Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival held each year in Munich, Germany towards the end of September. Around 6 million people across the world attend this event over a period of 2 weeks. It is certainly one of its kind and if you’re a beer lover, you should totally attend it at least once.
Here are a few things you should know if you’re not from Munich and attending Oktoberfest for the first time:
- Getting there: The public transportation system in Munich is great. The rail network run by Deutsche Bahn is spread to almost every nook and corner of this vibrant city. The trains are either S-bahn (run on ground) or U-Bahn (Underground). The nearest underground train station to get to Oktoberfest is Theresienwiese. The entire city is divided into Zones for travel purposes. So, if you’re coming via train , you need to buy ticket which will get you to the inner zone of the city (where Theresienwiese is). From Theresienwiese , it is just a 5 min walk to get to the Oktoberfest fairgrounds (Popularly known as Weisn). There are plenty of boards to direct you to the grounds but in case you still can’t locate, just ask and people will be happy to help.
- Luggage: If you’re in the city just to see the fest and are traveling to/from another city/country with your luggage, it’s very possible to do so. The moment you reach the entry gates of the grounds, there is a facility for you to deposit your luggage. They charge 6-8 EUR per bag depending on the size of the bag. One thing that I didn’t know was that they don’t allow bags bigger than a certain size to be carried inside the grounds and their criteria is very subjective! They allowed my friend to carry a small backpack inside and didn’t allow my same sized bag to be carried inside. So, I would suggest carrying just a sling with yourself to avoid all the hassle. I also realised that there are cheaper luggage lockers available at Hauptbahnoff (The central train station) which rent out lockers from 6 hours upto 72 hours. And there are many many of them so you can try those as well.
- What day is the best: Since it’s the largest beer fest, it attracts crowds on all days alike and at almost all times of the day. But, if you don’t have prior reservations at any of the Beer tents, I would suggest going there on a weekday rather. It’s easier to enter the grounds but the Beer tents would have limited space and a limited number of people they can cater to (which by the way is huge). What we realised was that it’s easier to get entry on a weekday noon (even on a Friday) than on a Saturday morning. What this means is that you can place the order at the tent for foods and drinks, but you can’t enter due to the long wait times in queues. So, plan your travel accordingly.
- A place for all: Who said that you can’t enjoy the fest if your kids are accompanying you? Okoberfest is not just about beer. It’s a large carnival for people of all ages. The moment you enter the grounds, you’d be welcomed by the grounds looking like a large fair for kids enjoying various rides and activities. There are different varieties of fruit chocolates and candies that kids (and even adults) can gorge on. It’s just that it was cold and windy when we got there so make sure the kids are covered and ready for the outdoor fun. Some kids were accompanying parents to the beer tents as well and I think there is a time limit till when the kids can stay in the tents. It’s best to check beforehand.
- What to wear: The traditional Bavarian costumes that most wear to the Oktoberfest are simply beautiful. I couldn’t help but observe all women dressed beautifully in Drindls and the men looking handsome in Lenderhosen. You can buy these costumes or rent these out for ~50EUR. You can never be overdressed for this event. Any amount of makeup you apply is fair.
- Where to go: Once you cross the carnival area, you’ll hit the lane with beer tents. The first one I encountered was the Augustiner Beer tent and it’s the oldest one here. The entry to this one is free. A very large tent with one of the best beers I have had to date. It has got some comfortable seating arrangements and they also serve at the bar. There are plenty of clean washrooms too. Even if you can’t enter the tent because it’s a weekend and you don’t have a prior reservation), they take your order and serve drinks and food outside. The food and the drinks across tents are expensive so expect to shell out 8-11EUR for 500ml of beer. In fact, many people start drinking on their way to the fest which is a cheaper way of filling yourself up and have fewer drinks at the tents and just enjoy without ending up with a huge bill at the end of the day.