- Learn most of the lyrics to these two songs: Fleigerlied and West Virginia by John Denver. The first one is a classic Oktoberfest song that ever tent is guaranteed to play at least once. Fliegerlied is a hilarious song if you look up the translation in english. And the second one, well that’s anyone guess as to why that some how became popular in Germany, let alone during Oktoberfest. But sure enough, you’ll notice the music change from traditional German Folk to the roar of everyone screaming “Take me home…”.
- Know where the festival grounds are located. For some reason, we just hopped of the train in Munich assuming that the festival would be right there. It’s not. It’s a short walk away and you’ll most likely just need to follow the crowds or just look down on the sidewalks that have arrows point the direction. It’s been at the same location for a long time, so just about any local will know. But if you look like an uber-tourist-American, you might want to ask two locals to make sure the first didn’t send you off in the wrong direction.
- Know which tents you want to go to, because they all have a different vibe, crowd, and drinking scene. The last thing you’d want is to be stuck in the Fischer house looking to party and find yourself next to a bunch of families out for their single beer of the year. A list of all the tents can be found here, but to get a better description of each tent and which one you should head to, see this article. Hofbrau is absolutely massive and filled people from all over the world that are there to do one thing, get hammered! It’s quite the sight. My favorite was, hands down, Löwenbräu-Festhalle. It had the perfect mix of young and old people that were all there for a great time. That is where I had that quintessential moment where all my friends and I were singing, arm in arm, with a local german family. All day on Saturday, we spent our time in Schottenhamel which was equally and epic time.
- If you plan to get a table, you might need to think again. All the tents are different, but most require you have a table reserved for a time slot on a specific day if you want a table. So if you’re reading this now, you’re about 11 months late. Reservations for tables fill up by locals and tour companies in December. But fear not, we did not have reservations and still spent our entire time at Oktoberfest standing at a table. How? Well during the weekdays before dinner time, reservations are rarely required or enforced it seemed. We went to 4 tents on a Friday and were able to walk right into an open table somewhere in the tent. But once dinner time rolls around, they clear out everyone from the tables to make room for the dinner reservations. At that point, you’ll either be forced to leave unless you can find a spot in the tent that has standing room or non-reserved seating. On the weekends, all the rules are totally different. Tables at the popular tents can, and usually are, reserved the entire day! So no matter when you get there, you’ll be stuck standing in a corner. So find a tent, like Schottenhamel, have half reserved and half first come-first-serve. But in order to get those tables, you need to get there before the tents open in the morning and wait in a really long line. But don’t let the size of the lines scare you, those tents hold thousands of people.
- Prepare for the cost of everything and come with change! Beers cost about $10 and it is expected to tip $1, so don’t be that person that asks for change for a large note. The waiters are sprinting from table to table with 10 liters of beer at a time, make their job easier and give them $11 exactly. Yeah, the beers are steep, but just remember that it’s a liter of beer. And you can’t have beer without a bunch of salty foods right? Believe it or not, the cheapest big meal you can buy at most of the tents is half of a rotisserie chicken for about $8. It’s amazing and I highly recommend it. But try everything at least once!
- Lederhosens are essential to a great Oktoberfest, but you have to get legit ones. Either buy/wear an authentic Lederhosen/Dirndl or none at all. It’s insulting to show up with a “costume” lederhosen or some variation of it. You’ll stand out and look like a complete asshole. If you don’t want to shell out the $75 for a set of true, leather lederhosens, then dressing in a nice pair of pants & button-down will be fine as well. But there’s nothing like swinging our liter of beer around with your buddies, all dressed in lederhosens together like everyone else in the tents! Plus, they’re a great costume for every October party for the rest of your life.
- Plan to meet up with friends or hostelmates inside the tent, good luck. It will be nearly impossible to locate friends inside the tents, everything looks the same, and it’s incredibly loud. There are no isle or table numbers to tell your friends where you are, so your best bet is to wander aimlessly to find them or just hope they find you. So try to show up together or meet outside the tents in a beer garden before heading in for the real party.
- Don’t take naps on the hill under the BAVARIA Statue. As enticing as it might look, simply don’t do it. That hill is notorious for people getting mugged while they nap. My friends and I were lucky enough to not have it happen to us, somehow; but my recommendation is to not take a nap there.
- Where to put your backpacks or bags? Our AirBnB wouldn’t let us check in the morning we arrived in Munich, so we had to find an alternate plan since we were set on heading to the festival right away. What did we do? Utilized the lockers in the train station. For about three Euros, we were able to get the big lockers to stuff our packs in for the day. That saved the day for all of us. We were able to head over to Oktoberfest without any worries, party all day, and then headed back to the train station to get our bags when our friends arrived later that evening. Easiest solution to a normally cumbersome problem when exploring the city without a place to drop your bags.
- Lastly, like I said before, every tent is different and that is what makes Oktoberfest great. But don’t try to speed through every single tent just to say you went to them all. Do some tent hopping until you find a good one, and stick there. You won’t be able to appreciate a tent until you’re there long enough to feel the BAC level rise from sober/buzzed to full blown party mode. It’s a crazy sight to see people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and status come under one tent roof to have a great time.
Enjoy yourself and don’t forget, Ein Prosit
Adventure Doesn’t Find You