Beer lovers, rejoice! That most celebrated of festivals dedicated to your favourite alcoholic beverage is just around the corner - a veritable carnival of all things ale, lager and Bavaria. There are hundreds of similar events across the globe each year, but none have ever quite managed to ascend to the same dizzy heights as Munich’s most famous bacchanal. It’s the world’s largest fair - sixteen days of festivities that encapsulate everything that is great about drinking socially. This, however, only scratches the surface of what Oktoberfest is all about.
Oktoberfest: all you need to knowWhile undoubtedly worth a visit for the aforementioned aspects alone, you can expect more from Oktoberfest than inebriated revelry. True, beer is the focal point of events, but there’s plenty happening to keep non-beer fans, teetotallers, and even children amused. The only way to really experience Oktoberfest is in the flesh: below, you will find a brief and handy guide to some of the things to know before departing. When you’re ready to book up, look no further than HomeAway to find your perfect Munich holiday home.
Let’s be honest, the vast majority of visitors to the festival won’t be too concerned about Oktoberfest’s antecedents. That said, knowing the origins of the event can only boost your appreciation. The first occasion was a far cry from current proceedings, a celebration of the royal marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810. The main attraction at this time was horse racing, a tradition that continued for several years before the transformation began to take place. Beer stands gave way to the now infamous tents in 1896, carousels were replaced by more adventurous fairground rides, and the reputation started to spread like wildfire beyond Germany.
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The most instantly recognisable feature of Oktoberfest is, of course, the myriad tents that take over Theresienwiese from mid September each year. There are fourteen in all, each with their own unique draw and characteristics. The Hippodrom is a popular celebrity hangout, whereas the Hofbrau tent is the most sought-after by foreign students and backpackers. As such, the latter is typically the most convivial, if at times rowdy, but be warned: despite the staggering size of the tent, finding a seat can be a struggle if you don’t arrive bright and early. If wine or champagne is more your scene, then the Kufflers’ Weinzelt tent is the place for you.
Despite the many merits of Oktoberfest, there can be no denying that most people visit with the intention of consuming as much alcohol as is humanly possible. Responsible drinking is heartily encouraged, and if you do choose to remain sensible you’ll enjoy the fantastic range of drinks all the more. Germany is world renowned for its locally-brewed beers, and at the festival you can sample some gems that are still unknown outside of its borders. An iconic one-litre stein glass weighs in at around £7.50, but savour the contents and you shouldn’t break the bank. Good table manners include staring intently at your drinking companion as you clink your glass with them during a toast!
Since starting off with a few humble carousels back in the early years, Oktoberfest has grown to establish itself as a mini theme park in its own right. Even if you don’t drink, or are too young to do so, you can enjoy soaking up the atmosphere and indulging in one of the many roller coasters and thrill rides that are erected for the duration of the festival. It probably goes without saying, but as anyone who has tried it will already know, white-knuckle rides and copious amounts of alcohol are generally a bad combination. You have been warned…