Oktoberfest (pronounced ok.toba.fest) in Munich is an exciting event not to be missed. It has been happening every year since 1810. I went a number of years ago and had the best time. Here are my 4 reasons why you should experience this event.
It’s all about the beer
If you are a beer lover, like me, then you will love drinking the beer at the Oktoberfest. Originally the Oktoberfest was a non-alcoholic celebration. That’s right, it was, but it didn’t take long for that to change and now around 7 million litres of beer are consumed at the event.
Now the only beer that can be served during Oktoberfest must come from one of Munich’s six breweries – Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu. All the beers must pass Reinheitsgebot (the purity test) which is a law passed in 1516 to ensure the quality of the beer. That’s right, Germany, particularly Munich doesn’t mess around when it comes to the brewing of its beer.
It will be wonderful to try all the beers. I suggest you aim to spend a number of days at the festival to do this. And don’t forget to pace yourself or you could end up a ‘beer corpse’ – someone who has drunk too much beer and passed out. Yes, that is what they call them.
My friends and I moved from beer tent to beer tent. Well actually they are bigger than a tent. Each area can fit hundreds of people in them at once. The atmosphere is electric inside with people wearing traditional German clothes while drinking German beer and clinking steins together during German songs. Great fun!
World’s largest funfair
Oktoberfest is also a world-renowned funfair. Many places try to emulate it every year but there is nothing like experiencing the real thing.
If you don’t like beer don’t worry, there are plenty of other things to do besides sit in a beer tent and drink beer. There is the carnival atmosphere in the funfair grounds where you could go on the rides, walk along the side stalls, listen to the lively music and taste traditional, mouthwatering foods like smoked sausages, pork knuckles, sauerkraut, pretzels and gingerbread. You definitely won’t starve as you walk around the grounds which are open from mid-morning to late at night.
Ride the Rides
Walk around the Grounds
Oktoberfest actually began in 1810 as a wedding celebration. The then Bavarian Crown Prince, Prince Ludwig invited all the citizens of the area to come celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. This initial celebration has grown to what we know and love today. It originally occurred in October but was moved a couple of weeks earlier so as to allow for the better September weather. To be part of such a great German tradition was a highlight of my travels.
Experience German culture at its best
Oktoberfest officially starts when the mayor taps the first keg, declaring “O’ zapft is” or “it’s tapped”. The first person to traditionally get a beer is the Bavarian Minister-President. This happens around mid-day and is interesting to watch.
After the Minister-President has sipped his beer everyone can then enjoy a beer plus everything else the festival has to offer. You may want to dress in the traditional clothes as well and really get in to this German cultural experience.
If the beer becomes too much you can explore Munich as there is plenty to do. Some of the things I did was to visit the centre of town and see the Glockenspeil. I also took a tram to the Dacchau Concentration Camp and visited the Munich Olympic Village. Then it was more beer!
Visit the Olympic Village
See the Glockenspeil
In 2018 Oktoberfest is happening between 22 September and 7 October.
You can get to Oktoberfest in a number of ways. You can fly, take a bus or the train. You might even be driving yourself. There is plenty of accommodation but I suggest you book early so as not to miss out. Check out Hostel World for a bed in a dorm or Booking.com for something a little more upmarket.
About the Author:
Sharyn was living and working in London when she saw a local Australian tour company offering a tour to Oktoberfest. It included bus travel and 5 nights accommodation. So a couple of days before it started she boarded a bus that left London and drove through the Netherlands to Germany. Yes, it was a long trip. The accommodation was in a German Guesthaus with 4 people in a room. Each day the bus dropped everyone off at the Oktoberfest and brought them home each night. Sharyn loved the Oktoberfest and highly recommends you include it in your travels if you are travelling in Germany in September/October.