Oktoberfest : The world’s largest and most famous beer festival, and the only time of the year when drinking beer at any hour of the day is totally acceptable ! It’s held annually form mid or late September to the first week of October with millions of people from all over the world attending this event every year. There are many Oktoberfest celebrations around the world, but the original festival takes place in Munich. It’s held from 1810 and it’s a very important part of Bavarian culture. We’ve been planning to go on this trip since August (before we even arrived to Prague) and we were looking forward to it so much!
The Oktoberfest grounds are called “Theresienwiese” and are located in the heart of Munich. The festival runs everyday from 10 am to 11.30 pm and admission is free, however, beer is not served until noon on the first Saturday, which marks the opening of the festival; “O’zapft is!” (“The barrel is tapped”), exclaims Munich’s Lord Mayor after opening the very first cask of beer precisely at that time and thus officially inaugurating the Munich Oktoberfest.
Experiencing Oktoberfest like a local.
The beer tents are THE place to be in order to truly live the Oktoberfest experience. Each tent can fit up to thousands of people; the locals are used to sitting at the beer tents for more than 7 straight hours, drinking, feasting on traditional Bavarian food, singing and challenging each other to chug at once their huge 1L beer glass. Only a few brave souls have the courage to stand up on their bench to announce their intention to chug an entire liter of beer. Once someone begins chugging away, the entire room starts cheering wildly, and by the time that brave individual has successfully completed the task, the whole tent erupts into an explosion of cheering and signing. Before you let your fantasies run wild, you should keep this in mind: should you take the challenge and fail, or merely take too long to finish, you will be heartily booed! So think twice before throwing yourself into this challenge.
On the other hand if beer isn’t really your thing, then don’t worry! There’s a wine tent (the Weinzelt) where you can choose from more than 15 different wines in addition to different types of sparkling wine (Sekt) and champagne. Non-alcoholic drinks (like “Apfelschorle” (half apple juice, half mineral water) or “Spezi” (half orange lemonade, half Coke)) are served in every tent too, as required by law.
Even though we arrived at the festival very early, the crowd was already massive and all of the tents were full! Nevertheless, we achieved to find a table at the “Augustiner” tent, one the most popular tents among the locals.
We spent most of our time there just like the local Bavarians would do: drinking beer, eating giant Bavarian pretzels and hanging out with friends.
Tent hopping and exploring the rest of the festival.
If you’re one of those who can’t handle more than 2-3 straight hours of drinking and singing and want to explore the rest of the festival, you should keep in mind that once you leave your table there’s no going back. Tables are really tough to come by especially if you’re visiting Oktoberfest on the weekend.
After spending our entire morning at the “Augustiner” tent we decided it was time to explore the rest of the festival. All 14 tents offer pretty much the same overall experience, but in reality each tent has its own unique vibe. The beer gardens are really pleasant too, but lack the traditional atmosphere.
There’s more to Oktoberfest than just drinking beer! Make sure to enjoy the fairground as well; the Ferris wheel, roller coaster and of course games like airguns or popping balloons with darts are for kids of all age 🙂
After all this fun and walking around, revive your energy with a treat : if you’ve got a sweet-tooth (guilty *raises hand*) then go for a chocolate dipped&covered fruit! I indulged myself to a mouth-drooling chocolate-dipped sour apple covered with coconut.
On the other hand, if you prefer something more salty, instead of the traditional Bavarian pretzels, have a traditional German sausage; there are so many varieties to chose from: the local specialty is Weisswurst (a white sausage), Bratwurst and Currywurst (my personal fave) . They can be eaten at any time of day and are usually served with a bread roll. (watch out for the mustard its super spicy !)
If sausages aren’t your thing then don’t worry, there are other alternatives like chicken, pork, burgers and plenty of seafood (Crab, smoked fish and shrimp). Seafood is served with mayonnaise sauce in a bread roll.
Visit the center of München.
Last but not least, make time to visit the vibrant Marienplatz square, Munich’s main square, and focus on the most recognizable landmarks in the city : the Rathaus (Munich’s Town Hall), the Column of St. Mary and the Glockenspiel, a clock tower that houses motorized figurines. Each day at 11 am, noon, and 5 pm, thirty-two near life-size figures dance, joust, and twirl around the inside of the tower, giving quite of an enjoying performance for the crowds that gather at Marienplatz to watch. The performance lasts 12 minutes and ends with the chirp of a cuckoo bird coming out above the display.
P.S. : If you want to find out more details about Oktoberfest check out this link. I found it to be extremely useful 🙂