Bucket list admission. While you may see me with a glass of champagne in hand, I DO love beer as well (I think it’s the bubbles), so it’s no surprise that Oktoberfest in Munich is on my “must do” list. While I’ll be here in the states finding a local Octoberfest celebration, for those on the go…here are some tips for experiencing this 180 year old festival like a local.
The perfect outfit
A dirndl dress for the “Madln” (Bavarian for girls) and leather trousers (Lederhos’n) for the “Buam” (Bavarian for guys) are a must have for Oktoberfest! You can either buy them online or, for a perfect fit, in a traditional local store. German designer Natascha Grün runs a successful online dirndl rental site ($87 a day) which you can check out prior to visiting the event.
Mastering the language
Sometimes even native Germans have difficulties understanding the Bavarian dialect. Here are some basics that you should know such as “Servus!”-”Hi!” and “Prost!” -”Cheers!”. You’ll also learn “I mog di!”-”I like you!” which you can find on many gingerbread hearts in the food stalls. But don’t worry, with Australians, Italians, Americans and others, the staff are well-versed in taking orders in English (or just use hand signals).
Choosing the right tent
It is true that the Oktoberfest-visitor doesn’t have it easy: with 14 tents to choose from and each one more awesome than the other. The biggest and most famous one with 10,000 seats is the Hofbräu tent. It also is frequented most by tourists from all over the world. If you want to rub noses with German VIP’s and politicians head to the Käferzelt. Tents do have a seating limit, so getting in line early is important. This website displays up-to-date information on availability in the tents: Oktoberfest
What to order (“Schmankerl”)
In 2012, 6.5 million people visited the Oktoberfest drinking a total of 14.5 million pints of beer. But the “Wiesn” is not only known for beer, but also for its traditional and delicious food. You should try “Weisswurst” (Bavarian veal sausage), “Brezn” (pretzels) or “halbes Hendl” (roasted half chicken), just to name a few.
Take the basics
Take the basics with you and leave wallets and purses at home. Also only take cash depending on how much you’ll drink as credit cards are not accepted in the tents. In 2013, the prices for a “Maß” – one liter of Oktoberfest beer – will be between $12.55 and $13.15. Lastly, but most importantly, take your ID with you.
From Dusk til Dawn
The tents of the Oktoberfest close their doors at 10:30pm every night. But that doesn’t mean that the party is over! You can turn night into day for example at the Wiesnzelt at Stiglmaierplatz which hosts an “Almdudler After-Oktoberfest-Party” every night from 10pm. Getting around at night is easy: There are a bunch of taxis outside the Oktoberfest so you don’t have to wait in a mile long line. But if you aren’t lucky, just call a cab at +49 89 21610. If push comes to shove, jump in one of the three subway stations surrounding Theresienwiese, the site of Oktoberfest.
Having fun and making new friends
Don’t be shy: Wearing the apron bow on the right means that a girl is off the market, while the opposite is true for wearing it on the left. And if you can’t make it to Germany (which would be a shame!), there are Oktoberfests around the world, for example in Kitchener and Waterloo (Canada), Blumenau (Brazil) and Denver (USA).
Photo credit: 46137 / Foter / CC BY