Welcome to Oktoberfest in Munich
In my various reviews of my latest trip to Germany, I’ve mentioned visiting Oktoberfest in Munich. However, due to its impressiveness and a large amount of content that could be written about it, I couldn’t really decide how to place my own Oktoberfest experience in a single post.
I gave it a thought and I decided to create several parts of this Oktoberfest for Tourists guide; each one focused on a different aspect of the world’s largest folk festival. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to follow as well as easier for me to write.
Anyway, let’s start already!
This first part of the guide should help tourists better understand Oktoberfest as well as better plan their trip and set objective expectations for the event.
I don’t need to tell you that millions of people visit Oktoberfest every year and it is always crowded. However, I hope to reveal some things that you don’t know or wouldn’t expect and therefore help you have a better overall experience.
Well, Oktoberfest usually starts mid-September and ends the first weekend of October. This was news to me because I couldn’t find the logic in naming the festival Oktoberfest and then having it start in September. Nevertheless, it is how it is and starting dates are usually published several years in advance.
It always begins the third weekend in September and ending the first Sunday in Oktober; for example, in 2017 it started on 16th of September, in 2018 it will start on 15th of September, while in 2019 the opening date is set for 21st of September.
The best time to visit Oktoberfest in Munich is during the first week of the festival.
This was another surprise to me because I’ve never actually read information regarding Oktoberfest, but there are no tickets for the festival. It is open to all curious visitors that want to enter its grounds and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Even entering the popular tents (which are nothing like tents by the way) is free.
However, in order to sit on a table in the tents, you must order something; just like in restaurants.
Due to its popularity, Oktoberfest attracts LOTS OF PEOPLE and therefore it was decided to boost the security of the site.
There are several entry points and guards that may or may not ask you to show them the contents of your bag etc. Each year you can find the special rules in terms of security and safety on the official website of Oktoberfest.
This year, for example, it wasn’t recommended to have a backpack or large handbags; it was allowed, but those visitors were usually moved to the side and their backpacks/handbags were thoroughly checked by the guards.
Make sure to read these rules before going there in order to avoid any trouble with the authorities.
Restrooms and Toilets
Someone may find this funny, but we all have bathroom emergencies from time to time, right? Well, even though this is a festival with millions of visitors, going to the bathroom didn’t seem like a major issue to me.
Besides the bathrooms in the tents (which were crowded most of the time), visitors could find numerous bathroom stations (let’s call them like that because they weren’t porta potty, but they weren’t regular bathrooms either) outside the tents; these were usually less crowded and generally clean.
Keep in mind that there are employees that take care of the bathrooms and it is considered a good behavior to leave them a tip.
Many people decide to visit Oktoberfest even though they are on a budget; good news for them is that you can visit the festival without spending a fortune.
I’d say that the biggest hazard to your budget is the tents; the prices for beer and food inside are a bit higher than the regular prices, plus there are lots of people that just pass and offer various candies, drinks or souvenirs.
The jolly atmosphere inside in combination with the alcohol could easily make you forget money issues and start spending like crazy. I mean, I bought a 12-euro schnapps and I don’t even drink strong alcoholic beverages.
Other than that, the offer outside the tents is reasonable; the souvenirs aren’t too expensive (in comparison to other souvenir shops in Munich at least), you can get tasty German wursts for a few euros as well as drinks and various desserts. Even though we did have a beer in one of the tents and stayed a while, we decided to buy food outside and save some cash.
Having Fun at Oktoberfest
I’d like to conclude Part 1 of the Oktoberfest for Tourists guide with all the ways a visitor can have fun at this festival. People always talk about Oktoberfest like a major getting-drunk party that I’ve never thought about all the other options. I was really reluctant to visit it in the first place because of this since I don’t enjoy crowded spots and too much alcohol. However, Oktoberfest is much more than that.
First of all, Oktoberfest festival is held at an amusement park. There are lots of different rides; you can spin like crazy in teacups or experience a free fall from God-knows how many meters above the ground. You can also spend the money you tried to save on a Scary House ride (yup, that happened). I mean, there are options, lots of options for both adults and children.
Additionally, you can just wander around the tens of charming streets, take photos, eat wursts and enjoy the atmosphere. You can meet people, make friends, share experiences etc.
Plus, you can enter the Bavaria Statue (for a fee) and have a magnificent view of Oktoberfest.
Naturally, the tents shouldn’t be ignored either; when you enter a tent, you enter a whole new world of German culture, cuisine, and tradition. It’s wonderfully positive inside, with people smiling, eating and enjoying life.
It just makes you happy that you are alive and honored to experience such an event. Most of the fun actually happens here, with the sounds of the live music and the taste of local beer; visitors often get a table in the morning and then stay there until the festival closes for the day.
So that’s it for now. In the following parts, I plan to overview the positive as well as the negative aspects of Oktoberfest. Also, I intend to include some useful tips just so my readers can come better prepared than I was. Stay tuned!
Must have Oktoberfest items: