Oktoberfest is a special time of year. Starting out in Germany, the art of celebrating Oktoberfest has traveled near and far. Now celebrated in large cities throughout the world, people don't always need to travel to Germany just to have a taste of the German culture. However, there is nothing like the real deal. Once the fall season comes along, people are gearing up for the festivities and we have 10 things everyone needs to know before making the trek to Munich for this massive festival celebrated with live music and fresh beer.
10 IT'S NOT IN OCTOBER
Although Oktoberfest has "October" in the name, it's not traditionally celebrated in October in Munich. In 2019, the festival is celebrated from September 21 through October 6th. Back in the 1800s, King Ludwig I married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, whose wedding was held on October 12. The wedding was a huge tourist attraction for many and was used as a way to learn more about Bavaria — the lower region of Germany (where Munich is).
9 YOU CAN GRAB A DIRNDL OR LEDERHOSEN FROM THE TRAIN STATION
One of the more exciting things tourists prepare themselves for before heading to Munich's Oktoberfest is wearing the traditional garb. Local women wear dirndls (dresses) while men wear lederhosen (shorts with suspenders attached). While it's fun to dress up to match the culture, there's no need to buy an expensive one online before the trip. Instead, save the room in your suitcase and buy one in the train station.
The train station in Munich is quite large and has a few stores and vendors that sells memorabilia and outfits for the festival. It's a perfect, quick stop for tourists to grab an outfit before heading into the fest.
8 IT'S FREE
Surprise! There's no entrance fee to Munich's Oktoberfest! This is typically a surprise to most travelers, expecting large prices like most amusement parks, but that's not the case here! Granted, most of the visitors' money will go towards food and beer...
7 IT'S MUCH MORE THAN JUST BEER TENTS
When people who have never been to Oktoberfest or Munich before expect Oktoberfest to be a few large tents of beer. But it's far more than that. These "tents" are actually tents — they're structures built in advance with a tent covering the outside. Each tent is lined up with rows and rows of picnic tables where visitors can grab a seat and enjoy the party. But if drinking beer all day isn't your thing, have no fear, there's much more.
Aside from the beer tents, there's rows and rows of food vendors with local goodies. From Bavarian pretzels to fried fish on a stick to baked goods — there's enough food to go around at Oktoberfest. Once you're done eating, walk around the large grounds to play games, go on rides, and grab a few souvenirs!
6 LADIES, LEAVE YOUR LARGE BAGS AT HOME
When you enter Oktoberfest through the main gate, there's a bunch of policemen and members of security waiting to check you for any foul play. Bags will be checked and pockets will be felt. So if you're planning on bringing a backpack filled with waters and snacks, think again. Visitors can only bring small totes and wallets — anything too big could be a risk and will be asked to be left outside. Mind you, there's no lockers outside, so if you leave your goods by the gate, they may not be there when you leave.
5 THERE'S NO SMALL BEERS HERE
Most Oktoberfest patrons will notice there are no small beers here. Germans have a beer purity law, meaning the beer is local and 100% authentic, so you're not going to find any Bud Lights here, folks!
Not only is the beer unlike anything North America has, but it's also served in one-liter glasses. They're massive, they're heavy, and they cost around 10 euros a pop. It's also smart to remember that German beer is stronger than our beer in North America, so be sure to munch on some bread in between glasses!
4 YOU'LL KNOW SOMEONE'S RELATIONSHIP STATUS BY THEIR GARB
If there's any '90 babies out there, they'll remember those bracelets people used to wear in high school that showcased what gender they were into or if they were taken or single. Well, Germans have another way of proclaiming their relationship status: through their dirndls! Around the waist of a woman's dirndl is a ribbon and the way the woman positions her ribbon will show her relationship status.
If the bow is on the right, she's in a relationship. If the bow is on the left, she's single. If the bow is in the middle, she's too young (virginal). If the bow is in the back, she's widowed.
3 THE LAST NIGHT OF OKTOBERFEST IS ONE OF THE BEST
While Oktoberfest is a few weeks long, the last day of the festival (October 6) is the most magical. There's a ton of live music throughout the festival and at the end of the night, everyone turns off their lights and guests are handed sparklers. Everyone lifts up their sparklers and the night becomes a united front with people of all different cultures. ee
2 FORGET ABOUT THE WEEKENDS
Oktoberfest sees millions of people every year, from all walks of life. Most of the locals get to take time off work during the week to go to the festival but for people coming from overseas typically want to go on the weekends. However, weekends are usually the busiest days, filled with a ton of lines, no seats, and a long wait to get, well, anything. If possible, going on a Tuesday or Wednesday is best.
1 BE READY TO SHARE!
People in North America don't share their tables too much. When you go to a restaurant and see two open chairs at a table with two people dining, you don't typically take a seat. You just wait for another table to open. At Oktoberfest, though, everyone sits with everyone, which may throw some people off. It's also important to get there early because once people sit down at the festival, they're not getting up — which makes it 10x harder to take a load off.
If you see some extra space at a table, ask the people to scootch over so you can pop a squat. Or you can always reserve a table, but this needs to be done MONTHS in advance and can be very expensive.