Who’da thunk it?
Beer, pork knuckles, and girls wearing traditional dresses that are surprisingly revealing is probably what comes to mind when you think about Oktoberfest. And you’re actually quite right – I would name these three things as Oktoberfest essentials, too, and I am German.
Oktoberfest is in full swing at the moment which means that Munich is the place to be for party people from all around the world. If you haven’t been to the actual Oktoberfest in Germany, but are a devout fan of the festivities, you’ll want to read on…
1. What’s in a name?
Oktoberfest has a terribly misleading name as it doesn’t actually take place in October, but September. It all started in October 1810 as a celebration of a royal wedding, but at the end of the 19th century, people decided to celebrate Oktoberfest in September while the name of the event remained unchanged. The reason for this is very simple: The weather in Germany is better in September than in October.
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2. Headed south
You might think that every German celebrates Oktoberfest and that it is one big national party, but you’d be surprised that it’s actually only popular in the south of Germany, Bavaria to be precise. People in the north mostly don’t care for it at all and find it rather irritating.
3. Cough up
The cost of a “Maß”- that’s 1l of beer – is rising every year and has now, for the first time ever, reached the 10 Euro mark. This seems cheap to Aussies, but for Germans, it is a ridiculous price to pay for beer, which isn’t really considered an alcoholic beverage there, but more a refreshing soft drink. For comparison, 10 years ago the price for a “Maß” was only 7 Euros.
4. Reservations, reservations
If you have plans to just rock up at Oktoberfest without any reservations, be prepared to party standing. In order to get a table, you will either have to have made a reservation about 10 months prior, or you will need to be very flirtatious and hope that someone will invite you to their table. Revealing cleavages help.
5. Early birds
The same applies to accommodation. The city of Munich is pretty much booked out half a year in advance so unless you are happy sleeping in a tent, be prepared and make reservations early!
6. Over the hill
There is a grassy hill next to one of the main tents that was lovingly christened “Kotzhügel” by locals, which translates to vomit hill. You can imagine why.
7. Bottoms up
There are traditional German Folk bands playing music in each Oktoberfest tent. Every 20 minutes or so, they play a short song that serves as a cue for everybody to raise their glasses and take a big sip. Be prepared to do this all day long. If this doesn’t get you drunk, you’re doing it wrong.
8. Always on time
Beer is only served between noon and 10:30pm. If you still haven’t had enough after that, you’ll have to take the party to one of Munich’s clubs. The Oktoberfest tents close at around 11:30pm
9. Be our guest
You’ll find all kinds of different Oktoberfest guests. There are of course the young tourists who want to get drunk as quickly as possible, there are tons of minor celebrities who wear crazy outfits and just want to be seen, and then there are the locals to whom Oktoberfest isn’t just some wild party, but a very important tradition and part of their culture. You’ll find the locals at their own regular’s reserved tables having a good time while being somewhat annoyed by all the tourists.
10. Let’s get physical
The waiters at Oktoberfest have one of the most physically challenging jobs in the world. Carrying 10 to 15 liters of beer at once is not uncommon while running around all day, dodging drunk people and spilled drinks. But for most of them, it’s worth the effort as they can earn more than most of us make in three months during the two weeks.
Image via oktoberfissa.nl