Get the Most Out of Oktoberfest Munich: 7 Hacks for the Oktoberfest Newbie
Confession: I, Erika the Dirndl Maker, have never been to Oktoberfest. I've been to Munich many times, but never during Oktoberfest. I secretly feel like a bit of a fraud, but that's why I don't give out many great tips and tricks about that particular fest. BUT... I have found someone who has! Ashley Smith is a writer, photographer and travel enthusiast with an awesome blog: My Wanderlusty Life. Her blog focuses on helping busy people travel the world on a time-budget. She has been to Oktoberfest many-a-time and also writes the majority of articles and content for Oktoberfesttours.travel (so she knows her stuff!)
She has graciously written 7 of what she calls the "7 hacks for the Oktoberfest newbie". So if you are going to Oktoberfest for the first time this year, this article is a must read!
Oktoberfest Munich is the Everest of German cultural celebrations. The archetype, the mother lode, it’s, quite appropriately, the imposing liter stein in a world of froo-froo glassware. Just like you can’t dream of climbing Everest on a whim, neither can you just “hop on over to the Wiesn” and see what’s up under those tents. Experiencing the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany takes adequate preparation and inside knowledge from a veteran. A healthy amount of cleavage that won’t quit doesn’t hurt either. I can help you with the first two… not so much that last one.
01 | Go on a weekday.
Oktoberfest Munich sees about 7 million visitors each year... over just 16 days. Holy Schnitzel, that’s a lot of people. A lot of people who need their butts on seats in order to get beers. As you can imagine, weekends are, by far, the busiest times to spend at Oktoberfest and WHO WANTS TO GET TURNED AWAY FROM A BEER TENT? Heading to the Theresienwiese (known locally as the “Wiesn”) during the week will make it so much easier for you to get in a tent and get your butt on a bench (and a lager on your lips).
02 | Get to the Wiesn early.
The next busiest time to go? Evenings. Any of ‘em, take your pick. There’s never been a less judgmental place to start drinking before daybreak than at Oktoberfest in Munich so take advantage of this frothy freedom and get to Oktoberfest the minute it opens (10 a.m.). The party is no less cuh-razy during the daylight hours and getting there early ensures you can easily find a seat in a beer tent and start getting yo’ drank on.
Going to Oktoberfest and not sure what to pack?
03 | Bring all your buddies.
As they say in old Bavaria, the more the merrier! Actually, I just made that up but they probably do! (They’re really nice there.) Regardless, it’s true. Enjoying Oktoberfest in Munich with a group of your friends is a truly special and heart-warming experience hilarious time chock full of peer pressure, questionable encouragement, and the threat of blackmail. The more friends along for the ride the more fun (and potentially damning) your trip to Oktoberfest will be. Friends don’t let friends prost alone.
04 | Wear a dirndl!
Is wearing a dirndl to Oktoberfest mandatory? No. Should you wear one anyway? Abso-freaking-lutely! In my opinion, wearing a dirndl is the #1 way to really get into the Oktoberfest spirit. I’m willing to bet about 99% of fest-goers wear traditional Bavarian clothing with the remaining 1% wearing big fat frowns. German or not, wearing a dirndl to Oktoberfest is expected, encouraged, celebrated, and hella sexy. They look great on every body and will amplify your fun-having to levels you never knew existed in your jeans. Just remember: For the love of lager, no. Halloween. costumes.
05 | Eat the food.
Vegans, avert your eyes! Oktoberfest food is some of the best food on Earth—yes, I just said that. Schnitzel and bratwurst and pretzels, galore! Half chickens and spaetzle, give me some more! Red cabbage and sauerkraut and pork knuckles and potato dumplings and… nope, can’t go on. Too hungry for this. But besides being delicious and hearty enough to put hair on your chest, eating the food helps you continue to drink the drinks. Important stuff.
photo from mywanderlustylife.com
06 | Check out a bunch of different beer tents.
There are big tents that hold up to 10,000 people, smaller tents that hold up to 5,000, and everything in between. They’re all sponsored by one of six Munich breweries—Spaten, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Augustiner, Hofbräu, and Hacker Pschorr—and each have their own theme, music, menu, and vibe. You’ve got crossbow hunting in the Armbrustschützenzelt, a life-sized rotating carousel in the Marstall tent, a bunch of Italians in the Löwenbräu tent for whatever reason, and you can find me in each and every one of them. As tough as it can be getting a seat in a tent, it’s absolutely worth trying out a few different ones during the day.
07 | Learn the songs and dance like nobody’s watching recording you to put on the internet.
I never thought tubas and accordions could be such a good time but… polka is where the party’s at. Get your booty in gear for some downright oom-pah-pah jamz. You’ll hear some new stuff, some stuff you’ve never, ever heard, and the classics about a thousand times. Embrace this or look really, really out of place. Know the words to Ein Prosit for your every-ten-minutes sing-a-long; learn the moves that go with Fliegerlied and how to do them while standing on a beer garden bench; and just improvise the rest but never stop moving your lips or your hips.
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As always, ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own. - Erika