Are you a fan of beer, brass band music, and plenty of Dirndls and Lederhosen? Munich in September is basically your heaven during its annual Oktoberfest celebration.
The Southern German city’s most famous event is also arguably the largest festival of its kind in the world, bringing in around 6 million visitors each year. Aside from the nearly 7 million liters of beer consumed, the festival flows with traditional Bavarian food, parades, music, and even rides for the little ones. If you’re attending this year’s celebration, held from September 19th through October 4th, here’s your complete guide to Oktoberfest in Munich.
From Wedding To Largest Festival in the World
Munich’s Oktoberfest has its roots in a wedding. The idea of an annual celebration in town began with the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to the affair on the fields in front of the city gates.
The wedding closed with a horse race, much to the delight of locals. They loved the horse race so much so that they decided to repeat it annually, and with time, the annual celebration evolved into today’s Oktoberfest! Munich’s Oktoberfest is still held in the same fields, Theresienwiese, which were named after Princess Therese. The celebration was pushed into September due to better weather conditions, but it always concludes in its namesake of October.
Know Your Beer Tents
Oktoberfest in Munich centers around the beer tents, with 14 main tents to choose from on your visit. Each tent differs in décor, size, and atmosphere. Before you decide which tent to get sloppy in, it pays to do a little research. Some can attract a younger, touristy crowd, while others are downright Bavarian. Depending on what kind of experience you want to have, there’s a beer tent perfect for you!
Some of the biggest beer tents include Augustiner-Festhalle, Hackerbräu-Festhalle, Hofbräu-Festzelt, and Schottenhamel-Festhalle. The entire Oktoberfest celebration kicks off in Schottenhamel-Festhalle, the oldest and most traditional of the tents. The Mayor of Munich taps the first keg here to kick off the celebration.
Augustiner-Festhalle boasts beer from Munich’s oldest brewery, which is still tapped from classic wooden kegs. If great photos are what you’re after, head over to the Hackerbräu-Festhalle with its famous blue and white ceiling. The Hofbräu-Festzelt tent is another great spot for pictures, with a ceiling decorated in 16 tons of hops and a massive crowd of around 10,000 people!
While it’s free to enter the Oktoberfest grounds in Munich, the beer tents can be closed off if they reach their capacity. Believe it or not, many attendees start to make reservations for tables with the beer tents they want to enjoy as soon as late winter.
If you didn’t have the presence of mind to make your reservations well in advance, that doesn’t mean you can’t still attend some of the biggest beer tents. There are still reservation free seats available, namely on off peak hours during weekdays and weekend mornings.
What To Eat and Drink
What to drink at Oktoberfest is a no brainer—beer, beer, and more beer. Munich’s annual festival only serves beer that comes directly from Munich breweries like Augustiner, Paulaner, and Spaten. Prepare to go big or go home—you won’t find any small beers at Oktoberfest! All beer is served in liter sizes called Maß. If beer doesn’t suit your fancy, there is a Weinzelt, or wine tent, serving a number of wines and champagne.
You’ll need to eat, though, if you want to enjoy all that beer without regretting it later. A number of Munich’s favorite eateries set up throughout the fairgrounds. You can sample some of the best Bavarian staples such as sausage, roast suckling pig, ox on a spit, giant pretzels, fish on a stick, and roasted chicken. Yum!
Throw on Your Dirndls and Lederhosen
While you can really show up in anything for Oktoberfest, traditional dress tends to be Dirndls and Lederhosen. The traditional wear can be a bit pricey, but if you want to fit in with the locals, a set of leather trousers or the traditional Bavarian dress will do the trick! Many locals put on their best for the occasion.
If you are looking to pick up a Fraw, you can note her availability by how the Dirndl bow is tied. A bow tied to the front left means she’s single while a bow tied to the front right means she’s taken.
More Than Just Beer
Believe it or not, there’s more to Munich’s Oktoberfest than just the beer! There are plenty of other events that go along with the celebration such as the Oktoberfest Costume and Rifleman’s Parade with historical uniforms, marching bands and floats. Oktoberfest also contains the Open Air Oktoberfest Music event, a big band open-air concert of all of the Oktoberfest bands. Families can also enjoy a number of rides throughout the fairgrounds. Fun!
Will you be headed to Oktoberfest this month? Have you ever visited before? Tell us your best Oktoberfest stories in the comments!