What the Heck is Oktoberfest’s Oide Wiesn?
Because sometimes Oktoberfest can get a little nuts, it’s nice to be able to leave the madness of the beer tents and head over to a more chilled out… time period. (Wait, huh?) You’ve had a long day at the ‘Fest and you’re exhausted—relax, the 1800s are waiting for you. (Have you lost your mind?) No, I haven’t lost my mind–I’m talking about Oktoberfest’s Oide Wiesn and those tricksters have time travel down to a science.
WHAT IS THE OIDE WIESN?
You probably didn’t even know that our beloved Munich Oktoberfest has an entire section that loved the 19th century so much it decided to stay. I totally get it—hello… monocles? Sexy, right? But what sounds like a Stephen King novel is actually Oktoberfest’s Oide Wiesn (“Old Wiesn” or “Old Oktoberfest”), an entire section of the park carrying on the ways and traditions of the original Oktoberfest.
The Oide Wiesn opened in 2010 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest and was so loved that it became a permanent Oktoberfest institution. You can find it in the southern part of the Theresienwiese (walk down past the Paulaner and Löwenbräu tents, wave to the Bavaria statue and keep going past the Skyfall, and the Oide Wiesn will be on your right–actually, just check out this map) and it’s the only part of the park that charges admission. But really, 3€ for some authentic time travel is a damn good deal if my multiple viewings of Back to the Future have taught me anything. Those 3€ will get you an all-day wristband (children 14 and under are free) and you can come and go from the Oide Wiesn as you please.
Here at the Oide Wiesn you’ll find nostalgic rides and games, uber-traditional costumes, dancing, and singing, and, of course, beer tents because the more things change, the more things stay the same. Huzzah!
WHAT TO DO AT THE OIDE WIESN
Oktoberfest’s Oide Wiesn is loaded up with all the 19th century fun you can handle. You’ll find folk festivals, folk costumes, 1800s-style horse racing, an animal tent (oh, please tell me there’s a mustachioed lion tamer inside!), and a museum tent showcasing the history of Oktoberfest. ⇠ There’s a historic sausage grill in here so I think it’s safe to say the Oide Wiesn be poppin’ like Opa’s suspenders after a few litres.
You can find historic rides like merry-go-rounds and the Calypso, traditional games like throwing and shooting contests, and even a marionette theatre. But don’t let the merry-go-round fool you—the Oide Wiesn isn’t the raucous throw-down I’m making it out to be. A big draw to the Oide Wiesn is the temporary escape from the craziness of modern Oktoberfest. It’s a bit quieter here, with less hustle and bustle (bustle is probably an 1800s word, right?), and probably a lot less food being thrown.
WHERE TO GO AT THE OIDE WIESN
If you make it past the merry-go-round (I know, you thought it couldn’t get any better!), you’ll find the Oide Wiesn has four main tents, in three of which you can drink beer out of traditional clay mugs. You know the word stein means “stone”, don’t you?
The museum tent I just mentioned shows off the history of Oktoberfest. A little learning between litres never hurt anyone. The Museumzelt is open from 10:00 – 22:00.
This tent, whose name means “To the Beauty Queen”, is built to resemble a classic Munich tavern atmosphere. Servers wear traditional dresses—like, way more traditional than dirndls, but I dig it—and this tent is the Oktoberfest place-to-be for folk singers, comedians, cabaret, and vaudeville. They serve Hofbräu beer, traditional Munich dishes and vegan and vegetarian stuff so, it’s still a lil’ modern.
Seating is inside: 690, garden: 200. Just a wee cosy tavern.
First of all, this tent is called “Heart Punch” so I’m intrigued already. The Herzkasperl Festzelt serves Hacker Pschorr beer and is another known for its musical and theatrical performances but is more than double the size of the Zur Schönheitskonigin. One absolutely fantastic thing about this tent is its dedicated dance floor—no bench-dancing here. You’re free to flail about as you wish.
Seating is inside: 1,500, garden: 1,000. That’s a lot of flailing.
The Festzelt Tradition is the biggest of the tents that are trying to be more chill than the rest of the Oktoberfest tents. Like the Herzkasperl, this tent features a specially built dance floor but unlike it the Festzelt Tradition serves Augustiner. Here you’ll find brass bands, traditional Bavarian costumes and dancers, and probably a lot of kids with their focus on family fun and all.
Seating is inside: 5,000, garden: 3,000.
If you’re into time travel as much as I am, you can’t miss a chance to experience the Oide Wiesn. It’s open from 10:00 – 22:00 with last admission at 21:00 and last drinks being served at 21:30. Admission to the Oide Wiesn is 3€ and beers will run you between 10,60 and 10,70 Euros so… NOT EVEN CLOSE to 1800s prices.