Octoberfest takes place each year in Munich, Germany. U.S. travelers, who have heard of this beer drinking festival, but who have not yet had the experience might find the adventure surprising. Tree Hut made it to the festival this year, and found a few things quite surprising.
First surprise: Oktoberfest is in September.
Though Oktoberfest seems to imply that the gathering will take place in October, it actually takes place mostly in September. It starts mid-September and ends after the first week of October. After summer break, German universities begin again in October. So September is the last month were students can party hard before they work harder.
Second surprise: The traditional Oktoberfest Clothing is not a Costume
If you aren’t partaking in Oktoberfest dress, you will stick out of the crowd, like a wedding guest wearing white at a wedding. Though you might think, lederhosen and dirndls are reserved solely for Oktoberfest, this is actually traditional Bavarian and Southern German clothing attire. This style of dress is considered fancy and not customy. In fact, outside of Oktoberfest, you will see someone wearing either lederhosen or dirndls every day of the year in Munich.
Third surprise: The tens are large semi-permanent structures
If you haven’t already been to Oktoberfest, the grandness of each tent might surprise you. There are different tents and each serves one type of beer in a pint glass. The tents are large enough to hold 10,000 drinkers and have doors guarded by security teams. If you’re like me, you might have imagined temporary white tents lined along a meadow. But these tents are built on asphalt out of steel and have wood floors. People line up at the entrances as early as 6 am to get a table without a reservation. Find a table in the middle and hold it for as long as you want, or go for a table on the exterior of the dance floor. It’s less crowded out there, but you’re limited to a two-hour sitting. The alternative is paying to reserve a table. Though you’ll only have the table for two-hours.
Bonus surprise about the tents: This is the only place you can get a beer.
If you don’t have a table, stand on the dance floor in front of the live band and grab a passing server to order beer. If you can’t get into a tent, you’re out of luck. Small groups without a reservation have the advantage. Ideally a two-person group is the perfect size for tent hopping without a reservation.
Fourth surprise: There’s more than just drinking, there are carnival rides too.
As you walk up to the Oktoberfest entrance, you might find it odd that so many families are joining the festivities. However, it’s not just about getting rip roaring drunk. There are also plenty of rides to turn the inebriated stomach and thus should be reserved for the sober. But there are also a few rides the drunkards can enjoy like slow moving roller coasters. There’s even a water roller coaster in case the beating afternoon sun is too hot for you.
Last minute tips
In the early morning, the live band plays German music. In the afternoon, the band plays international music. So if you’re looking for a more culturally German experience, get into the tents early. The festival is open to 11 but by night, the crowd is mostly tourists.
Looking for cheap accommodations for Oktoberfest? Try stoked travel. They host camping, have all the equipment (minus the pillow), and offer free meals and a few free drinks. It’s a great place for young people to continue the party and almost everyone is an English speaker. On the downside, it’s half an hour away, by bus and tram. Also make sure to check the weather in advance. If it’s raining during your stay, you might want to pass on camping.
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