For years, Oktoberfest has been on my Bucket List. In a funny turn of events, I landed in Munich all set for the fest, and here’s what I discovered:
1. Everyone will be in costume!
Where Oktoberfest is concerned, the good ol’ days haven’t gone by just yet. Many traditional aspects of the fest still remain, and Lederhosen and Drindls are one of them. Renting costumes might seem like an economical option, but is in fact almost as expensive as purchasing a brand new one; ranging between 20 euros to 50 euros a day. Thrift shops are great places to look for costumes, especially for those on a budget or looking to wear these no more than once
2. Munich is all about Oktoberfest
This much-awaited beer fest is sacred to the Germans and the city comes alive this time of the year. People of all ages in Drindls and Lederhosen can be seen in every part of the city, restaurants offer Oktoberfest discounts and metro stations are crammed with people finding their way to or from the festival. Sadly though, the drunks at Oktoberfest are responsible for quite some litter on the streets the next morning.
3. The best time to visit is during the day
Contrary to obvious assumption, Oktoberfest isn’t it’s mad best in the evenings. The best time to visit is during the day. Get on that roller coaster after a beer, puke a little, drink some more and repeat. Although it does carry on till the wee hours of the morning, the crowd begins to thin out starting 11 pm. Tents shut down by 1:00 pm and stop serving beer at 12:15 am.
4. Scout for your favourite tent
Each tent has an identity, and depending on your preference, you can find the one that best suits your mood. Where one is a special celebrity tent, another hosts the famous cross-bow competition. Some tents embody the spirit of the festival (and beer!) the best.
5. They aren’t actual tents
Ever wondered how a tent could host thousands of people every day? That’s because it can’t. These “tents” are actually massive two-storeyed halls with a round stage for the bands to perform. The halls have signature colours dedicated to each, and different capacities, upon reaching which, the doors shut for a while until there’s space once again.
6. The food is heavenly
It isn’t just the food stalls but the food inside the tents as well, that will get you salivating throughout your time at Oktoberfest. There’s all kinds of authentic cuisine as well as street food inside the tents. Drool-worthy frankfurters and pork burgers will fill your tummy without cutting a hole in your pocket.
7. You need a table to get a drink
As is the case in most pubs as well, in order to buy beer you need to seat yourself at a table. Each table has a designated server, and once you purchase beer at a table it’s best to hang around till bottom’s up! Drinking in the main corridors inside the halls is not permitted. Neither is switching tables. If you’re caught at a table that’s designated to a different server, you risk being kicked out by security. That’s experience talking!
8. Don’t mess with the servers!
When women with a heavy built walk past you with 6 mugs containing a liter of beer each, you’re less likely to mess with them in the first place. They don’t take too lightly to being interrupted on their way to the tables. If they walk past you, get the hint. Once you’re at a table though, they’ll be happy to help out- more so, if you can dish out some tip.
9. Everyone dances on benches
It’s tradition! Dancing on benches and stomping your feet is the way to go as you groove to your favorite tracks. Depending on the tent you pick, music could range from the classics to peppy and all the way to signature Oktoberfest songs. Check them out on Youtube so you can join in the fun! Oktoberfest is the ideal environment to make friends, as you gulp beer and dance together: make the most of it
10. Accommodation will rip you off
Oktoberfest is gaining popularity over the years, with travel companies the world over coming up with packages to lure those with the fest on their bucket lists. Chatting up some people on the plane, I came across one traveling all the way from Australia only for Oktoberfest. Granted, accommodation at this time could be three times as expensive. If you’re planning to rely on Airbnb, you must know I paid through my nose for an apartment that would otherwise have cost me a fourth of its price. Book in advance! There’s a drastic difference between the price you would pay booking a month in advance and ten days before your trip. You might end up saving huge bucks this way. Look for hosts with a lenient cancellation policy and a low deposit to ensure your advance payment is secure.