Everything about Oktoberfest Munich, Germany for the thirsty traveller – from beer tent tickets to accommodation tips, here is everything you need to know.
About the Festival
- About Oktoberfest Munich, Germany
- History of Oktoberfest in Munich
- When is Oktoberfest?
- Where is Oktoberfest in Munich?
Other Oktoberfest Info
- Oktoberfest Beer & Food
- Beer Tent Tickets & Reservations
- Rides, Parades & Music
- Oktoberfest by the Numbers
- What to wear to Oktoberfest
About Oktoberfest Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest Munich, Germany is the world’s largest celebration of Bavarian culture—the area of Bavaria being the southeast corner of Germany famous for beers, brats, and its use of bustiers. Millions of visitors travel millions of miles (okay, maybe that’s a stretch) each year to Munich to experience their share of the 2-week long festival. Though Oktoberfest Munich, Germany is a huge part of Bavarian culture and thirsty visitors do come from all over the world, the trademark Oktoberfest celebration has been copied in countless other countries—two of the largest being Oktoberfest Blumenau in Brazil and Oktoberfest Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada—as if there was any wonder that celebrating beer has universal appeal.
History of Oktoberfest in Munich
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany dates back to October 12, 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig married that babe Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Generous folks they were, they invited the citizens of Munich to attend the celebration on the fields outside the city gates—what we know today as the Theresienwiese—and the rest is history Oktoberfest. This five-day wedding celebration was mostly about a horse race but, c’mon, you know there was beer there. The next year (and every year hence) there was massive demand to repeat the celebration and Therese, now Queen of Bavaria, stepped out onto her balcony and was all, “Let them drink beer!” At least, that’s how we imagine it went down.
Ever since, Oktoberfest Munich, Germany has only gotten bigger and bigger. They incorporated more horse races, an agricultural show, tree climbing (huh?), bowling alleys, carnival booths, parades, and swings. Swings, you guys. Were those ladies and gents ready to PAR-TAY or what!? Oktoberfest Munich, Germany has been going strong for over 200 years now and has only not been celebrated 24 times (mostly due to World Wars I and II).
When is Oktoberfest?
Well for starters, it’s not in October. Oktoberfest Munich, Germany takes place at the end of September and lasts for about 16-18 days, depending on the year. It typically ends on the first Sunday in October but if the 16th day of the festival falls before October 3rd, the party is extended until then—something we’re absolutely, 100%, totally on board with. October 3rd is German Unity Day, the day commemorating the anniversary of German reunification in 1990. Walls down, glasses up!
So why do they call it Oktoberfest and not Septemberfest? Or better yet, Bierandpretzelfest? Dirndlfest? Lederhosenarebestfest? Well, the first Oktoberfest actually did take place in October—from start to finish. It begun as a simple(ish) party held in honour of the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese and took place from October 12th – October 17th, 1810.
As the years passed and the celebrations continued (and grew), the decision was made to move the festival up to begin in September to allow for more favourable weather conditions. Biergartens in September > biergartens in October. Though the beer-and-pretzel-fest moved months, the name remained the same.
What time does the festival start?
On that first day of Oktoberfest (in September, remember), Oktoberfestivities begin promptly at noon but only after the Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first keg and shouts, “O’zapft is!” From there, Oktoberfest typically runs from 10 am – 11:30 pm on weekdays and from 9 am – midnight on weekends (give or take a half hour). But isn’t it always Oktoberfest in our hearts?
For specific dates of upcoming Oktoberfests, check out this page on Oktoberfest Dates where we’ve done all the hard work for you. On this page you can also find a rundown of beer tent and stall opening times, as well as operation times for attractions and shows.
Also check out this year’s Schedule of (Really Awesome) Oktoberfest Events to find out when all the best parades, parties, and—because this is Oktoberfest—beer baptisms and crossbow shooting showdowns take place.
Where is Oktoberfest in Munich?
Oktoberfest in Munich takes place on the Theresienwiese as it has for over 200 glorious years. The Theresienwiese is the large field where the first-ever Oktoberfest–AKA the wedding celebration between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese—went down. Theresienwiese literally means “Therese’s Meadow” and was named for the bride herself. It’s located just southwest of the city centre and is easily accessible via its own dedicated stop on Munich’s U-Bahn train line.
Oktoberfest Beer and Food
As has always been the rule, the only beer served at Oktoberfest Munich, Germany must be brewed within the city limits. Today, that means only beer from Munich’s Big 6—Hacker Pschorr, Spaten, Hofbräu, Augustiner, Paulaner, and Löwenbräu—and it just doesn’t get any better. Nectar of the Gods, some call it. The beer served in the tents is a traditional Marzen-style Oktoberfest lager and made exclusively for the festival.
Oktoberfest Food is… well, it’s almost indescribable in its goodness. Oktoberfest beer tents stick to traditional Bavarian cuisine that will be some of the best food you’ve ever had. Some of the biggest sellers are roasted half chickens, bratwursts of all kinds, pork knuckles, and oxen all served with the greatest sides this side of Heaven—sauerkraut, red cabbage, potato dumplings, potato salad, and now we’re officially starving. And you can’t forget about the most popular Oktoberfest food of all—a Bavarian soft pretzel the size of your face.
Beer Tent Tickets & Reservations
There are 14 big tents and several more smaller tents each year at Oktoberfest. Each has its own unique style and history. You can find a list of the beer tents here.
Beer tent reservations can only be made directly with the breweries that own and run the tents. They cannot be “on-sold” and should never be purchased from some kind of ticket re-seller. You can find out more about how to get beer tent tickets here.
Rides, Parades and Music
The Oktoberfest you’ll experience today is much different from the Oktoberfests of yore. Instead of horse races you’ll see horse carriages pulling beer through the town. Rather than swings you’ll find a plethora of roller coasters and other carnival-type rides you should experience before the drinking starts. Instead of competing with your friends in the bowling alleys you’ll do this thing where you stand on your bench and try to chug an entire litre of beer. It really is a grand celebration.
There are parades of all sorts, traditional Bavarian concerts, and guys shooting air rifles. You’ll see all the highlights from when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg and shouts, “O’Zapft Is!” to the closing ceremony in the Hacker-Pschorr tent. You’ll dance to music of all types – from traditional Bavarian to modern. You’ll party in beer tents so large there’s enough room for you and your 10,000 closest friends. And most of all, you’ll drink fabulous beer and eat some of the best Bavarian food you’ve ever had.
Oktoberfest by the Numbers
The festival has seen astronomical increases in just about every aspect except in the number of swings and potato sack races..
There’s no record of how many people attended that first 1810 celebration but needless to say it wasn’t anywhere near the millions we clink glasses with nowadays. In 1910, the 100th anniversary of Oktoberfest, 120,000 litres of beer were consumed. In 2015 it was 7.7 million litres consumed by 5.9 million visitors, the annual beer consumption average being somewhere around 7 million. Seven million litres of beer, can you believe that? Those first-Oktoberfesters wouldn’t believe their monocles!
Oktoberfest food consumption statistics are equally as staggering. In 2016, 550,000 chickens, 109 oxen, and 140,000+ pairs of pork sausages were consumed. Germany probably didn’t even have that many pigs back in 1810.
What to wear to Oktoberfest
Traditional Bavarian attire is always welcomed and appreciated, regardless of how German you are. We’re pretty sure wearing this stuff makes you German anyway. We know drinking the beer does.
For the ladies, a dirndl is what you can expect to see. Dirndls consist of a long-ish dress over a white blouse and an apron, tied appropriately. Dirndls come in all colours, patterns, designs, cup-sizes, and look great on every single body. For more on how to dress for Oktoberfest, see this article.
For the gents, it’s all about the lederhosen or “leather breeches” which is even more fun to say. They can be shorts or knee-length and are attached to suspenders that connect across the chest. They’re worn over a handsome button-up, plaid or otherwise, and worn with some thick knee socks and simple loafers.
Why You Need to Do Oktoberfest Munich Before You Die
The festival has become a legendary event throughout the world. There is simply nothing quite like it and everyone should experience it at least once in their lives.
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is renowned as the largest beer festival in the world. It takes place every year in the German city of Munich, in the state of Bavaria. Oktoberfest Munich runs for 16 days, from late September to the first weekend of October. It is sometimes extended by an additional day or two.
Oktoberfest in Munich is the temporary home for an incredible number of visitors each year. More than six million people from all corners of the globe make the pilgrimage to this mecca for lovers of beer and Bavarian tradition.
Oktoberfest: Over 200 Years of Fun
The fairground, known locally as Theresienwiese or simply “Wiesn”, is regarded as a central part of the culture of the state of Bavaria. Bavaria itself has long maintained a unique identity that is quite separate from that of the rest of Germany.
Oktoberfest has its origins in the early 19th century, where it began in 1810 as a celebration of the royal wedding between a local Crown Prince and his new Princess. The citizens of the surrounding area where invited to participate in the organised festivities, and more than 40,000 attended. The celebration became an annual event, and the rest is history.
The festival is still held at the same location as it was on the occasion of the royal wedding all those years ago, namely in front of the city gates of Munich. Of course, the biggest and most famous element of Oktoberfest is the long standing practice of serving the incoming revellers with copious amount of food and drink, most notably sausages and sauerkraut, and, most importantly of all, beer.
Oktoberfest Munich: A Once in a Lifetime Destination
The modern day celebration that is Oktoberfest features massive beer halls, many of which are sponsored by the familiar brewing giants. Some of these huge structures can incredibly hold more than 5,000 people.
There is nothing like the feeling of mateship and camaraderie that comes with sharing a hall with thousands of other people, each with a huge glass of beer (known as a Mass in Bavaria) in his/her hand, chowing down on a hearty meal, and joining in the rapturous German drinking songs.
The success of Oktoberfest Munich, Germany, has resulted in the franchising of the event. Thousands of similar beer festivals are now held around the world. But there is simply nothing quite like the real thing. The Oktoberfest Munich festival is the original, and it remains the best. So yes, you have to visit the wonder that is Oktoberfest before you die.
Ready to party? Join us with the best Oktoberfest tours in Munich. Prost!