With Oktoberfest (a.k.a. Wiesn by the locals) just around the corner, there are a few things worth knowing if it’s your first time…
1. Different tents have different vibes
And with 14 main ones, there’s plenty of choice. For a more traditional feel, head to the Augustiner tent. Friendly and relaxed, it’s also home to Munich’s arguably most popular brew. Hacker Pschorr and the Hippodrom have noticeably younger crowds, just be prepared to sing yourself hoarse to John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ and Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’. Alternatively, just wander about and see a) what takes your fancy and b) where you can get in with the shortest wait!
2. Take with you as little as possible
The less you have on you, the less you’ll have to worry about. It can be a major hassle forever checking on the bag full of valuables you’ve got stashed under a bench with a dozen people jumping on top of. You only need the essentials: cash and the address of where you’re staying.
3. If you get a spot in a tent, hold on to it
The tents get incredibly busy, weekends especially. Don’t worry about squeezing up next to a group of randomers, it won’t be long before you’re swaying alongside each other to the oom-pah music and soon after you’ll be dancing on the tables like the best of friends.
4. Learn the Prosit song:
“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit, ein Prosit, ein Pro-o-sit der Gemütlichkeit. Oans, zwoa, drei, g’suffa!”
5. Don’t underestimate Oktoberfest beer
After a couple of Maß (yep, that’s a litre glass) of slowly-brewed beer with a 6% alcohol content, you’ll be well on your way to a more than tipsy state. Pace yourself, you don’t want to end up among the Bierleichen, literally “beer corpses” – the Wiesn-goers who indulge perhaps one too many and pass out by 4pm. Many of whom find themselves part of the “art project” München Kotzt.
6. Maß glasses aren’t indestructible
It’s undeniable that chinking a huge and hardy beer glass isn’t great fun. But try to fight the urge to smash it with full force – no one enjoys a beer full of broken glass.
Tip: There’s a natural tendency to grip it by the handle, but rest it on the part between your index finger and thumb and you’ll save your arm a whole lot of ache.
7. Get involved!
Attending Wiesn in full traditional Tracht (the traditional Bavarian/Tirolean costume) is an experience unlike any other. For guys, that’s a pair of Lederhosen leather shorts with braces and a flap. For girls, there are Dirndls – dresses with a tight bodice and high-waisted skirt made to “accentuate the female form”. A full outfit can get fairly pricey, so if you’re not willing to commit at least a hundred Euros, try some of the secondhand sections (the Tracht shops around Viktualienmarkt usually have a good selection). It will also go down much better with the locals than a plastic set bought from Amazon.
Take note: There’s a whole way of coding availability that’s worth understanding: A bow on the left of the apron signifies the wearer is available, the right means they’re taken and the centre marks a virgin (or often just a confused foreigner).
8. Tip the barmaids
It’s the done thing to round up. A happy barmaid = quicker service.
9. Remember to eat
A Hendl (roast chicken) or Schweinshaxe (pork knuckles) are all part of the experience, as well as providing some much-needed stomach lining. However, food can get quite expensive inside the tents. Instead, pop outside to one of the hundreds of food stalls for a more affordable snack.
10. Roller coasters and rides aren’t just for kids
Flying through the cool night air feels like the greatest thing after a Maβ or two but it definitely becomes riskier as you get deeper into the afternoon…
11. Go explore Munich, beyond the beer
Swim in (or surf) the Eisbach river in Englischer Garten, have a BBQ at Flaucher or wander around the food stalls at Viktualienmarkt. Munich is more than just a beer festival (although drinking can, of course, be easily incorporated into all of the above).
Content updated: Sep 2014