Oktoberfest: 10 Things To Know Before You Go

Oktoberfest Tent
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Oktoberfest, Germany’s largest festival and one of the most spirited parties in the entire world, just kicked off this past weekend in Munich. This beer festival has become an annual tradition that dates back to 1810 when Bavarians celebrated Prince Ludwig’s marriage with huge festivities. Attracting crowds of over 6 million every year, this 16-day event is a huge drawcard for international visitors. If you’re planning to experience this iconic event, you need to know a few things. Here at WOW we’ve put together a list of 10 things you should now before going to Oktoberfest to help you make the most of your visit (Image via).


1. When does it take place?

Despite its name, Oktoberfest actually begins in September. The dates of the festival change every year, but in 2015, it runs from 19th September – 4th October.

2. You’ll regret not dressing the part

One of the most fun things about attending Oktoberfest is dressing up! Locals and visitors alike choose to suit up in Trachten, which is traditional German attire. For men that means sporting a pair of leather Lederhosen with suspenders and for women, a Drindl. In fact, you’ll feel out of place if you don’t dress up! There are a number of stores that sell Bavarian attire in Munich, but it can be expensive. Try to find a second-hand outfit for a cheaper price.

3. The beers are huge

The standard size of a beer at Oktoberfest is one litre and costs 10 Euros. All the beer served comes from six Munich breweries and is widely held as some of the best beer in the world. Remember to shout ‘Prost!’ (cheers) and look your friends in the eye before drinking; an important custom in Germany. If you don’t like beer, you can head to the Weinzelt (wine tent) where you can choose from 15 different wines or enjoy the carnival atmosphere outside of the beer tents.

Oktoberfest Tent

4. It gets (very) busy

As this is the most iconic festival in Germany and is a huge drawcard for both Germans and international visitors, Oktoberfest is exceptionally crowded. To avoid the most crowded times, visit on a weekday, avoid October 3rd (a German holiday) and line up outside the tents before they open at 10am on weekdays or 9am on weekends to secure a seat. Often, the tents become completely full by 11am, after which you’ll need to wait in line for people to leave before you can enter (Image via).

5. Soak up the beer with some traditional German delicacies

There is a lot of hearty, traditional German food on offer in all of the tents at Oktoberfest, including wurst, roasted chicken, pork knuckle, goulash, smoked fish and giant pretzels. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, don’t fear. As the event has become more and more international, organisers are beginning to cater to the dietary needs of visitors and you’ll now find some meat-free options available, like Käsespätzle, a traditional noodle bake. Make sure that you eat regularly over the course of the long day.

6. Make a reservation for large groups

For a small group of only two or three people, you probably don’t need a reservation, but for larger groups it is useful to plan in advance and make a reservation directly with the tent you want to sit in. Be warned though, some tents begin taking reservations as early as January!

Oktoberfest Tent

7. Choose your tent

There are 14 tents in total and all of them have a different personality and charm, leading them to attract different crowds. Some of the tents are enormous and can hold upwards of 10,000 people! You should try to experience a number of different tents, but the busy crowds mean that it’s better to stay put in one tent over the course of the day. If you’re visiting over a number of days, try to experience a different tent each day. Many people love the family atmosphere of traditional tunes of the Augustiner tent (Image via).

8. Be prepared to sing and dance

As the mood becomes increasingly festive, you’ll notice that many people beginning to sing, swinging their beers and dancing on their benches. This is allowed and is quite normal. Popular drinking songs include the repetitive ‘Ein Prosit’ and ‘Fliegerlied’. Also, no Oktoberfest is complete without partaking in the Chicken Dance, which has been a festival tradition for over twenty years. Join in the fun yourself, but remember to never dance on the table, which is actually against the law!

9. Tip your server

Tipping your server 10-15 % of the total bill each time you order will ensure they will come past your table more regularly to take your orders and keep you happy. No surprises there!

Oktoberfest carnival

10. There is more to Oktoberfest than drinking beer

Oktoberfest is a huge carnival complete with rides, vendors and games, so even if you don’t enjoy drinking beer, you’re sure to have a great time. Ride the ferris wheel, rollercoaster, ghost train or test your skills shooting with airguns or popping balloons with darts. Kids of all ages (including big ones), flock to the Oktoberfest carnival for entertainment of all kinds (Image via Flickr Creative Commons).

Have you experienced Oktoberfest? What are your tips on making the most of the festival?

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    February 27, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    I just read that post and wanted to add something 🙂
    Octoberfest is of course an awesome experience, but I prefer smaller beer tents. There are beer tents in quite a lot of small towns or villages in Bavaria, so try to find one of these! They are way more charming and traditional. Of course that´s just my opinion, but I´m from Bavaria so I´ve visited many beer tents and I still think the small ones in my village are the best!
    Dressing up isn´t really necessary. Do it if you want to, but some “Bavarians” even feel offended by tourist wearing Tracht, thinking they are ruining our traditional clothing by buying cheap ones.
    But no worries you will have a great time at the octoberfest tho!

    December 8, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I visited Oktoberfest for the first time this year! It was so much fun!

    Clipping Path Service
    November 27, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Wow ! so nice and great article posting it’s also helpful information all of us so thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

    Kerjan | Backpack Babe
    October 7, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    This is definitely an experience I’ll have to cross off my bucket list at some point – thanks for sharing! 🙂 xx

    September 28, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Oktoberfest is definitely on my bucket list! Looks fun 🙂

    September 28, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    I’m going to a private oktoberfest now on saturday. Can’t wait!

    September 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    This is another one that resides quite highly on my bucket list! October is a tough time to visit Munich right now because I’m always deep in school, but the year I graduate, I’ll be there! Thanks for sharing these tips!

    September 25, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    This is a great article. I have been to Oktoberfest and these are great ten tips to give to those who are looking to adventure to the festival. I love your photographs so I’ve been pinning some of your pictures to my pinterest for those who are looking for good bits of information. Great blog by the way!

    September 24, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Henry is right! 😉 The “Wiesn” (that’s how it’s actually called) takes place two times a year. The “Frühlingsfest” in the end of April it is a little smaller than the Oktoberfest but you won’t notice the difference as the atmosphere is the same. The Dirndl thing is great, I own one myself, but it can be a little annoying to always take care of the fabric. The Lederhosen are much more convenient but listen up: there are also Lederhosen for girls. They are quite short and sexy, so definitely a good alternative to the Dirndl 😉
    One more advice: The Oktoberfest has become so touristy that the tradition more and more loses its charm. But there are lots of beer festivals in the smaller cities and even villages in Bavaria all year round that are much more traditional, you definitely should think of visiting one of those! 🙂

    September 24, 2015 at 3:43 am

    I really want to go to Oktoberfest….ahhh can’t wait!

    September 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I went to Oktoberfest two years ago and it was lots of fun – I definitely agree about dressing up, I didn’t and I still regret it!

    While I travelled with a male friend, I still had to deal with a lot of drunk, rude and rather misogynistic men. Be aware that your personal space will be sadly violated, and that while German men can hold their beers, most of the international tourists can’t!

    Samira Allion
    September 23, 2015 at 2:05 am

    I have always wanted to go to the oktoberfest but every year I had some reason why I couldn’t. This year I am in Spain. This post makes me want to go so much more !!!!! Saved 🙂

    Nora @ The Forgotten Recipe
    September 22, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    And if your Australian and lose your passport don’t forget they have set up a booth in the English embassy just for you!

    September 22, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    It really is amazing how big these tents are. Normally, when I think if tents, I definitely don’t think of huge structures that can hold thousands of people. I knew the Oktoberfest tents were huge from Travel Channel programming, but there is still nothing like seeing them in person. “Alright, let’s meet at the Lowenbrau tent” I’ll find you” is what I told my friends. I didn’t find them. 😉 Still, I made some friends from Scotland and had a great time. By the way, I meet my friends at their hotel the next day, so no need to try and “find” them.

    September 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I’m in Europe for 10 months next year but unfortuantely those months don’t coincide with Oktoberfest which is soooooo heartbreaking.

    I would have loved to experience this!

      September 22, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      If you get the chance in the future, definitely go. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Unless you decide to go again. 😉 I think I might. Another piece of advice I would add to this list, which is already amazing, is that booking your hotel quite early is key. I believed I booked mine in April in 2013, and they were nearly booked up. And also, the hotel will be expensive, so save up. Lastly, have fun!!

      September 22, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Also, I hear that there are other beer festivals in Germany at different times of the year. Unfortunately, I don’t know if that’s correct, or if so, where. However, it would be interesting to discover.

    Ech & Will
    September 22, 2015 at 10:12 am

    You are SO right about the dressing up. I didn’t know that was a thing when we went and I spent the whole time wishing I had known so I could have joined in.

    William Stephenson
    September 22, 2015 at 4:33 am

    Great post Rachel,

    Sadly I can’t make it to Oktoberfest this year, as another (recent) Australia expat/nomad, my budget is sadly too short.

    But i’d love to ask you a question or two about Berlin, shoot me an Email if you get this 🙂

    Take care and safe travels.

    September 22, 2015 at 2:54 am

    Loving this post! Oktoberfest is definitely on my bucket list :)!
    Check out my blog for travel tips, too- including my guide to the Great Wall!

    Mama Munchkin
    September 22, 2015 at 2:53 am

    I have never been… but would LOVE to go with my hubby someday– sans munchkins on that trip 😉 Thanks for the tips. I am pinning for later 😉

    September 22, 2015 at 2:09 am

    I was just yesterday. I love it and i live in Munich xx

    Courtney @The First Rule of Travel
    September 22, 2015 at 1:22 am

    We went last year and it was way more fun than we expected. We thought we would spend a day at the fair, but ended up visiting for a least a little bit every day of our 5 days in Munich. We did not have reservations, but even as a group of 5 we were able to wander around and find a table in any tent (except around dinner time). You just have to be prepared to share!

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    September 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Oktoberfest sounds like fun but a totally overwhelming experience. The beer halls were one of my favourite parts about Munich!

    Tessa at