Prost! The German cry for ‘cheers’ will be on everyone’s lips in Munich from 17 September until 3 October. Of course, it is Oktoberfest time again! We don’t currently have an Hg2 Travel Guide to the traditional capital of Bavaria, but the ‘Wiesn’ (as the locals call it) is the world’s biggest beer bash. Six-million people a year making the pilgrimage. And what’s more hedonistic than huge jugs of beer (Maß), large slices of meat, and the drunken singing of insanely popular German folk songs?
Oktoberfest isn’t Berlin style industrial-cool, but it’s a raucous event. With 14 main beer tents and several subsidiaries to explore situated on the site at the Theresienwiese. Oktoberfest is by its nature touristy, but there are ways to beat the tourist hoards and have a true, local Bavarian knees-ups.
Here is our exclusive Hg2 guide to Oktoberfest; Germany’s best-known beer event!
Go to the Schottenhamel Beer Tent
Family- run Schottenhamel, the largest tent with a 10,000 capacity at the Wiesn, is where it all starts on 17th September at noon when the Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer, and proclaims the festival open! Getting a seat for the opening can be tough, with revellers arriving earlier than 9am for the grand event, but Schottenhamel is an energetic tent full of younger Germans throughout the whole Wiesn. Try a weekday afternoon for your best bet at getting a seat, or if it must be a weekend, get there for 9am.
Try the Hippodrom Beer Tent
Want to catch a celebrity? Hippodrom is your best bet, an insanely popular tent with the singles of Oktoberfest. The sparkling wine bar (one of the few beer tents to diversify into other drinks) has possibly the highest flirt factor of the whole Wiesn. This brings ‘hip’ to a festival, that (albeit excellent fun) could never be termed ‘hip’. It’s smaller than others though, with a mere 4,200 capacity, making it that bit more exclusive. Try off-peak times.
Visit the Hacker Pschorr Beer Tent
Truly majestic, the owners of this tent believe all you need are the clouds, stars and a cold jug of beer to create a ‘Bavarian Heaven’, and that’s what they’ve recreated in Hacker Pschorr, with a stunning sky painted on the ceiling. It’s also a good break from the traditional oom pah pah music, utilising a rock band to get the party started. It’s another large one, with 10,000 seats, so give it a go at any time.
Wear Lederhosen and Dirndl
Enough about the beer tents, what are you going to wear? A Lederhosen or Dirndl isn’t entirely imperative, but to enter into the true spirit of proceedings, these traditional Bavarian outfits are key! Just a quick note for women: your Dirndl says more about you than you may have thought: a bow on the right signals that you are taken, a bow on the left signals you are single, and a bow on the front means you’re a virgin. Don’t get it wrong, or some unwanted attention may be coming your way!
Take a trip to Zur Schönheitskönigin
Yes, this newcomer (since 2010) to the fest costs a small admittance price (all the other tents are notably free). Yet ‘the beauty queen’ is a delightfully nostalgic folklore music tent, reflecting the past in a glorious fashion. It’s not the party capital of the Wiesn by any means, but if you fancy a break from the baying crowds of beer-swigging hedonists, head here for an endearing reminder of Bavaria’s history.
Hg2 extra tidbits: the ‘Zur Bratwurst’, an unusual two-storey timbered house among tents, for (what else?) traditional sausage and for decadent night owls who want to continue the hijinks post 11:30pm, trendy electro clubs Bob Beaman, Harry Klein or the very exclusive P1 are perfect. Otherwise, try to avoid becoming a ‘Bierleichen’ – German for a beer corpse — the Oktoberfest beer is stronger than the usual. Once again: prost!
Hg2 would like to thank guest travel blogger Andrew Wilkin for this article.