10 Must-Knows about Oktoberfest in Munich!
Originally posted on https://www.pptravel.com/blog/default.asp?ID=10-oktoberfest-must-know-essentials
- October doesn’t get all the glory!
Whilst the event actually used to be exclusively in October now the majority of the festival is held in late September. As Munich’s Oktoberfest became more popular with the locals and tourism increased the weather became an issue for maintaining crowds and ensuring longevity of the event. The dates were therefore brought forward ensuring all revellers to the event could enjoy the warmer and longer days of late September.
- Oktoberfest is FREE!
There is no official entry fee to Oktoberfest and there never has been. Many people mistakenly believe they must pay for and reserve tables but this is totally untrue although it could be an advantage for large groups who wish to visit the event and all be seated together. Table Reservations can be expensive unless booked directly with the various beer tent operators but they are increasingly easier to get than they have been in the past. But remember, 85% of seats in all the beer tents are always totally FREE.
- Don’t visit with luggage!
There are rows of police and security at every entrance to the Oktoberfest and all revellers are checked with random pat-downs. There is an official bag size limitation so whatever you do, don’t bring backpacks or large tote or handbags or you may be refused entry. There are left luggage centres scattered about the exterior of the Oktoberfest grounds but of course you will need to pay for the privilege of leaving your luggage at one of those centres.
- Forget the Weekends!
With Millions of visitors each year understandably the weekends attract the biggest crowds and sometimes it can be impossible to get into any of the beer tents with lines for entry to beer tents taking hours upon hours to whittle down. Tuesdays are an awesome day to attend as some rides and food stall vendors are advertised as having reduced prices. You’ll still get all the authenticity of Oktoberfest on a mid-week visit and, if anything, a more authentic experience as locals will preferably attend mid-week to avoid the tourist trap that weekends bring to the event.
- The Olde Wiesn is NEW!
If you want to experience a calmer vibe then the southern section of the Oktoberfest area is nowadays transformed into an old world Oktoberfest experience. Complete with 19th and 20th century rides, vintage costumes and a history you can actually feel you’ll be astounded by the difference. There are still beer tents in the Olde Wiesn where you can enjoy traditional food and drink as well as older style dancing and musical performances. Unmissable.
- ALWAYS have Cash!
Do not visit Oktoberfest believing that this is the type of place you can wave a magic chip card in exchange for food, drinks, souvenirs or rides. This is most definitely a cash only society. ATM’s can have very long lines so be prepared. Another great tip is to make sure you have some small coins in your pocket for toilet visits (they all have attendants) and also €1 and €2 coins to tip your waiters or waitresses for every beer or food order they deliver to you – remember no tips will mean NO SERVICE!
- Beer tents Serve BEER!
Oktoberfest is ALL about beer. Ordering a gin and tonic, a glass of wine or a cocktail will do you no good in Oktoberfest’s 14 large beer tents as all you will receive is a 1 litre glass of beer. Ordering soft-drinks or water in a beer tent can also be very expensive so beware. It’s more than possible to enjoy this amazing event without drinking beer (if you are a non-drinker) but you will need to have a laid back attitude to do so.
- All hail the WIESN!
Locals and Bavarians refer to the Oktoberfest as the Wiesn. This is a colloquial name derived from the area of the Oktoberfest grounds which is known as the Theresienwiese. Named after Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen the festival grounds of 420,000 square metres is where the festivities all began right back in 1810 when the princess married Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria.
- Traditional clothing can tell a Story!
In 1887 lederhosen and dirndls were announced as the official garb of the Oktoberfest and today that directive still applies. Whilst there is no actual dress code to the event most locals do take their garb very seriously. Men’s Lederhosen can often passed down through generations, particularly some of the outfit’s adornments such as the silver Charivari chain and the way a woman ties her dirndl’s apron can signify her relationship status. It’s said that if the bow is on the right then she’s in a relationship, a bow on the left means single. A bow in the middle means too young and a bow at the back means widowed.
- The Last Night!
Whilst officially the last night of the Oktoberfest ends the same as all the others in the beer tents at 10.30pm this is actually far from truth. Make sure you’ve ordered your last beers well before 10pm (and tip well to receive them) as waitresses and waiters alike will stop serving early. Sparklers will be handed to revellers and lights will be dimmed for a final farewell to all the staff. Each beer tent has its own quirky finish to its festivities of the past two weeks and often the last night can be the most enjoyable night of all!
Mark Minehan – PP Travel Mark is part of the management and operational team at PP Travel and has attended the Oktoberfest festivities on over 20 occasions and has spent a year of his life in Munich during Oktoberfest