It’s Oktoberfest Time!

Oktoberfest by Packing my Suitcase

It’s time! Time for Munich be busy and crazy again with all the tourists and drunkies around the streets, for all hotels be completely booked, for the Tracht be once more used and time for the largest and most famous people’s festival in the World to begin… it’s Oktoberfest time!

Over 6 million people pays a visit to the Oktoberfest each year, it is no doubt one of the most famous festivals in the World, copied by many other countries, including Brazil. But what do you know about the Oktoberfest? Do you know where it came from? How it all started? How is it like when you are there? How does it work? Let me help you with that…

The origin

The origin of the Oktoberfest is dated all the way back to October 12, 1810, when the Prince Ludwig – later King Ludwig I – married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The population of Munich at that time was invited to the royal celebration, which took place on the fields in front of the city gates, later on named after the Princess: Theresienwiese, which means Therese’s fields in German. The Bavarians then abbreviated the name to Wies’n, another name for the Oktoberfest, commonly used among the locals.

Throughout the years, the festival expanded more and more, and held horse races and an Agricultural Show, intended to improve the Bavarian agriculture. Today, only the Agricultural Show happens, every 3 years. In 1818 carousel and swings were set up for the first time during the festival – later becoming a themed park – and it was only in 1896 that beer stands were included in the event, later becoming tents, famously called Zelte or Bierzelte – Beer Tents. This year of 2014, the Wies’n will happen for the 181th time in its history!

When? What time?

On the contrary to what many people think, the Oktoberfest does not start in October, but in September. It happens in the last 2 weekends of September and ends in the last weekend of October, so this year it will begin on 20/09 and will go on until 05/10. The Bierzelte are open from 10:00 until 23:30 on weekdays, and on the weekends and holidays from 09:00 until 01:00, and believe me, the Germans do drink beer at 09:00.

Oktoberfest by Packing my Suitcase

How does it work?

There is no entrance fee for the festival. Arriving there you will have many activities to choose from: visiting the shops, food stands, playing in the themed park – riding carousel, roller coasters and so on – and of course, getting a table at one of the famous Bierzelte to enjoy the real experience of the Oktoberfest with a Maß of beer – those big glasses of 1 liter – and eat a traditional Bavarian dish like pork knees, white sausage and roasted chicken.

To get a place in a Bierzelte, you must make a reservation probably 1 year in advance, get there early or just wait in line until there are places available. The main Bierzelte are the Augustiner, Hacker Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten, they are all beer breweries from Munich. Some of these tents have seats for 11.000 people! Can you imagine?

How is it like?

Packed! Yes, packed, especially on the weekends! But that is no surprise. Even so, it’s very fun, especially in the Bierzelte, where traditional bands play, the Germans sing all the time and drink beer like crazy. On the other hand, some prefer to enjoy the rides of the themed park, eat cotton candy and other sweets, wander around the festival; it really depends on what you like!

Oktoberfest by Packing my Suitcase

What to wear?

You might have heard about or seen the traditional cute outfit used by the Bavarians called tracht. Well, you can wear that, or feel free to go as you like. As it is typical of the Bavarian region, many Germans don’t have one, so they just wear normal clothes. If you are interested on wearing a traditional costume, you can learn all about it on my post The Traditional Bavarian Costume.

Who can go?

Humans and animals… probably aliens too, which means: everyone!!

Good to know

There are a few things that can make your visit to the Oktoberfest more fun and simple. I have gathered a few tips for you, which I have learned by experiencing the festival myself in the last years:

  • Your chances to get a place to sit in the Bierzelte increases if you go during the week.
  • When you order something in the tents, you pay when you get it, not when you leave.
  • Bring cash, that is how it works in the Oktoberfest. Don’t forget to tip the waiter/waitress.
  • The tents differ one from the other, if you go the Augustiner tent, that’s the beer you will be drinking, and so on.
  • I know you would love to take one of the beer glasses with you as a souvenir, but you have to pay for them! There is security outside each tent, so please be honest!
  • Even though you don’t pay an entrance fee for the Oktoberfest, things there can be a little expensive, like souvenirs and a Maß of beer (between 8 and 10 Euros)

Oktoberfest by Packing my Suitcase

Numbers & Facts

  • Over 6 million people visit the Oktoberfest every year
  • Sitting: approximately 100,000
  • Liters of beer served: almost 7 million liters!
  • More than 100 cows, 500,000 chickens and over 140,000 pairs of pork sausages are eaten!!
  • There are over 900 toilet seats and 1 Km of urinals.
  • Lost items: around 4,500, where 450 are mobile phones.
  • Over 800 drunk people are assisted by the local ambulance each year.

Getting there

With U- Bahn (metro):

U3 or U6 to Goetheplatz or Poccistraße

U4 or U5 to Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe

With S-Bahn (suburban trains):

S1 – S8 to Hackerbrücke

S7, S20 and S27 to Heimeranplatz, and then the U4 or U5 to the Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe stations.

With the Bus:

MetroBus-Line 53 to Schwanthalerhöhe

MetroBus-Line 58 to Georg-Hirth-Platz or Goetheplatz

StadtBus-Line 131 or 132 to Hans-Fischer-Straße

StadtBus-Line 134 to Schwanthalerhöhe

With the Tram (Straßenbahn):

Line 18 or 19 to Holzapfelstraße or Hermann-Lingg-Straße

Further Information

Official Website

The Oktoberfest Calendar

Map of the Main Tents

Oktoberfest by Packing my Suitcase

Going to the Oktoberfest this year? Ever been there before? Share your experience!

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • Certainly this is on my bucket list! If Aliens can go, why not me 🙂 Nice post, informative and thanks for sharing 🙂

    • hahahaha ohh yes you can go 😀 hope you make it there one of these years, its pretty cool 😀

  • Nice and informative text and great photos! Thanks for sharing and taking me there and reminding my memories….I visited Oktoberfest before couple of years.. 🙂 Kamila

    • Hi Kamila, you’re welcome! Thank you for the compliment 😀
      Im happy I brought you some good memories back!! Im sure you had lots of fun there 😀

  • Sha

    Looks like it’s time to put your beer hats on…although honestly, I’m not really a beer fan…haha…:)

    • hahaahaha me neither! I rarely drink it, and when I do I prefer one we have here called Radles, which is beer mixed with lemonade 😀

      • Sha

        Wow, beer with lemonade?! That sounds interesting to try…:)

  • Tim

    It was a while ago since I was last there but I did have a great time and got a table with my group at a bench in the Hofbrauhaus. I imagine if you live there it is one of those things you likely stay away from.

    • Cool!!! You have been everywhere 😀
      Well, I must say that every year I go because we have friends working there so we always manage to get a table to sit… or because there is always someone that never went there and wants to go. But to be honest Im so excited anymore about it, this year I will be in Munich only for the last weekend of the event, and I have to go because my mom will be visiting me and she never went to the Oktoberfest 😀

  • Great and informative post! Hope to be a part of the oktoberfest once too! Everyone that I know that was there say it is one of the most fun times they have ever had in their life 🙂

    • Thank you! Happy that you liked it 😀 I hope you make it there sometime, Im sure you will also have a great time!!! 😀

  • Ok, I’m officially very jealous! Going to Oktoberfest is on my bucket list!

    • hahaha ohh really?? Then you should start planning to accomplish this wish already, Im sure you will love it 😀

  • I didn’t know that you could bring pets inside too! Wouldn’t that be quite chaotic, taking care of your pet and looking after your beer? 😀 I perfectly understand why people are required to pay first before eating or drinking…don’t want anyone sneaking away after eating so much good food and drink! Melbourne also does get in the spirit of Oktoberfest, but it’s usually just over one weekend in October.

    • Yes… well, some people do, but I wouldnt do that, its so chaotic for the poor animals 🙁
      Paying first is a great idea, can you imagine how long would the line be to pay at the end? Or how many people would leave without paying? Its a good system 😀
      Ohh and how awesome! I didnt know that there was a mini Oktoberfest in Melbourne, how cool! Have you ever been there? 😀

      • Yeah, with all the beer drinking, clanging of glasses and loud voices, it would be very stressful for the poor animals 🙁 It’s a festival for adults, and it should stay that way.

        I was thinking maybe there might be lines getting in, when you first pay? But I’m sure it’s faster paying first. If everyone was to pay at the end, some who might have enjoyed their drinks too much might not know where their wallets is 😀

        Oktoberfest is always big in Melbourne’s pubs. Big drinks served all round, but pity they don’t have much food. I have never been because I don’t drink!!!

        • Yes… there are too much people there, poor animals get really stressed out 🙁

          hahaha yess, I guess many people would forget where their wallets are hahaha 😀 I dont doubt it!

          Ahhh I see, I thought it was also a little festival in a square or something like this 😀 maybe you should go and just see how it looks like… maybe they serve some Bavarian food there too 😀

          • I hope there is an ATM at the festival(s) over there. The more you eat and drink, the more merrier your Oktoberfest will be 😀

            I hope to go and find some Bavarian food in Melbourne and report back to you 🙂 Have fun on your Turkey trip!

          • hahaha yes there are ATMs there 😀

            Yesss do, Id love to know what you think 😀 and thank you!! Im loving my trip… Im leaving Istanbul today and heading to Kas, a small village in the Turkish Riviera where diving is said to be amazing 😀

  • Sounds a great event! I have heard about it but haven’t been there myself 🙂 Well informative post!

    • Thank you Indah!! I hope you can come one of these years! I would be a great experience 😀

  • I’m not a fan of beer but I’d love to go just for the atmosphere which sounds fantastic 🙂

    • Yesss, and you dont have to drink beer… there is also wine and “Apfelschorle” an apple juice with sparkling water 😀 its worth the visit 😀

  • What an eye-opener. I didn’t know that Oktoberfest is so much fun with plenty of other activities besides drinking beer! Great post!

    • Yes Helene, there are activities for the entire family on Oktoberfest…sometimes I go and dont even drink beer 😀 Thank you, Im happy you liked it!!

  • Wow, some of those numbers are mind-boggling! I’ll try to go next year I think! Seems like Berlin has an Oktoberfest too so I’ll stick to that for this year! Have fun! Have an 8-10 euro beer for me 😉

    • I know right? And there are much more crazy numbers! I hope you come next year, then we can meet 😀
      Yess, stick to the “Volksfest” of Berlin and you get the feeling of the Oktoberfest already 😀 you will like it!!
      I will only be here for the last weekend of the Oktobesfest, but when I go I promise to drink a beer for you too hahaha 😀

      • Make sure you do 🙂
        I’ll get saving now and then hopefully I’ll be able to afford a few beers by next September 😉

        • hahahahaha pretty expensive right? 😀

          • I’ll say! That’s even more expensive than Dublin, and that’s saying something! 🙂

          • hahaha I believe you!! Oktoberfest is expensive… but if you go to smaller festivals its cheaper… its just as you can imagine too famous already among tourists 😀

          • Yeah, I’ve seen pictures – it looks insane!

          • hahaha yes it does 😀

  • Wow that looks like a lot of fun, thanks for sharing your travel experience:)

  • Can’t wait 🙂

  • 7 million liters of beer?! Wow…

    • Can you believe that?? Only after living in Germany I believe it, and it wasnt a surprise for me when I saw it hahaha 😀 crazy!!

  • I’ve always wanted to go, and now even more! I’d love to book a plane and say I’m going on a trip to drink beer 🙂

    • hahahaa I guess you should start planning to go next year with your girlfriends 😀

  • Awesome post 🙂 We stopped in Munich in October 2006, briefly on the way back from driving the Romantic Road and saw the chaos of Oktoberfest but yet to experience it for what it really is!! One day!! Hope you are enjoying Turkey 🙂

    • Ohh really?? How awesome, Im happy that even for a short time you had the opportunity to go there… one time is already enough to get the feeling for it 😀
      Thank you, Turkey is amazing… we just arrived in Kas for some amazing diving 😀 I hope you guys are enjoying your trip too… I promise to catch up soon!! 😀

  • Kan

    Great post Allane! This one will be useful for me…since Oktoberfest is on my bucket list 🙂 I loved the interesting tid bits. 6 million visitors?!! Wow!

    • Thank you Kan!! Im happy you found it useful!! I hope you can make it these soon 😀
      yesss 6 million, crazy isnt it? Only seeing with your own eyes to believe that!! On of the beer tents has 11.000 sitting places!! 😀

  • Jen

    Looks like so much fun!

  • Oktoberfest is a crazy place. I’m living Bavaria for ages and is an experience every time again. If you never have been there, definetly try it!

  • Look at all those people! Looks like so much fun!

  • Hi Allane! We were in your lovely city just before Oktoberfest and enjoyed it immensely! What a gorgeous city you live in. But I can imagine how wacky it gets during Oktoberfest. 🙂 I love your photos and all the great info. ~Terri

    • Aww Terri thank you so much for leaving this lovely comment! I can’t believe I wasn’t there, would love to have met you in person. I hope you had a wonderful time in Munich! Safe travels to you 😀

  • We have huge Oktoberfest celebrations here in Cincinnati, too. Not quite as big as Munich, of course, but we’re an old German city who tried to hold onto its German roots. Oktoberfest is one of our busiest weekends of the year.

    • Ohh really? How awesome! I didnt know that… in Brazil we also have Oktoberfest, also because of the German roots!! Did you go/are you going this year? 😀

  • As big as Oktoberfest is in the US, I can’t imagine how wild it must get over there. My entire knowledge of the German language comes from this one celebration. Haha! Thanks for sharing! Happy travels!

    • Hahaha awesome!! Now you need to come to Munich and see how it is here… Im sure you will learn more German

  • What a wonderful blog.!! Thanks for the blog follow too 🙂

    • Thank you, Im happy that you liked it!! Thank you for the follow too… Im sure we will exchange lots of experiences 😀

  • I just missed it this year by a couple months! 🙁 Next time!
    Jessica, Turquoise Compass