Have you been dying to go to Munich for Oktoberfest and unsure on how to make it happen? Do you know where it's located, what the tent options are, what to do outside of drinking beer? Bubbly Tourist is here to ease your worries by providing you with the basic facts about Oktoberfest in Munich and what the key things are that you need to know.
First things First
When is Oktoberfest?
You might think it takes place in October, but that's when it ends. The exact dates vary slightly each year but it is mostly in September, going from mid- to late-September to usually the first Sunday in October. Fun fact: it started as the wedding celebration between Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in October of 1810 and the locals loved it so much that the celebration has been held each year since. Oktoberfest was ultimately moved to September because of the longer days and warmer weather and is so successful that it brings in revenue of approximately €1.4 billion into the city of Munich.
Where exactly is it located?
Every year, it takes place in the same 100 acre fairground called Theresienwiese which is not far from Munich's Old Town. It's a 15 minute walk from the main train station (Munich Hauptbahnhof). The main entrance into the fairgrounds is called Nordeingang Theresienwiese Oktoberfest which you can google map directly to. Alternatively, you can also take the U4 or U5 tube/metro line and get off at the appropriately named Thereseienwiese stop, which is only a 4 minute walk.
How much does it cost?
It's free to get in. Say what?! Yep, it's free. You can walk right into the fairgrounds and enjoy the madness around you without it costing anything. You can also walk straight into the main tents as long as the doors are open. Some areas like Oide Wiesn cost a little to get in, but more on that later.
What else is there to do than drink beer?
Oktoberfest is like a very, very large fair on steroids. It is massive with the set up alone taking 3 months each year. There is a family friendly carnival ride section that includes quite the collection of rides and there are also food and drink tents outside of the main beer tents. It's not all about drinking beer, so feel free to bring kids and enjoy the rides. If you can only drink so much beer or there are members of your group that don't, don't fret there is also a wine tent called the Nymphenburg Sekt or you can get cocktails at other sheds. There's plenty of food outside the main tents too in case you want other alternatives.
Need a break with something hilarious to do and see?
Do yourself a favor and check out the ride, the Tuefelsrad ("the Devil's Wheel"). It is absolutely hilarious to see and fun to try! The object is to be the last person on the ride for as long as you can stay on. The floor spins and the centrifugal force flings people off. Then the swinging ball tries to unbalance you while the hosts try to tangle you up with large ropes they fling at you. It might be better to see it for yourself.
What is Oktoberfest really like?
There may be a misconception that Oktoberfest is all stumbling drunks with people puking everywhere. But as Bubbly Tourist found out, it really isn't that all. First of all, there is the family area as mentioned above with the carnivals rides where people seem to be having more fun with the rides. Secondly, the beer halls like to keep things controlled and won't let you get stinking drunk. Chugging will get you kicked out, so the environment is like controlled chaos. All in all, you'll definitely find your happy souls, some of which have been way over-served, but not as much as you might expect.
What you need to know about the Oktoberfest beer tent options in Munich
The Big 6 beer tents and what they are known for (per a local guide)
There are only 6 breweries - "the Big Six" - that are allowed to serve beer on the grounds. The beers that are served of course will vary by tent. These breweries will have both small and large tents and there are 17 tents in total. Whether you are in a small or a large tent, the beer, food and live bands will always help you have an absolutely unforgettable Oktoberfest experience. The large Big 6 tents and what they are known for are as follows:
Augustiner Festzelt - traditionally old school; beer served out of wooden barrels
Hacker Festzelt - singles
Hofbrau Festzelt - partying, nicknamed "the zoo"; largest and only tent with a standing section (Bubbly Tourist was here)
Lowenbrau Festzelt - Aussie tent; live band playing pop music
Paulaner Festzelt - second oldest beer tent
Schottenhamel Festzelt - Younger crowd between 18 and 35
There are 2 seatings
There is a late morning/early afternoon seating, and there is an evening seating. The times vary by tent. The earliest seating starts at 9am and the last tent closes at 11pm. For our tour reservation at Hofbrau, our seating was from 10am to 5pm. As you can imagine, the pricing evening pricing is more expensive. Afraid you may overstay your seating? Fear not, everyone is firmly escorted in a very orderly way out of the tents when their seating time is up by guys dressed in black, whistles blaring and who take no excuses.
Bubbly Tourist Bon Voyage!