Heard of Oktoberfest? The festival where everyone gets dressed up in lederhosen and dirndls to drink huge steins of beers in tents, in Munich? Well I’ve been and it was awesome. Even better than I thought it was going to be actually. Along with 100 fellow Busabouters I enjoyed the steins, the pork knuckles, the wieners, the sauerkraut and dancing on tables at the Theresienwiese grounds for 4 of the 16-day long festival. Over 8 million people join the festival every year, and if you’re planning on going, which you should be, here are my tips on how to do Oktoberfest properly.
What To Wear
One of the things I loved most about Oktoberfest was that around 80% of the people in there were dressed up. I can’t imagine how much money the shops of Munich make from selling dirndls and lederhosen but they’re a key part of the spirit of the festival. It can be pretty chilly in the tents before you start drinking, so it’s a good idea to either take a jacket or down your first pint asap. You’ll be grateful for taking the coat on your way home too, I can guarantee.
For girls dirndls start from €15 in the shops around the Hauptbahnhof Station. Remember you’ll also need a blouse to go underneath, which will be about €20. Then all you need is some sort of plait in your hair and some boots and you’re good to go. If you’re a guy things can get a little bit more expensive. The leather lederhosen starts at around €70 although you can get imitation ones from about €20. They do look a bit ‘imitation’ though. You’ll also need either a blue or red checked shirt and some of the traditional knee length woollen socks too. Hey, at least you can go as a crazy Bavarian person for Halloween!
Try The Food
There are so many food stalls at Oktoberfest, it can be difficult to commit. From potato waffles, to pretzels and more nuts than a squirrel could hope to collect in a lifetime, it’s all there. It’s also where you’ll find the cheaper options at around €2.50 for a cone of chips from the stalls. Inside the beer tents the food gets fancier. The traditional Oktoberfest fare is pork knuckle served with potato – a good option if you’re looking to line your stomach for the night’s drinking.
Some of the food coming out of the kitchens just looked incredible. I’d strongly advise you to go for one of the sharing platters between you and your friends. Otherwise you can get half chickens or my favourite, sausage with sauerkraut. Throughout the day there’ll also be merchants coming round with pretzels, wieners and pickles too. Eat everything you can.
Don’t Take Too Much Stuff
You don’t really need much at Oktoberfest, other than your cash and phone to take photos and find friends. Remember, there’s nowhere safe to put anything so you’ll have to have it on you all the time. As the day goes on and the drinks are flowing people start standing on tables to dance and nothing is safe. Keep your possessions to a minimum to avoid them getting damaged or lost.
Know How Much You’ll Spend
The two-pint steins are around €10, which, for two pints at a festival I don’t think is that bad. You will need to tip the waitress though, up to €5 is recommended per drink. It really depends on how often you want her to come back to your table. Each tent is a different price – the Busabout recommended one, where you’ll get taken on the first day, is the Lowenbrau. From my research this seemed to have the best prices, and the best atmosphere.
€10.75 stein + tip in most tents
€17.50 pork knuckle at the Lowenbrau tent
€8.50 sausages and sauerkraut at the Lowenbrau tent
€5 per ride or €9 for the rollercoaster (yes, I paid that…)
€5 to find out your alcohol intake
Have a Go At Downing Your Drink
One of the highlights of a day at Oktoberfest is to down your drink. Watch and observe. You’ll see others stand up on the table, get their mates to bring attention to them by cheering and then the whole room will join in. Some guys downed the entire stein in one, crazy. This could be one of the proudest moments of your life, give it a try!
Know Your Words
A huge part of Oktoberfest is the music they play in each tent. The ‘Ein Prosit’ song is played everywhere and you should learn the words before you go (starts with repeating Ein Prosit (Eyn Pro-zit) then goes onto Der Gemütlichkeit (Dare Gay-mute-lich-kite) meaning ‘I salute to our cozy friendship and good times we’re having together’.
Then everyone cheers’ or Prosts, now that you’re in Bravaria, and takes a drink. The whole point of this is to get people to drink more, to sell more and so you have a brilliant time. It worked. ‘Hey Baby’ is another number you’ll hear many, many times throughout the day. Often not even because the band is playing it, people just start singing. You can also expect ‘Country Roads’, ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Seven Nation Army’ too.
Explore The Different Tents
Different tents have different vibes. I tried out four over the three days I was there but definitely liked the Lowenbrau tent the best. Everyone in there was super friendly and there was a large contingent of Busabout people too. Some tents are known for being for ‘locallers’ others for older people and others for fancy people, have a look round as many as you can to see as much as possible. Make sure you’ve found a seat by 5pm though because those tents get super busy and you don’t want to be spending valuable drinking time searching for a spot to sit.
Go With Busabout
Experiencing Oktoberfest with Busabout means that you get instant friends at the hostel to experience the festival with. There’s no way I would’ve had as good a time there by myself. You also get an orientation walking tour the night before, where they took us to one of the coolest beer halls in Munich, and there’s an optional tour to Neuschwanstein Castle too.
And the bright orange free T-shirt comes in handy for something to shove on when you’re sick of your dirndl/lederhosen or you want to just pop down to get your free breakfast before getting ready. The whole Busabout group went together on the first morning, which meant we had some great vibes and we had a guide to show us how the festival worked too. Very insightful and set us up for a brilliant day.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that doing a lot of drinking in very little time can usually have undesirable consequences. If you’d like to avoid a visit to the medical tent (it’s not as exciting as the other ones and you may be charged for it!) then make sure you eat a filling breakfast before heading to the festival grounds and keep eating throughout the day. Also bear in mind that the beer served at Oktoberfest may be considerably stronger than the one you’re used to drinking at home & the quantities fairly larger than a regular can of beer. Pace yourself, and have a great time!