Oktoberfest: what to know before you go

So, you've decided to go to Oktoberfest. Prepping for the Holy Grail of beer festivals isn't just about drinking as much beer as possible. Before you cross this one off the bucket list, here's everything you want to know before you go:

Oktoberfest grounds

Oktoberfest grounds

 

What to wear:

First things first: if you're going to dress up for Oktoberfest (which pretty much everyone does), you have to think about it somewhat ahead of time. Men traditionally wear lederhosen with checkered shirts, while women wear dirndls. You can purchase these in Munich, or you can buy them online beforehand. While that seems easy enough... ladies, there's something you have to know about tying the bow: placement matters. Tying your apron bow on the left means you're single, right means you're taken, and tying it in the middle (the most common mistake) means you're a virgin 😳

RIP silver shoes

RIP silver shoes

Feeling v German

Feeling v German

The next thing you'll want to remember is to wear cheap shoes. Don't take this one lightly. By the end of Oktoberfest, you'll most likely have a combination of beer, food, coffee, and/or puke on your shoes, and you're probably going to want to throw them out. Do yourself a favor and bring ones you won't be sad about losing. My last piece of advice is to find a cute bag or fanny pack since backpacks aren't allowed in the fest. 

 

what to bring:

This isn't a long list, but an important one. First, make sure you bring cash. Admission is free, but everything else at Oktoberfest is cash-only, with steins running about 10 Euro each. There are some ATMs, but the lines are long, and if you're going to wait in line for something, make it a beer tent. 75-100€ per day should be enough to cover beer, food, games, rides, and whatever else. 

IMG_4658.jpg

Second, bring a backup phone charger. The festival spans over 100 acres, and losing friends is sometimes inevitable. Oktoberfest has 14 mega beer tents that seat up to 8,500 people, most with beer gardens serving thousands more. There are also 20 smaller beer tents - serving anywhere from 60 to 900 people. So even if you end up in the right one, locating friends isn't always easy.

Inside Paulaner tent

Inside Paulaner tent

Inside Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu tent

Inside Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu tent

Trust me when I say that you're going to want your phone☝️

 
 

what to do when you can't get a seat:

You have to be inside a beer tent to get served at Oktoberfest. Some require you to have a seat, while others have standing rooms to accommodate more guests. It's relatively easy to find a place to sit during the week (even on Friday), but weekends are another story. Tents fill up pretty quickly, and once they're at capacity, they stop letting people in. If you're really gung-ho about a certain tent, you can make a reservation (some people do this months in advance), but it might cost ya. So what do you do when you can't find a seat? 

Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu tent

Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu tent

First, head out to the beer garden. Most of the Oktoberfest mega beer tents have outdoor areas that seat thousands more people. It's usually a little easier to find somewhere to sit outside, but you won't get the live music that you would in a tent. Otherwise everything is pretty similar, and you get to enjoy the fresh air. 

Inside Hofbräuhaus tent

Inside Hofbräuhaus tent

If that isn't happening, try to head to a tent with standing room such as Hofbräuhaus, and scout out seats when people leave. Pro tip: When you find a seat on a busy afternoon, resist the urge to leave after one beer and head somewhere else.

Outside Lowenbrau tent

Outside Lowenbrau tent

And if all else fails, make friends with someone who has room at their table, and create lifelong connections (maybe). 

 

what to do so you don't become that guy:

No one wants to be the guy who needs to be carried out of Oktoberfest because he drank too much. The first way to avoid this seems obvious, but make sure to EAT. Trust me, you're going to feel full from all the beer, but your future self (and your friends) will thank you. You'll find bomb food around the fest - from traditional German bratwursts and pretzels, to not so traditional grilled mackerel. As you can imagine that smelled lovely.

Bratwurst

Bratwurst

Grilled mackerel

Grilled mackerel

You can also order food in each of the tents, and no joke - they bring it out so fast. Each tent specializes in a different food - Fischer Vroni serves smoked fish, and Ochsenbraterei roasts an ox on a spit. The beer maids also walk around with different snacks... some that are just too hard to resist, like doughnuts the size of your head. If the food isn't helping, the tents also serve radler (beer mixed with lemonade) which can help you rehydrate... sort of.  

 

what you might want to (but don't need to) know:

Each mega tent at Oktoberfest has it's own beer and it's own personality with extravagant decor. You'll find a live band in almost every tent, playing everything from American classics to decades-old German jams. But the song you'll hear over and over again? Ein Prost. You can learn it ahead of time, or not... because you're bound to know all the words (or at least pretend you do) by the end of the first day. 

Singing 'Ein Prost' at Hofbräuhaus

Singing 'Ein Prost' at Hofbräuhaus

Lyrics to Ein Prost

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit

After the song, everyone raises their glasses and says: “Oans, zwoa, drei, Gsuffa!” meaning “one, two, three, drink!”.

Essential German Words: 

Hallo: Hello
Bitte: Please
Danke: Thank you
Prost: Cheers
Wo ist das bier?: Where's the beer

Just make sure you look people in the eye when you say prost, or it's seven years bad sex 😉


My last piece of advice - Munich is beautiful and totally worth visiting... just make sure you do this before the fest.

View from St. Peter's Church

View from St. Peter's Church

English Gardens

English Gardens

Remember these things, and you'll have an Oktoberfest experience to remember (well, maybe). Share your best Oktoberfest tips in the comments! Prost 🍻 👀