Did you know that Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the entire world? The number of visitors per year now stands at 6 million and counting! The festival outranks all of its rivals – it’s far more popular than Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Songkran or any other celebration that you can think of on the world stage.
It’s the international custom of uniting to pay tribute to that ubiquitous beverage: beer. It’s never going to slow down. If you are thinking about attending Oktoberfest 2016 it’s impossible to plan too soon when it comes to this monster event.
Oktoberfest has a rich and hearty history that dates back to 1810. But, it is modernising. The first thing to note is that it the festival kicks off in September rather than in its namesake month of October. This is a savvy move to attempt to make the festival more enjoyable weather-wise.
Patrons can better enjoy the outdoor gardens and fairgrounds in September than they are likely to on a potentially very frosty Bavarian October day (or worse still, evening). Traditionally, Oktoberfest starts on a late September weekend and goes for three weekends, ending on the first Sunday in October (except in 2016 when German Reunification Day on October 3 falls on the Monday and is included)
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the modern Oktoberfest experience. So? What’s new and what can you expect as an attendee in 2016? How can you stay ahead of the crowds and how can you score a seat? What’s the best way to avoid a faux pas at the fest? And, the most important question: how much will a beer cost you?
Oktoberfest 2016 will start on September 17 and end on October 3. Based on recent years it’s sure enough to say that the busiest days will be weekends (with the crowds waning towards the middle of the week). If you are there for the manic atmosphere then by all means attend on the weekend. However, if you wish to enjoy a seat along with your beer then Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays would provide the best option. Tents tend to get crowded by the evenings so it really depends on the pace you wish to set yourself as to what days and what times you attend.
Seasoned Oktoberfest veterans stress the importance of allowing days to recovery between bouts of revelry. The ideal recommendation… two, or maybe even three visits spread over a week. This allows time for a much-needed rest and also allows you to visit Munich and other destinations in Germany and Europe. But, who are we to suggest that you stick to the rules? If you have the stamina why not enjoy the full experience of what the world’s greatest fair has to offer?
Just how easy is it to get a seat at Oktoberfest? Well, as we covered already, it’s definitely harder on weekends. But, some little tips go along way when trying to get a place to rest your butt while you relish a bevy. If you are aiming to attend during the evening it helps to get there in the afternoon, ideally before 4 pm. If you have a reservation or have made a booking observe this with strict punctuality, it can be easy to miss out if you arrive late. Once you do land a table don’t ever leave it unattended even if you are starving, thirsty and badly need the toilet all in one big emergency! Always leave someone in your group at the table to keep it in reserve, empty seats will be snapped up in milliseconds.
Speaking of toilet breaks it can get pretty hectic trying to get to the loo after the drinking is in full swing. There are enough facilities in the tents in general but when it gets to the evening, or in the afternoon of the weekends, you will absolutely find a queue. If you are a man it’s not usually so bad but for women sometimes you can be waiting 20 mins at least! Ladies do be sure to stay mindful of one’s bladder capacity during peak Oktoberfest attendance times.
Also, be sure to observe other attempts at decency such as not dancing on the tables. I will admit that if you are geared up to go to Oktoberfest the idea might just be to have so much fun as to “literally dance on the tables”. However, doing so will definitely get you kicked out of your tent. The good news is you can dance on the benches as much as you like but do take utmost care to avoid stepping on the tables.
Another tip for avoiding getting in trouble (or kicked out of the fest): don’t take any glass or beer stein with you, upon leaving this can be viewed as theft (glass is also not permitted at all for safety reasons anywhere in the venue). Smoking isn’t permitted in the tents (each tent has allocated outside smoking areas). The biggest faux pas you can commit at Oktoberfest…wearing a ridiculously ostentatious novelty hat. Well, it might seem like harmless fun and who cares, really? But, keep in mind you will stand out like a sore thumb as a tourist and we all know Europeans love to be rude to these obvious types.
So, with these little tips in mind you can start planning your Oktoberfest 2016 trip now. The world’s biggest fair certainly takes some preparation. Oh, and the last FAQ…just what will a price of beer cost you at the 2016 festival? Set aside between 10 and 11 Euros per litre for this epic beer-swilling event.
Thirsty for this epic festival? Then check out these Oktoberfest 2016 tours and packages.