Best known for its annual beer festival, the city of Munich transforms each autumn into a hedonist’s paradise welcoming a growing 6 million revellers who pour into the city centre beer-eyed and bushy-tailed to take on over two weeks of delightful, drunken debauchery.

A first-timer to the festival? Don’t worry, our guide to visiting Oktoberfest has you covered.

Oktoberfest Munich

Called Wiesn by the locals, the world’s most famous booze-fest showcases the best of Bavaria: beer, bites and beautifully clad, boisterous bacchants.

When is Oktoberfest?

As October is mentioned it its name, it’s easy to see why so many get confused to learn that the action actually starts in September and ends on the first Sunday in October. In 2019, you can catch the Oktoberfest action from Saturday 21st September – Sunday 6th October.

Toasting Oktoberfest

How can I get to Oktoberfest?

Taking place on the fields of Theresienwiese near Munich City Centre, the event is easy to get to. Choose a brisk 15-minute walk from the central Hauptbahnhof’ station or simply catch the U‑Bahn to Theresienwiese station. Because it can get busy, we recommend walking the streets with the crowds to soak up the atmosphere from the start.

Oktoberfest

Why is Oktoberfest celebrated?

The first Oktoberfest was held in October of 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. In honour of their new matrimony, Munich’s citizens were invited to Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Meadow) to eat, drink and make merry memories in the company of live music and entertaining parades. Even today you can find doting monarchists raising krug” to honour the old lord and lady who made it all possible.

The success of the event allowed it to become an annual festival commemorated each year but so that guests could enjoy the atmosphere in warmer weather, it was moved back into September to take advantage of the longer days and the sun’s rays.

Tents Oktoberfest

A Breakdown of Beer Tents at Oktoberfest:

The main events take place in various beer tents around the arena. Picking the right tent can make or break your whole experience so make sure to swot up. 

Schottenhamel: The Best Beer Tent For Flirting

Dating back to 1867, Schottenhamel is one of the oldest tents at Oktoberfest and according to many, the most important. At 12 p.m. sharp on Oktoberfest’s opening day, Munich’s Mayor kicks off the festival right here by tapping the first keg of beer and declaring O’zapft is!

This is one of the largest Oktoberfest tents with nearly 10,000 seats and it is the place to party for young people. In fact, it’s nicknamed Das Zelt der Jugend genannt (the tent of youth) because of the hordes of young, flirtatious students and graduates who flock here in masses to make the most of their weekend.

Marstall: The Best Beer Test For Food

The newest tent and one of first you will see when entering Oktoberfest, Marstall has quickly peaked in popularity. 

Designed for those who prefer classy affairs, golden horses watch as 3,000 guests come to sample the flavours on offer. Chief chef Hubert Kayr spoils partygoers to excellent cuisine, including mouth-watering vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, all to be washed down with the house speciality: Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu.

Armbrustschützen-Festhalle: The Best Beer Tent For Speciality Sports

Popular among the older locals, the litres of Paulaner beer sees the tent get very busy and atmospheric. 

While the bands play classic hits to light up the night, the highlight remains the annual German crossbow championships that take place here. So if you’re up for a game, make sure you’re in line for the competition.

Hacker: The Best Tent For Tradition

With almost 10,000 seats, Hacker is another of the large tents at Oktoberfest. Designed by Oscar-winner Rolf Zehetbauer, it’s dubbed Himmel der Bayern’, the heaven of Bavarians’, which is reflected in the characterful audience and the ceiling which radiates the colours of the Bavarian flag.

For lovers of tradition, this tent should be on your list. Mix and mingle with Munich’s residents and marvel at the murals and motifs that display beautiful Bavarian landscapes.

Augustiner Festhalle: The Best Beer Tent For Families

Even families are welcomed at Oktoberfest and on Tuesday, you’ll find them all at Augustiner Festhalle.

The staff here are friendly and accommodating to the needs of little ones and what’s more, on both Tuesdays of the event, the hosts offer families reduced prices.

Food Oktoberfest

Beer-free options at Oktoberfest

Everyone is welcome at Oktoberfest including non-beer drinkers, though the elixir is the essence of the event. If you’re making the effort to go, you probably should try the tipple. 

Start with Radlers. A 50/50 mix of lemon soda and beer, Radlers are a delicious and refreshing introduction to the world of beer, giving you a teaser without too much of that taste. If it’s definitely not for you, head to the Weinzelt — the wine tent for, well, you guessed it, wine. 

There are also non-alcoholic options as well in the form of non-alcoholic beer, juice and water and a few regional favourites such as apfelschorle, a sparkling apple drink, or Spezi, a 50/50 mix of Coke and Fanta.

Outfits Oktoberfest

What to wear to Oktoberfest 

Why waste an opportunity to don a dirndl or lederhosen? If you want to make the most of Munich’s main event, get in the spirit with the correct attire. 

Be warned though, making a mockery of the traditional wear won’t be forgiven, so no short, scandalous dirndls for the ladies or lazy lederhosen knock-offs for gents. Paris Hilton was previously banned from attending for cheapening the festival with her inappropriate get up, so take note.

Even the details count — tying the traditional alpine dress on the left means you are available; while the right shows you’re taken. Placed in the centre means you’re a virgin, and in the back means you’re widowed — or perhaps just a waitress.

Lederhosen oktoberfest

Phrases you should know before visiting Oktoberfest

If you want an authentic experience, it’s recommended you learn a few German words and phrases before you go. Here are a few to know:

- Hallo (hah-lo) – Hello!

- Tschüß (choo-ssss) – Bye!

- Danke (dahn-keh)– Thanks

- Bitte (bit-uh) – Please

- Eine Maß, bitte (eyen- mass bit-uh) – A beer, please

- Bayern — (Bay-urn) — Bavaria

But of all the words to learn, Prost (Cheers) is the most important. There will be plenty of opportunities to practice your prost at Oktoberfest so when someone raises a glass, make sure to raise yours, look them in their eyes, clink glasses and shout the magic words. 

The consequences of neglecting this ritual? A curse to both parties for seven years of bad sex. You’ve been warned.

Oktoberfest at night

Keen to see more of Munich after the event? Make sure to check out our top recommendations for visiting Munich.

Choice Hotels in Munich