Steins before swines
What’s known as Oktoberfest to the rest of the world is called Wies’n by locals, after Theresenwiese park where it’s held. The event that preceded the annual Oktoberfest was the marriage of Prince Ludwing of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony in October 1810 where Münich residents were invited to celebrate the royal nuptials with horse races in a meadow (wies’n) the main entertainment. This celebration proved so popular it became a regular event. In 1818, brewers’ tents were added to the now-yearly event and in 2014, around 6.3 million local and international revellers descended on Münich to knock back a combined 6.4 million litres of beer during Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest features 14 massive beer tents, of which nine belong to local breweries and the rest are national brewing companies. Up to 8,500 people can be accommodated in these massive multi-storey tents and to keep ordering simple (and easy to remember), there’s only one beer on offer in each tent – a specially brewed Oktoberfest-Bier served in one-litre steins. Can’t face another ale? There’s plenty more happening around the grounds including a huge amusement park with rides plus food stands offering huge pretzels (brezen), roast pork (schweinbraten) and roasted pork knuckle (eisbein).
When is it?
Tips and tricks
Oktoberfest is hugely popular, so make sure you book accommodation well in advance or do a tour where your accommodation and some meals are included.
To get a spot in a beer tent without a reservation, the best time to go to Oktoberfest is during the week, before 6pm on Fridays and after 6pm on Sundays.
If you’re making your own way to Oktoberfest, the closest U-Bahn stations are Theresienwiese, Schwanthalerhöhe or Goetheplatz.
While not mandatory attire, most revellers wear traditional Bavarian costumes – lederhosen for guys and dirndl dresses for the ladies.
Pace yourself – the Oktoberfest-Bier has a hefty alcohol count so watch your intake less you be labelled a bierleichen (a beer corpse)!
And if you want that stein for a souvenir? Leave your serving glass to the beer wenches – security intercepted 112,000 people from taking their stein home in 2014. Go for the souvenir mini beer stein instead – lighter in your luggage!