Munich Beer Festival | A Guide to Surviving Oktoberfest

Munich Beer Festival | A Guide to Surviving Oktoberfest

September 24, 2021 8 By Kerry

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If you’re looking for the Munich Beer Festival, I imagine what you’re looking for is Oktoberfest Munchen, the largest beer festival in the world. Find out everything you need to know about this legendary annual event so that you can arrive well-prepared and leave drunk and smiling. 

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Contents of This Munich Beer Festival Guide

History of Oktoberfest in Munich 

Many people automatically think of the Munich Beer festival for well… it’s beer. However, Oktoberfest Weisn is an 18-day folk festival that originated as a public event in the 19th century. 

If you’re in Munich for the opening weekend, then be sure to attend the traditional costume parade. This parade runs from Munich city center to the Oktoberfest grounds and is one of the highlights of Weisn. You can watch from the streets, but buy a ticket to a spectator stand if you want a better view. 

When is Oktoberfest, the Munich Beer Festival 

Misleadingly, the 2-week Oktoberfest beer festival actually begins on the second to last Saturday in September at noon. This opening weekend is the busiest and popular time as people flock to see the mayor of Munich taps the first barrel at the Schottenhamel Tent, declaring “O’zapft is” (It’s open). 

There is no festival in 2021, but due to the global popularity of this event, it is best to plan early for the Munich Beer Festival 2022. 

Munich beer festival - Oktoberfest willkommen entrance sign
Willkommen zum Oktoberfest

Where is the Munich Beer Festival

Oktoberfest is located close to Munich Old Town and is easy to get to by bus or metro; destination Theresienwiese

Don’t worry if it is your first time catching trains in Germany, it is easy to get about.

Planning for the Munich Beer Festival 

Here is the important part, Oktoberfest is extremely busy and therefore, proper planning is important to make your experience as smooth as possible. 

What to Budget 

Everyone is different regarding how much they drink or what they spend on food, accommodation and other fun activities. Remember that entry into the festival is free! But it’s the costs of everything else that stack up.

Beer Tent Reservation: €360+ for a whole table for the day. Tickets are hard to come by and sell out quickly, but you can find more information about reservations here

Carnival Ride: €4 – €5 for most rides 

Food: €11+ for a small meal. I found the food delicious, though and well worth it. 

Stein: (one-liter mug of beer): €11-€15 

Hotel accommodation: €120 + per person per night. Rates during the Munich beer festival are high, especially if you want to stay in Old Town. However, travel links are great to and from the Beerfest, so it is worth staying a bit further out to reduce costs. 

Public Transport: €5 per day

Where to Stay 

Let’s face it; if you’re just going to Munich for the Beerfest, then it doesn’t matter where you stay, provided it has easy access to the metro. 

If you plan to see the beautiful city itself, the Old Town is the prime place to be, and during Oktoberfest, the centre is thriving. 

If you want to be as close as possible to the festival itself, then stay within a mile or two of Theresienwiese. Although buses and metros are easily accessible to all major parts of the city.

Booking.com

What to wear 

There is no dress code for Oktoberfest, although the traditional costumes from the Bavaria region are commonly worn by German nationals and tourists alike. 

For men, this traditional outfit is Lederhosen which are short or knee-length leather breeches typically worn with a chequered shirt and often a hat. 

For women, the traditional outfit is a Dirndl, a flowy dress, an apron and a white blouse bodice that comes in many different elegant and beautiful designs. 

Buying authentic Bavarian wear is extremely expensive, but if you’d like to dress up for the Munich Beer Festival, affordable options are available.

Munich beer festival - beer tent with women drinking steins and wearing Dirndl
Making friends wearing a Dirndl outside a beer tent

Is Munich Oktoberfest worth it? 

Munich Oktoberfest is definitely worth it and should be added to your bucket list. Even if you’re not normally a beer lover, the experience will make up for it, and you could always drink wine, cider or soft drinks. 

Take a ride on at least one amusement ride, devour delicious German food, enjoy the fabulous beer gardens, dance, sing, and meet many different people from across the world!

Beer Tents at Oktoberfest Munich Beer Festival 

While there are fun rides, shopping stalls and great food, let’s face it, the reason you’re going to Munich Beer Festival, and that’s to get drunk! 

Well, you’re in luck. If you left Oktoberfest sober, I’d be worried about you. However, you have a couple of choices about how to go about it. 

1) Pre-book your table at one of the larger beer tents

2) Turn up and try and find space on a table 

Munich beer festival - inside one of the beer tents
Inside one of the Munich beer festival tents

I did the latter, mainly because I went solo for the most part, and this gave me a great opportunity to meet different people. Boy did I! While I got to table hop, which let me enjoy all the different beer brands, it’s a risk and not advisable unless you’re going on a weekday or in a small group. 

When you book a table, you have the whole indoor beer tent experience, which is a sight to behold. Inside the tents is where you will hear traditional music, singing and people dancing (and falling) on tables. Of course, you are somewhat constrained to the one tent, but I doubt that will matter. I had massive tent envy when I managed to get on top of a bench at a beer hall at the end of the night. 

Don’t forget with all that delicious ale, you will certainly get hungry! So, be sure to find some delicious German food to try.

Beers & Breweries

If you’re somewhat of a beer connoisseur, then I recommend that you explore Munich Old Town before you head to the annual festival. Many of the big breweries have beer halls (Bierpalast, Bierstube) in the centre where you can taste the beers before committing to a tent. 

Some of the biggest and most popular tents are: 

Augustiner Festhalle, this family-friendly tent, serves beer from wooden barrels. The Augustiner beer is also sold at many other tents, proving the popularity of this beer.

Hacker-Festzelt; want to be inside but feel like you’re outside? This tent has intricately decorated ceilings that create the illusion of a bright summer sky.

Armbrustschützenzelt; if you book this tent for a Wednesday, you will also be treated by a traditional Bavarian performance from costume groups like Schuhplattlers or whip crackers.

Fischer-Vroni, a popular time to visit this tent is on the second Wiesn Monday for the pink party, when the LGBT community comes out in force, transforming this ‘fish on a stick’ tent into a vibrant party.

Munich beer festival tent - raising a stein of lager
Happy Oktoberfest!

Summary

After visiting the largest beer festival in the world and sampling the delights of German steins, I doubt normal beer will ever taste the same again. That is unless you also go to Stuttgart Beer Festival, Germany’s other large Oktoberfest event. 

If you’re travelling through Germany, you might also like the following posts:

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I’d love to know how you find Oktoberfest, or whether you have any questions or feedback. Just reach out to me in the comments or on social media.