Oktoberfest Survival Guide

Oktoberfest Survival Guide

Beer. Giant pretzels. Lederhosen and dirndls. October is almost over, and you know what that means? Time to start planning for next year's Oktoberfest!

First beer. At which point we all look like normal humans, able to communicate with words and not only by singing German drinking songs.

First beer. At which point we all look like normal humans, able to communicate with words and not only by singing German drinking songs.

Ever since my first time in Munich I've taken it upon myself to convince everyone I meet to join next time. You could call me an unofficial Oktoberfest Ambassador. An important role which pays nothing, even though it should, because half of my Instagram stories are about dirndls and beer.*

In line with this mission, I've decided to share some wise words with anyone who has not yet been but considering booking a ticket.

A brief description of Oktoberfest 

The basic premise of Oktoberfest is simple and therein lays its charm. You sit at large tables with friends. You drink beer in glasses bigger than your head. You talk, sing and cheer with everyone you make eye-contact with. The music starts with traditional German songs and then escalates with every cheer. This playlist will give you a good idea of what to expect.

The festival goes by the local name Wiesn and runs for about 16-18 days, ending in the beginning of October. There's no entrance fee, but you have to get to the tents early to secure a spot. 

Also, the event is run with the efficiency you would expect from Germany. Sorry for enforcing the stereotype, but can you imagine a festival where you never have to stand in line to the bathroom? Just that makes it worth a visit.

Where to stay

 

The priciest part of Oktoberfest is usually accommodation, although it might depend on your beer drinking skills. It’s going to be expensive and you need to book well in advance. I stayed in Airbnb’s both times and would recommend booking six to three months beforehand. The sooner, the better.

The local transportation in Munich works well, so if you have to stay a bit further away from the area, it’s not a big problem. 

Dress the part

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If you’re going to do Oktoberfest, you ought to do it properly. I bought my dirndl (traditional Bavarian dress) here last year, and this year I accidentally walked past a trachten** outlet in Berlin and ended up with another dress (damn you, pretty dirndls). Amazon is a great option too, and if you aren’t sure of the style that suits you, there are plenty of places to shop in Munich. As long as it doesn’t cut into the beer drinking time, of course. 

Advice from local friends is to not buy the cheapest option since it will be obvious from miles away and make you look like a "dumb tourist" (their words, not mine). If you need dirndl inspiration,  Pinterest is a reliable source. 

Plan your time

Get to the tents early, especially if you’re going on a weekend and you're in a larger group. Aim for around noon and you should be fine. Pick your spot with care - you'll be there for at least ten hours. 

Two days of Wiesn partying is usually enough. I would recommend staying for 3-4 nights and have a day of exploring Munich in between the beer drinking. It's a gorgeous city. 

The feather was 5 euros extra. Totally worth it, with the logic of someone who just had six liters of beer.

The feather was 5 euros extra. Totally worth it, with the logic of someone who just had six liters of beer.

Cash rules

One liter of beer will set you back about 10-11 euros, and you pay cash. Make sure you have all the money you need for a night, and not more.

Because, if you have more, you’re likely to spend it all on things that you may or may not feel like a great idea the next day.

Like hats. 

Eat properly

So excited I don't know whether to laugh or cry. 

So excited I don't know whether to laugh or cry. 

Beer have the unfortunate consequence of making me feel like I've eaten two pizzas, a burger and a chocolate bar, when I've actually only had two bites of someone else's old pretzel for 12 hours.

This is not a great strategy. 

What a better grown-up than me would do is to eat a proper lunch before heading to the tent, order some food while in the tent and, of course, embrace the munchies when the tent closes 22.30. Nothing tastes better than bratwurst at that point, trust me. 

Don't try to outdrink your friends

This is important advice. Seriously. They have this thing where if you stand on the table and start chugging your beer, the whole tent starts cheering you on. That’s encouraging. And it might result in someone getting really drunk, and that, my friends, is not good. Because …

You’re a team - if one goes down, so does the rest of you

As we learned the hard way this year, if one person in the group messes up***, you're all out. In a very respectful and efficient way, but still. Your precious seats are gone and you're out in the cold again, wandering the festival trying to find a seat at 17.30. Yeah, good luck.

Did I miss anything? 

Send me a comment and I'll add the answer!


* Totally open for sponsorships.
** Another word for the traditional garments in German speaking countries.
*** Not me, for the record.