“Preißn” or “Zuagroasde“, as non-Bavarians are also referred to by Munich natives, often have their first difficulties at the Oktoberfest in Munich. Our compact Oktoberfest Guide 2017 is designed to answer the most burning questions about the biggest folk festival in the world.
Oktoberfest Guide 2017
The festivities start on Saturday, 16th September, at 12:00 pm. Traditionally they begin in the Schottenhamel tent with a solemn procession of the first beer barrel. The famous exclamation “O’zapft is!” is made before the twelve shot salute is fired to mark the beginning of Oktoberfest. Only then can beer be served in all the tents on the Theresa’s Fields (Theresienwiese).
Arrival and selection of the tents
If you use public transport to get from your apartment to the Oktoberfest, the nearest station is Theresienwiese. However, there are millions of visitors that attend the festival each year. If you want to avoid the crowds a little, the second closest and least crowded stop is Schwanthalerhöhe. This station is served by the U4 and U5.
You have passed the first hurdle! Now you need to choose a tent. The 14 large tents and many other medium-sized and small tents are spread over the Theresienwiese across an area of 31 hectares. In the 144 gastronomy establishments with around 119,000 seats, 13,000 workers are employed every year. The largest marquee is the Hofbräuzelt: including its beer garden, it offers over 11,000 seats. The smallest tent, Mugs Schiebl, offers a total of 60 seats.
Since the 200-year Oktoberfest Jubilee in 2010, the Oide Wiesn has been held at the southern end of the Theresienwiese. The Oide Wiesn is an almost nostalgic extension of the Oktoberfest. It is here that you can travel back in time to the old days. In the two main tents, which are smaller and more comfortable than the big breweries, the beer is served in traditional tankards and the rides are antique. The Oide Wiesn is very popular with Munich residents and less frequented by tourists.
Beer is served in the large tents on weekdays from 10:00 to 22:30, as well as on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9:00 to 22:30. With exceptions of the Käferwiesn-Schänke and the Weinzelts tents, which stay open until 1:00, time is called at 23:30! For many Munich residents, this is when the party really starts! If you still haven’t had enough beer and you are still able to go, you can go ahead with the so-called “Afterwiesn“.
Seat reservation in the beer tents
Here’s the good news in advance: reservations are always free! At least almost free, because each reservation is usually accompanied by a consumption voucher. This voucher is usually valid for two large beers and half a roast chicken per person. In addition, the orders are table-wise, i.e. in groups of ten. They can generally be cancelled a few weeks before the start of the event free of charge. How exactly a reservation is handled can differ slightly from tent to tent. Mostly a telephone or a request by email is possible. Contact options and information for the large as well as the small tents can be found here.
Note: As many hosts accept order requests for the following year as early as November, it is advisable to contact them as soon as possible. In addition, when possible cancellations should be sent in spring. But don’t panic: on days with less rush or at certain times – during the week and on some afternoons – you have a good chance of getting a table up to three weeks before the festival starts.
Anyone who decides to attend Oktoberfest spontaneously this year without making a table reservation should be up as close to 7:00 as possible in order to queue. The rush is usually so overwhelming that most of the beer tents are already full just a few minutes after opening.
Fun Fact: Italian weekend
The second Oktoberfest weekend is also known as an Italian weekend since this is when most of the Italians, who account for almost 20% of the foreign visitors at the Oktoberfest, are traditionally present.
Hops and malt, God preserves: the measure
Oktoberfest is characterized by all sorts of fascinating traditions. Unfortunately, the annual increase in beer prices is also part of this! Whereas you had to pay the equivalent of only 0.87 euros for a large beer 60 years ago, the price is now between 10.60 and 10.95 euros this year. Compared with the previous year, the beer prices this year are on average 2.55 percent higher. Despite this, 7.5 million litres of beer were consumed by around 6 million visitors last year! The development of beer prices over the last 10 years is shown by our infographics.
One measure corresponds exactly to one litre, or it should at least. Unfortunately, the reality is often different. Many barmen are not so meticulous with the pouring during Oktoberfest. But the locals have thought of everything! In order to put an end to the poor bargain, or at least to hinder it, a group was formed to ensure that the filling quantity of the large jug is controlled by honorary inspectors.
The Oktoberfest beer is often stronger than regular beer. The alcohol content is influenced by the way it is brewed. While ordinary beer has an alcohol content of about five percent, the festival beer weighs in at around six percent alcohol content. Munich breweries that brew Oktoberfest beer include Augustiner Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner. One Oktoberfest beer corresponds to the alcohol content of eight glasses of brandy: this is why special caution is advised!
Good to know:
Nowadays it is strictly forbidden to drink a mass of beer when there is a pause between music performances. Failure to comply will result in you being kicked out of the tent. The same is true for urinating anywhere except the designated toilets. Those who prefer the green space behind the tent risk a fine of up to 100 euros.
The full Bavarian cuisine: the top 15 of the Oktoberfest
If you do not want to end up drunk, you shouldn’t forget to eat! Finding something to eat shouldn’t be difficult at the festival. After all, you can sample a wide variety of Bavarian cuisine. Before the first meal, the best thing to do is to strengthen yourself with a crispy pork knuckle with dark beer sauce and dumplings, or the hearty specialities of the famous ox stew: ox steaks with spicy sauce and mashed potatoes or tartar of ox steak. If you prefer something a little lighter, you can go for cold meats, a spicy sausage salad or the classic Brathendl. Steckerlfische is great for fish lovers – served with a strong marinade this flavoured, skewer-grilled freshwater fish is not to be missed!
Meat is popular in Bavaria. But don’t worry! At the Oktoberfest, the vegetarian and vegan visitors can also find sustenance. Vegetarian classics include homemade Obazda with bread rolls or black bread, Wiesnflammkuchen (veggie version without bacon but with lots of leeks and gouda) or hearty cheese specialities. Vegans can safely enjoy a delicious parade bread – warm tomato bread from the pan – or a hearty sauerkraut swirl.
All festival-goers, who have already gotten used to the chaos and confusion, know how to act strategically. After all, you have to endure several days of the festival! If you ask a local for the best cure for a hangover, the following is certainly the answer: an original Bavarian bretzeit, a bread plate with cold meats, different sausage and cheese varieties or a Bavarian white sausage breakfast – a pair of white sausages with brezln and sweet mustard, a white beer, which is supposed to serve as a counter-beer, must also be present!
The Oktoberfest outfit: the costume fashion
Regarding the Wiesn-Outfit for most visitors: here, you have to wear the Bavarian traditional costume!
Men: the Lederhosen
Among the masters of creation, Lederhosen is the most important part of the wardrobe. If you dare to and want to impress the ladies, take the shortest variant, the Krachlederne. Visitors should wear the costume shirt properly. Traditionally it is a simple linen shirt, but small-checkered shirts in strong colours combined with a cardigan or vest are also used. Original Bavarian Haferlschuhe round off the Oktoberfest outfit perfectly.
Women: the Dirndl
The Dirndl, a pleated skirt with a sewn bodice, is combined with a classic dirndl blouse and apron. The girls can wear both lace-up shoes as well as ballerina shoes or high heels. In addition to the appropriate footwear, there is another crucial question with regard to the female wardrobe: How to wear the Dirndl loop? What many Oktoberfest newbies do not know is that the position of the loop portrays the relationship status of the lady. Our infographic explains the traditional meanings of the four possible positions.
If you still have questions, the Oktoberfest.de app can be a faithful companion for your smartphone.