Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair held in Munich, German, located in the Theresienwiese fairgrounds in the city centre. More than 6 million festival goers from around the globe attend each year. Over 7 million liters of official Oktoberfest beer, brewed only in Munich, are consumed. Many cities around the world hold Oktoberfest celebrations, but the Munich event is the original others are modeled after.
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 only 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- 12 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.
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 from Atlanta, US Airways 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. Fares can be found on individual airline websites.
The S-Bahn train 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 (suburban rapid rail), the U-Bahn (urban underground subway), the Munich Tramway, buses and a network of pedestrian and bike paths throughout the city centre.
Our accommodation packages include a Munich Transit Pass good to get around town during your stay. For those only purchasing tent reservations 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 network.
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 festivalgoers.
Best Western Atrium Hotel, InterCityHotel München, Eden Hotel Wolff, Vi Vadi Hotel, King’s Hotel First Class, Four Points by Sheraton, Hotel Regent and Best Western Hotel Cristal 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 décor – 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.
Gratifying the gastronomic and gourmet connoisseur, this outdoor market satisfies every culinary whim. Schrannenhalle is a wonderland for any foodie and not to be missed.
Ingolstadt Village offers exceptional outlet shopping in an architecturally appealing venue. Located outside Munich, savings of 30-60% off retail are the norm.
Considered by some to be the finest in international cuisine, Schwartz & Weiz on Bayerstrasse is a solid choice if traveling with clientele. Mark’s is another restaurant suitable for the same occasion or an even better one. Located in the Mandarin Oriental, expect to pay top dollar.
An excellent kitchen for traditional Bavarian dishes in the heart of Old Town Munich is Tagernseer Tal Brӓuhaus.
For a trendier palate, Hans im Glück, or Hans in Luck, sports a vast array of burgers, set in the indie section of Schwabing.
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. Expect less than friendly, although adequate service in a somewhat sterile atmosphere.
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.