very enterprising men, the beer stands gave way to beer tents and we all know how well they have done.
The festival’s opening weekend is a spectator’s delight. On Saturday’s opening Festzug, a thousand brewers and tent owners parade through the Munich streets on horse-drawn carriages adorned with flowers and large barrels of festival beer. The festival is officially declared opened with a twelve gun salute and the tapping of the first keg by the mayor who shouts “O’zapft is!” (Bavarian for “It’s tapped!”).
A traditional costume parade was organized in 1835 to mark the royal 25th wedding anniversary. Due to its success and popularity, the parade is re-enacted the first Sunday of Oktoberfest and is one of the largest processions in the world today.
Things To Know
It is important to note that you must be on time, preferably early to your Oktoberfest reservation. Otherwise, you will lose your seat.
When leaving your seats, for any reason, make sure at least one person in your party remains seated to ensure your seat. Abandoned seats will be reassigned by the waitresses. If you leave before the end of your reservation, then you CANNOT re-enter the tent. No exceptions.
Tipping may be included on your voucher and it’s always a good practice to look. Otherwise, 10-15% tip is customary. Of course, you are welcome to tip extra.
Climate during Oktoberfest is generally very pleasent with temperatures in the mid 60’s to low 70’s. Expect evenings to cool down into the 50’s. However, this time of year can be unpredictable with some warm 80 degree days and very chilly 40 degree evenings. A few rainy days during the festival should be anticipated. Plan accordingly.
In an effort to manage the level of atmosphere, a “quiet Oktoberfest” policy was enacted in 2005. Today, the tents play only quiet music (85 decibels) until 6pm, a move designed to appeal to families and older adults. After that, anything goes.
Dancing is allowed on benches and the floor only. This is a strict policy. Inappropriate behavior toward wait staff will also ensure your quick exit.
Leave all glassware in the tents – purchase is possible from souvenir stands. And likewise, do not bring your own glassware in to the tents.
Wearing silly Oktoberfest headgear will most certainly point you out as a tourist.
An area for lost and found children, lost property and a security point for women in need can be found at the German Red Cross.
A consideration for those traveling with family; children under the age of 6 must vacate the tents by 8 pm, even if accompanied by an adult. Smoking was banned in the tents in 2010 — an offense punishable by denied service, a fine or perhaps both.
There is an ebb and flow to Oktoberfest. During the day, it is calmer and more appropriate for visitors on a family trip; however, in the early evening things take on a completely different atmosphere in terms of the amount of chaos, long lines, and a rowdy crowd.
All Tuesdays are Family Day- 10 am – 6 pm This day offers reduced rates on the rides, entry, and snack prices, and a more laid-back atmosphere which is fun for all ages. Be aware that this day does not offer reductions on tent entrances.
First Saturday – 12:00 PM – This is the tapping of the First Oktoberfest beer barrel in the Schottenhamel tent which signifies the opening of the event.
First Sunday – 10:00 AM – Traditional costume parade through Munich.
Second Sunday – 11:00 AM – Traditional concert of the Oktoberfest brass bands at the foot of the Bavaria statue.
Munich is the capital and largest city in the German state of Bavaria. Munich’s Franz Josef Strauss Airport (MUC) is located 18 miles (29 km) outside Munich. It is the 14th busiest international passenger traffic airport in the world and has been awarded “Best in Europe” for 4 successive years.
US airlines offering direct flights to MUC include Delta Airlines from Atlanta, American Airlines from Philadelphia, and United Airlines from Chicago, Houston, Newark and Washington DC. German airliner Lufthansa offers the most direct flights from the US from Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, San Francisco, Miami and Washington DC. Skyscanner.com offers a complete list of airlines that fly to Munich and is a good place to start your flight planning. Fares and schedules can be found on individual airline websites.
The S-Bahn train, the urban rail portion of the MVV network, runs approximately 20 times a day between downtown Munich and the airport, making easy city transportation for any weary traveler. The ride takes approximately 45 minutes to the Marienplatz station in the city centre.
Car rentals, bus and taxi service are also available. Lufthansa Airport Bus provides an alternative to the S-Bahn, stopping at Nordfriedhof U-Bahn station and Munich Central Station.
Flights into Frankfurt may be cheaper during the festival but train fare into Munich is something to be considered.
Munich has a very comprehensive and punctual public transporation system that includes the S-Bahn (urban rapid rail), the U-Bahn (urban underground subway), the Munich Tramway, buses and a network of pedestrian and bike paths throughout the city centre.
A Munich Transit Pass can be purchased starting around 6 euros for an inner district day ticket, more for the airport, multi-day, partner passes, City/Tour card, and tickets for the entire MVV network. Visit the MVV website for tickets and day tickets information.
Because of the excellent public transporation system we don’t recommend car rentals or driving into and around Munich. Heavy traffic and traffic jams are commonplace especially during Oktoberfest.
The more popular and reasonably priced hotel accommodations are known to book a year in advance of Oktoberfest, with rates rising higher as each day passes. Expect to pay higher rates, pay in advance and pay in full when making your reservation.
With 5 star elegance and just 5 minutes from Marienplatz Square, Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski München offers the discriminating traveler smoke-free rooms in modern décor. Each room has an iPad for room service, entertainment or spa appointments. Just steps from Munich Main Station and festival grounds is Sofitel Munich Bayerpost. This 5 star hotel offers free wi-fi, an indoor pool, sauna and fitness center.
Priced to accommodate the budget-minded traveler, Hotel an der Oper is also located just 5 minutes from Marienplatz and Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall. Guests are offered breakfast service, soundproofed rooms and apartments with flat screen TVs.
A more affordable option, each room at Eurostar’s Grand Central is themed after a famous book. Located in the middle of the shopping district and only a half mile from Oktoberfest, this hotel is a sound option for festival-goers.
Best Western Atrium Hotel, InterCityHotel München, Eden Hotel Wolff, Vi Vadi Hotel, King’s Hotel First Class, Four Points by Sheraton, Hotel Regent and Hotel Cristal Munich are all accommodations close to Oktoberfest grounds.
For the consummate shopper, Galeria Kaufhof am Marienplatz is the place to be. Over eight floors of purchasing experiences await the plastic wielding consumer. From lobster to sports and lingerie to luggage, even fashion to home decor – it’s all under this one very large roof.
No trip to Germany is complete without picking up traditional national garb. Angermaier Munich is the one-stop shop for the finest wear with fashion flair. You will find two locations in Munich, the Marienplatz and Donnersberger at the bridge.
Merchants of fine living have set up shop in Luitpoldblock Munich, a recently renovated consumer experience. Bang & Olufsen, Obermaier Baths, Missoni and Pilati International Interior Design are just a tasting of the high-end retailers located here.
A more relaxed and everyday shopping venue, Kaufingertor Munich feels like a modern day mall experience on a long, narrow indoor European street.
Stachus Passagen is Europe’s largest underground mall. On the cutting edge of style, Stachus Passagen caters to the busy professional and tourist, alike. Here you will find delicatessens and grocery stores specializing in take-away cuisine, trendy shops and a variety of boutiques.
Ingolstadt Village offers exceptional outlet shopping in an architecturally appealing venue. Located outside Munich, savings of 30-60% off retail are the norm.
The City of Munich official website has a list of Munich shopping locations we suggest our clients visit when planning their stay in town.
Considered by some to be the finest in international cuisine, Schwartz & Weiz on Bayerstrasse is a solid choice if traveling with clientele.
An excellent kitchen for traditional Bavarian dishes in the heart of Old Town Munich is Tagernseer Tal Brewhouse.
For a trendier palate, Hans im Glück, or Hans in Luck, sports a vast array of burgers, with multiple locations around the city.
The Mediterranean bistro Marais Soir in Westend, with its Italian-French influences is a casually chic welcome to this newly revitalized neighborhood.
If you’re in the mood for affordable continental fare with an excellent wine selection in an opulent setting, Rilano No. 6 is the place to be.
The cheap eats award for this Bavarian city goes to Yum2Take, a Thai kitchen and local favorite serving great noodles, curries and veggies. Two locations in Munich. Expect less than friendly, although adequate service in a somewhat sterile atmosphere.
The City of Munich official website has a very complete “Gastro Guide” of restaurants in and around Munich.
Remember to bring identification proving your age if you want to drink. It is recommended you prepare a paper with your basic personal/ health information to keep on your person.
A hint: Pace yourself on the beer consumption. If you become inebriated, and behave in a drunken, obnoxious, and disorderly manner then the waitress may ask you to leave. German police are not very tolerant and you do not want to get into trouble.
Is Oktoberfest a Free Event?
Anyone can enter the Oktoberfest grounds and tent admission is free. Oktoberfest is the largest public festival in the world. Serving over 400,000 people each day, the festival has only 1 seat for every 4.5 people. Food and beverage service is available only to those with a seat.
Because most large tents reach maximum capacity early in the day, admission becomes limited to only purchased reservation holders. Tent seating is in high demand and therefore sells out quickly. Weekends and Opening Day may be sold out years in advance or limited to regular patrons and celebrities.
Purchasing a reservation eliminates standing in long lines and the risk of waiting for hours, only to be denied admission due to capacity issues. Through our connections on the secondary market, Empire Entertainment and Travel has created access to festival seat reservations to all.
Reservations are highly recommended. Don’t be left outside. Secure your seat reservations before you head to Munich.
When is Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest occurs for 3 weekends in the months of September and October, ending on the first Sunday of October. However, if the first Sunday is before October 3rd the festival is extended to include that date. Why? October 3rd is the national holiday, German Unity Day, which is the anniversary date of the reunification of East and West Germany.
Oktoberfest 2020: September 19th – October 4th
Oktoberfest 2021: September 18th – Sunday, October 3rd
Oktoberfest 2022: Saturday, September 17th – Monday, October 3rd, extended
Oktoberfest 2023: Saturday, September 16th – Tuesday, October 3rd, extended
Oktoberfest 2024: Saturday, September 21st – Sunday October 6th
Oktoberfest 2025: Saturday September 20th – Sunday October 5th
Oktoberfest 2026: Saturday September 19th – Sunday October 4th
Oktoberfest 2027: Saturday September 18th – Sunday October 3rd
Oktoberfest 2028: Saturday September 16th – Tuesday October 3rd, extended
Why would I want a table reservation at Oktoberfest?
With a reservation you can spend more time in the tent or exploring the fare grounds vs. standing in line. If you do not have a reservation in a tent, be prepared to wait and to be patient. Generally, some of the tents begin queuing from lunch time on weekdays, and on weekends these lines begin early morning. Reservations are not compulsory, but we highly recommend it. If you do not have a seat at a tent you will not be served and will be unable to drink.
What is included in a reservation package?
Each reserved seat includes two large beers and a traditional food plate or the equivalent value in vouchers, map and Oktoberfest information guide, onsite German and English speaking contact, and hotel or personal meet and greet delivery.
How many people can be seated at a table? Can we book a table for two?
Generally, the majority of tables seat ten people. Reservations obtained directly from the tents (when you can get them) are reserved as a complete table. However, we are able to take bookings for individuals or groups smaller than 10 at a shared table. No worries if you don’t have 10 people in your party and you will make new friends from all over the world.
How do I purchase Oktoberfest Tent Reservations?
We offer reservations in all large Oktoberfest tents according to availability. Click on the calendar icon at the top right of the page, select the date you plan to be at Oktoberfest and enter the number in your party for the desired package. Click the Buy button to add seats to your Shopping Cart. You may also book by telephone by calling Empire Entertainment and Travel toll-free in the US at 877-265-3600 (International +1-404-846-8466).
Purchasing Oktoberfest reservations is completely secure and guaranteed with Empire Entertainment and Travel’s Ticket Assure Protection Guarantee, which states your reservations will be delivered in time for the event, they will be authentic, and will be what you ordered or better, or your money back.
How will I get my Oktoberfest Reservation Voucher?
Reservation vouchers will either be shipped to you, delivered to your Munich hotel or you can meet one of our representatives in Munich (Meet & Greet).
Meet & Greet Information:
Some tent reservation vouchers can only be delivered via Meet & Greet in Munich. We will need your travel information including arrival dates, cell phone number and hotel address in Germany in order to arrange your Meet & Greet appointment. This includes delivering to your hotel prior to your arrival.
If you have ordered reservations ahead of time (before the reservation date) and we have the vouchers in hand, we will ship via UPS within the US. If you have already departed for Germany, we can arrange a shipment via DHL, FedEx International or UPS International to your hotel address. Our standard courier shipment rates will be charged to your account with your prior approval.
How can I pay for my Reservation?
We accept several methods of payment to accommodate your needs including American Express, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.
How will I receive an invoice for my order?
We will send your invoice to you via either email or fax depending on your preference. We will follow up this invoice with an additional information sheet in which we will ask you to fill out detailing your hotel information, cell phone, email contact and arrival date and time in Munich. This will allow us to better serve you as the event draws closer and ensure you have all the knowledge you need for admittance to Oktoberfest.
Why am I being asked to provide copies of my credit card and government issued photo ID? Is this safe?
For your protection we may require copies of these documents, along with a Credit Card Authorization Form, to ensure that the credit card holder is in fact the one placing the order and authorizing the transaction. Empire Tickets protects customer’s privacy with rigorous security measures according to GDPR guidlines. The form may only be accessed by fraud prevention management to aid in the resolution of credit card disputes or other similarly urgent situations.
Reasons why we may require authorization include but are not limited to:
- The billing address has been incorrectly entered.
- The order is over a certain dollar figure.
- The tickets are shipping to a location other than the billing address.
- The billing address is international and/or not recognized by our credit card processor.
- The tickets cannot ship via DHL, UPS or FedEx and thus a signature cannot be obtained upon delivery. This scenario occurs most frequently for same day orders.
The Credit Card Authorization Form will require the customer’s signature and a copy of the front and back of the credit card. The total of the order should also be listed along with a copy of government issued identification. You may fax the completed form to 404-467-0937 or reply to the original email address the form was sent from.
If asked to complete an authorization form, please note that the reservations are not on hold and the order will not be processed until the form is completed and approved by our fraud prevention team. For this reason, please make every attempt to complete the form in a timely manner to ensure that reservations do not become unavailable.
How do I pay at Oktoberfest?
Please bring enough cash prior to entering the fare grounds. Credit cards are not accepted at most tents. There are no open tabs within the tent, you must pay as you drink. Once, you have used all of your beer and food vouchers, you will have to purchase all additional food and drinks with cash. There are AMT machines within some tents and on the fare grounds. However, fees tend to be high and lines could be long. Do not leave before you have cashed out with the waitress at the end of your stay. Tip the waitresses generously for faster service.
How should I dress?
Dressing appropriately for the event and weather will be the key to enjoying your time.
Wear comfortable shoes. Layer your clothing. It can be warm in the tents but chilly and cool outside. Bring a rain coat. This time of year it rains frequently in Munich. Do not bring cumbersome backpacks. They are not allowed in the tent.