Ok, ok now you’ve got your flight ticket booked and you’re on your way to Oktoberfest…but what exactly is Oktoberfest? What should you expect? What should you do…
I’ve got your perfect Munich Oktoberfest guide to enjoying ‘Wiesn’ like a local! I did the hard yard drinking and …well, more drinking, so you don’t have to. Ok, there was also some research in between and plenty of chatting with locals.
But with accommodation at Oktoberfest going for a premium, and plenty of shenanigans to be had, I don’t want you loosing a second of your precious time here at this magical place.
Well, it all began with a Royal Wedding on 12 October 1810. The Crown Prince of Bavaria Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.
To celebrate, all the citizens of Munich were invited to a meadow outside the city walls for a festival to celebrate the occasion. Because of this, the meadow was renamed Theresienwiese in honor of the momentous occasion, while today the locals simply refer to it as Wiesn.
The close of the original festival was marked by horse races with royal attendance. These races were repeated in subsequent years giving rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest and a festival which celebrates the whole of Bavaria!
Today the horse races, which were once the highlight of the celebration, no longer take place but an agricultural show, instituted back in 1811 does however still occur every three years!
The first amusement rides appeared in 1818 in the form of a carousel and swings – quickly adjoined by a small beer stand to quench thirst. By 1896 the first beer tents and halls were set up by Munich’s beer breweries and the remainder of the site was taken up by a fun-fair as the fairground trade grew in popularity in Germany. The rest, as they say, is history!
Oktoberfest in Munich today is the worlds largest festival.
A gathering of people from all over Germany, and the world, with the distinct Bavarian characteristics of its 19th-century roots, still cherished. Oktoberfest has now been celebrated annually for over 200 years, only interrupted by cholera epidemics and war.
But what is Oktoberfest like now?
Today the main events to see are the Grand Entry of the Oktoberfest Landlords and Breweries, the Costume and Riflemen’s Procession, and a concert involving all the brass bands! And of course, beer is a prominent theme throughout…..
Ok – The history is all fine and dandy but what I really want to know is why is it Oktoberfest in September?!
Well, that’s because Oktoberfest traditionally opens on the third weekend in September and continues until the first Sunday of October.
And since the Royal Wedding was in October it makes sense – kind of!
Before enjoying ‘Wiesn’ like a local – or the beer halls of Munich like a local – you should first be aware of the Oktoberfest Etiquette after all the Germans are world renown for their rules!
Walking into these giant tents for the first time can be daunting, and even once you have found yourself the perfect spot it can all still be a bit confusing. Read up before you go about how it works and you will be an expert on how to Oktoberfest like a German in no time…
Enjoying ‘Wiesn’ like a local, or even Munich like a local, is not all about drinking. Don’t get me wrong… The beer festival is a major component of it, but actually at its heart Oktoberfest is a celebration of all things Bavarian.
Over half of the ‘meadow’ is taken up by amusement rides and carnival attractions, so there is something if you’re looking at going as a family. You don’t have to drink to dress up the in the traditional dirndl and lederhosen or enjoy the festive tent atmosphere and of course, there is the food.
All the delicious food!
We actually went along on our first night just to check out the rides, enjoy the sights and smells and get an idea for the actual festival because as I mentioned earlier…Once you’re in a tent, you would be daft to leave and give up your space.
They also have live music, various shows and of course the daily, largely ceremonial, changing of the tent in which every brewery has horses and carriages to change the wooden barrels. Not to be missed also are the Oktoberfest Costume and Riflemen’s Parade, the Schichtl Variety Show as well as the Oktoberfest Opening Day Parade!
While Oktoberfest in Munich is undoubtedly the world’s most well known, the event has now proliferated around the world and you can find it in such exotic places as Palestine, Hong Kong, and Namhae Island in Korea.
Within Germany, many people from other regions will insist their local festivals are better and more authentic. While the merits of these claims are up for debate they are sure to be less touristy and, normally, quite a bit cheaper, so it doesn’t hurt to consider them… especially if you are visiting at another time of year.
Here is a selection of the other well-known German Beer Festivals:
Munich is the historic capital of Bavaria and full of architectural delights, so make time to explore Munich like a local! Its unique blend of Bavarian traditions blends seamlessly with the cutting edge of business. Germans across the country sing praises for their beloved city and cherish the high quality of life afforded here.
And if you’re interested in history Sandermans offers multiple walking tours exploring all aspects of this glorious city – My personal favorite is the Third Reich tour exploring the dark events which lead to the rising of the Nazi Party here.
I hope this Oktoberfest Guide really helps you in enjoying ‘Wiesn’ like a local and you no longer are wondering what is Oktoberfest like. Its such an incredible experience and a once-in-a-lifetime thing you have just got to see!
Don’t be nervous – and if you are, try this 50 Oktoberfest Tips for the First-Timers aswell.
Have a little fun, but be safe!
Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big wide world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many budget travelers (including me) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access, so we can experience luxury while still slumming it in economy. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more general travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your own path and don't forget to share your best inspiration stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...I'd love to hear from you!