Every year from mid-September to the beginning of October over 6 million visitors flock to Theresa’s meadows (Theresienwiese) in central Munich, Germany. There they will find the Munich Oktoberfest, the biggest beer festival in the world. This is a Bavarian tradition that has continued for over 200 years and has also inspired countless similar celebrations in cities all over the world. However, the original Oktoberfest in Munich is considered the definitive beer festival.
What is Oktoberfest in Munich?
The modern day Oktoberfest at Munich is one of the biggest draws for visitors to Germany, with around 7 million visitors recorded in 2017 over the two-week festival duration. Far from just a beer festival, Oktoberfest Munich events also involve traditional costume parades, a huge number of fairground attractions and even a flea circus as children’s entertainment.
The main attractions of Munich Oktoberfest are the fourteen large beer tents and twenty smaller tents where the beer serving takes place. Some tents are more popular than others with different groups, for example, the large Hofbräu-Festzelt tent has a party reputation and is popular with American, Australian, and New Zealand tourists. The Marstall tent has a larger focus on Oktoberfest traditions, with the Oktoberfest band Münchner Zwietracht playing classic holiday songs in the evenings.
A huge quantity of beer is served during the festival, with over 7.5 million liters of beer consumed at the Oktoberfest Munich in 2017. Although wine and champagne are also available in every tent, the focus is on enjoying the Märzen lager native to Bavaria which is the official Oktoberfest in Munich beer.
Apart from the local beer, visitors also have the opportunity to try the traditional Bavarian food served in the tents. The most popular food at Oktoberfest is the Wiesn-Hendl (slow-roasted chicken), but the Brez’n (giant pretzels) and Weißwurst (Bavarian sausage) also go great with all the beer.
The History of Oktoberfest
The festival has not always been the massive open celebration it is today. The original Oktoberfest at Munich took place in October 1810, when all the citizens of the city were invited to celebrate in fields outside of the city gates the wedding of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The first Oktoberfest was such a hit that it was brought back in a slightly different form the next year, and has continued ever since in the original location, now named after Princess Therese.
The festival has evolved a great deal over the years. The horse races that opened the first event were discontinued in 1960, while other sporting events such as bowling and tree climbing were phased out at the end of the 19th century. The Oktoberfest in Munich venues were originally large dance floors but changed to sit-down beer halls to make more room for the ever-increasing number of guests.
Oktoberfest Munich costumes
One of the most fun aspects of Munich Oktoberfest is the traditional Bavarian costumes worn by everyone in attendance. Dressing up is not obligatory but the local population takes great pride in donning kitsch historical attire and appreciate it if you join in. Men typically wear Lederhosen overalls, traditional attire for farm workers, while women wear the Dirndl, typically associated with Bavarian housemaids.
It’s advised to avoid wearing other kinds of fancy dress during Oktoberfest at Munich as it could be seen as disrespectful and draw negative attention from locals.
How to book Oktoberfest Munich beer tents?
In order to enjoy the local Bavarian beer, it’s advised to first book a place in one of the beer tents at the Oktoberfest Munich. The large number of tourists make booking a reservation necessary, especially if you want to celebrate in one of the larger tents.
Making a beer tent reservation can be difficult as each tent has its own booking system that opens at different times of the year. Reservations must be made in groups of 8-10 people and reservations made by locals who have held a table for generations are prioritized, so it’s advised to make a beer tent booking well in advance of the Oktoberfest in Munich.
Where to stay for Oktoberfest Munich?
It’s recommended to stay at a hotel or hostel in Munich during Oktoberfest. Getting to Oktoberfest from Munich is easy as the venue, Theresienwiese, is literally right in the city center. However, the large number of tourists who visit Munich during Oktoberfest means planning to book lodging in Munich well in advance of Oktoberfest is advised.
If you find that hotels and hostels in Munich are already booked out for the duration of Oktoberfest, then you could book a stay in one of the surrounding cities. A stay in
Freising, Pasing, or Augsburg are not bad options if you don’t mind a bit of a commute.