I’ve got three nice clues for you: beer, festival, Germany. So, did you guess it already?
I am talking of course about one of the biggest festivals in Europe: Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest is Germany’s most known festival, so famous around the world that many other cities have copied as event. It is all about true Bavarian fun with beer, pretzels, sausages, beautiful Bavarian costumes, and pure tradition. It is so known and part of so many people’s bucket lists that you need to book well in advance flight, hotels and any other additional like chauffer services, tickets for various events, etc.
When and where is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest marks the beginning of the real autumn season therefore each year is celebrated starting with the end in September until the beginning of October. This year, in 2020, Oktoberfest will take place between September 19th and October 4th.
The place where the giant festival is held each year from its very beginnings is the Theresienwiese ground. This is a place near Munich, and it spreads over an area of around 39000 sq. This entire meadow is covered with tents and booths offering the wildest variety of beers possible.
Origins and history
The origins of this famous festival date back in the times of kings and queens. On October 12th, 1810 a great celebration took place in the fields outside the town of Munich. The entire population of Munich and the surrounding area was celebrating the wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria with Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The field where the celebrations were held took the name of Theresienwiese which can be translated literally Theresa’s meadows. In fact, locals don’t refer to the festival as going to Oktoberfest but rather gong to Wiese.
The celebrations of this marriage lasted for five whole days. The inhabitants of Munich and surroundings were invited to drink, eat, dance, enjoy the music and drums, participate in shooting contests and be part of a horse race even. The population was so happy, and the celebration had such success that the king and prince decided to make an annual event out of this. And that is how Oktoberfest was truly born from celebrating love, not drinking, as some might think.
Beer and the tents
As we’ve all heard the main attraction of Oktoberfest is the beer. Not any beer, tough. We are talking about local Bavarian brands that are each in line with the Bavarian beer purity Law. This law is not a joke and not a publicity stunt of a beer brand. This is a true existing law, adopted in Bavaria in 1516, after this region has united and became one. This law still valid today states that beer should only contain water, barely and hops.
At Oktoberfest you can find the first six Bavarian beer brands: Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Spaten, Paulaner, Hofbräu and Augustiner each sold in the tents erected on Theresienwiese. There is a total of 14 tents each serving beer and food. Each tent has its own Bavarian Blasmusik music played inside. Each tent takes great pride in showcasing some special thing that makes it special within the festival. One is best known for its music, another one for its Wursts, and so on.
Apart from the 14 big tents there some other 20 that are smaller and do not participate in each edition of the festival. You should know that entering a tent doesn’t cost a thing, but you need to buy or order something a.k.a. beer. Beer is only sold at one liter, no smaller quantities. Over 6 million liters of beer are sold each year throughout the entire festival.
Let’s review some of the most important tents you must visit if you want to go on a trip to Oktoberfest.
The first and most important one is the Schottenhamel. Here is where the whole shebang starts. This is the biggest tent, but the oldest one at Oktoberfest. Each year Oktoberfest begins when the Mayor of Munich opens the first barrel of beer in this tent and says “Ozapft is” (a call for celebrations).
Hofbräu Festzelt is another popular tent because it is the one preferred by most international visutors. 80% of the American visitors are said to prefer this tent particularly. This tent might be very busy like Schottenhamel, so you need to take into consideration some particularly extended waiting times to get a table.
If you are traveling with your family, then your best choice for a tent is Augustiner-Festhalle. You need to know that if want to get a table here you will surely need a reservation. Since this is the family-friendly tent to go, all the locals are booking tables here in advance. So, if you are counting on getting a table on the spot, then you are very wrong!
Although I wouldn’t really advise you to go to Oktoberfest if you do not enjoy beer, if you do still, this tent is your go to place: Weinzelt. Here they have a wide range of wines, not only normal, but also sparkling.
If you are the one that wants to be the last to leave, then Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke is the tent for you. This is one of the fewest tents that have a very late-night closing time. And, as a plus, they say this is the place to be if you want to meet some celebrities who are attending this festival.
Things to know if you want to go
If you want to go to Oktoberfest, you need to plan ahead for sure. Flights and hotels are fully booked even months before it starts. And this is because each year this unique festival is visited by 7 million people from around the world.
You would probably not need more then five days to enjoy and get the feeling of this festival. Less will make you feel not really happy and more it will probably bore you. A good idea would be to come and catch the openings with the mayor and all. The opening day of Oktoberfest is also marked by a parade of carriages and people dressed in traditional costumes.
Speaking of costumes, if you really want to be part of the “thing” you might feel you need to get a suiting outfit. Traditional outfits could be bought for around EUR 50, Lederhosen for men and Dirndl for women (a traditional Bavarian dress).
Oktoberfest is not just a drinking game festival as some would think. In fact, it was designed for family fun. Therefore, it is created as a fairground with a variety of rides and fun for the whole family. You can enjoy a puppet show at the Puppet theatre or watch folk dances in the Herzkasperl tent.
Oktoberfest is the festival for everyone to enjoy because it was crated to celebrate love and happiness. To fully get everything from this experience make sure to plan ahead, book flight, hotels, tables in tents and chauffeur services to get around the town in time and style.