Incentives for your escape from the wheel.
14 tents, 116 oxen, 6 million visitors and 6,5 million liters of beer need a lot of planning. If you think that only concerns the organizers, you are wrong. You should read the below if you consider a visit at the biggest party of the world – taking place between September 16 and October 03, 2017 on Theresienwiese in Munich, Germany. Some impressions can be found here.
1★Hotel Booking. To get a decent overnight deal during the Oktoberfest (Wiesn) days, your hotel should be booked far in advance. Place your reservation in May latest to be on the save side and not face the incredible price increases where rooms suddenly triple. Especially on weekends hotel owners will just squeeze the money out of your pockets. To avoid the overcrowded U-Bahn (subway) and the hardly available taxis you are better off by choosing a place not more than one stop away from the U-Bahn stations Theresienwiese, Goetheplatz or Schwanthaler Höhe. There are plenty of hotels in the area around Hauptbahnhof (Central Station). Instead of depending on the public means of transport just take a walk to the Festwiese (=Wiesn, =Oktoberfest, =festival). Click here for the subway network. It might be a challenge to find your way home after 10 hours in a tent draining the glasses to the dregs. Write down your hotel name and address before(!) you hit the tents and maybe you are lucky to find someone who still has all senses to direct you home.
2★When to Go. Anytime. But consider that people have been waiting for 340 days to get their hands on a beer on Theresienwiese. The area is jam-packed on weekend 1. As far as the mid weekend is concerned – avoid it! Unless you are Italian or want to hang out with Italians. Weekend 3 is busy (again) as people face the fact of the 340 day break. Some claim that the best days are from Sunday to Thursday – The only time the Festwiese is cleared from tourists. You will always have the possibility to get in or even snatch a table. First after 4 p.m., when people are done with work, Oktoberfest will be busy. So unless you have good relations to the tent owner to get a reservation on the weekend or you love queuing up in front of closed doors you should take into consideration to spend one day between Sunday and Thursday. No matter which of the 16 (-18) days you choose. All are worth it. There are rumours of guests who were at the festival and never made it into a tent. And that’s not anything you should brag about.
3★Clothes. Traditional clothes – Lederhosen and Dirndl – became essential even for non-residents during the last decade. If you show up in jeans and jacket you will be part of a minority. So spend € 100-200 to get a cheap outfit in one of Munich’s livery stores. You will appreciate your investment as soon as you enter a tent. If you are well off and want to make a proper investment for your future Wiesn days head to Lodenfrey – Chances might be high you find your outfit on someone else too.
4★Budget. You are well advised to calculate a minimum of € 100 for a whole day at the Wiesn. 1 Liter of beer is around € 10,50 excluding tip. And you should tip – which means you end up at € 11,50 – 13 per beer. Depending on your shape you will be drinking 2-8 liters on a single day. Plus you will eat half a chicken, a sandwich and maybe a Brez’n (Bavarian style prezel). And that’s the budget package. Sudden female company expects a gingerbread heart and a ride on the “Kettenkarussell” – Your wallet is empty by now…
5★The Right Tent. The recurring question about the right tent is a tricky one. It depends of your needs and which crowd you want to have around while getting hammered. You are in good hands to experience proper atmosphere as long as you manage to get into one of the big 14 – see below in alphabetical order.
Armbrustschützenzelt (Paulaner) – If you don’t manage to enter any other place use Armbrustschützenzelt as your last-minute-back up. There will definitely be the proper atmosphere during weekends.
Augustiner Festhalle (Augustiner) – This tent is one of the few places where the beer is still delivered in wooden barrels – every day between midnight and 2 a.m. That fact made the Augustiner tent earning the reputation of serving the best beer on Oktoberfest. It is primarily frequented by traditional and more mature (45+) guests with roots in Munich and surroundings.
Bräurosl (Hacker-Pschorr) – If you are lucky (or unlucky – depending on your preference) to be granted access on the first Sunday – September 17, 2017 – you will experience Sodom and Gomorrah already in the early hours. Bräurosl is the first tent to be closed on Gay Sunday due to capacity issues. So be there before 10ish and come with your partner unless you want to be picked up by someone in the tent. Be aware that during late hours the toilets are not really serving their original purpose anymore.
Fischer-Vroni (Augustiner) – Hardly to miss if you exit station Theresienwiese, as the smell of their “Steckerlfisch” will just sneak into your nose. …and it is hard to get rid of it again. “Impaled” trouts, zanders or whitefish are grilled on a 15-meter long bbq-bar. The guests in the tent are mainly from Munich.
Hacker Festzelt (Hacker-Pschorr) – If you are too young (or bored) to join the adults at their upper-class-events in Käfer’s Wiesn Schänke or Marstall head to Hacker-Festzelt. Around 7.000 seats are available for the emerging jet-set of Munich. Having installed painted clouds on their ceiling their decoration is the nicest on Theresienwiese. Especially when you look from the front or the back.
Marstall – former Hippodrom (Spaten) – Due to some tax dodging Hippodrom had to close down. 2014 was the first year for Marstall, a new tent with focus on detail and proper organization. It is a well-run and civilised tent suitable for your company event. Marstall has pillowed benches, fantastic food and an a good coordination of service. You are first allowed to dance on the benches after 8 p.m. The whole setting might be inappropriate for Oktoberfest guests from abroad who are just looking for a tent to get wild. Besides you will not be served unless you have a table. Not even beer. So don’t bother – they follow their rules.
Hofbräu Festzelt (Hofbräu) – Most popular with Australians and guests from New Zealand, Hofbräu’s waitresses also serve “Stehmaß”, which means you don’t have to spend hours looking for a place to sit down and pretend being part of the table. The atmosphere can get a bit rough as glasses tend to fly into the crowd during late hours.
Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke (Paulaner) – A very cosy, “little” hut at the end of the tent street with a homely beer garden outside attracts the upper-class from Munich. Instead of tourists you find guests who spend 2 hours on preparing their make-up and outfits before they hit Theresienwiese. Nice to look at – especially when you have a Kaiserschmarrn (sugared pankace with raisins) in front of you. Remember good food requires also an adequate budget. Live band inside – speakers outside. Besides Weinzelt, Käfer’s Wiesn Schänke is the only tent which closes at 1 a.m. – Last orders 45 mins before.
Löwenbräu Festzelt (Löwenbräu) – Located opposite of Weinzelt and Winzerer Fähndl they have a 4,5 meter tall lion on top of their main entrance. You will not miss it – especially not when you hear it groan. It is popular with football fans of 1860 and international guests. Selfexplaining.
Ochsenbraterei (Spaten) – Tired of chicken, fish sandwiches and french fries? Do not miss out on their USP. The Ochsensemmel, a (slightly overpriced) sandwich with ox meat, is prepared freshly on a 20-second-basis. The food stall is on the left side entering from the front entrance. Look out for the name of the ox which is always displayed on a blackboard next to the grill station. This might develop a closer relationship to the animal you will digest the rest of the day.
Schottenhamel Festzelt (Spaten) – Definitely no eye-candy if you think about the tent set-up and humidity on rainy days – but for sure worth a visit. The first beer during each Oktoberfest is being served here by the mayor of Munich on the first day of the event. This is definitely one of the busiest days as a lot of bystanders want to get a glimpse on the “Anstich” – The moment where the mayor hits the beer tap into the barrel and screams “O’zapft is!” as soon as the beer is flowing. Do not expect to have a Maß (1-liter glass) in your hands within the first 90 minutes. With 6.000 seats inside and 4.000 seats outside it is the second largest tent on Oktoberfest. Mainly young people dance and sing to the beats of Otto Schwarzfischer’s band. Between 7 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. the atmosphere is peaking and it is quite an experience to listen to 5.999 others groaning the same song.
Schützen Festzelt (Löwenbräu) – Forget it. You won’t get in there on a weekend. This is by far the most hermetically sealed one of them all. That also counts for their beergarden. Of course you have the possibility to line up at 9 in the morning. Beer will be first served at 11 a.m. and as a result of the thirst you develop within 3 hours waiting you most likely leave the tent again at 3 p.m. – with an alcohol intoxication. The crowd is young, from Munich – and knows someone in the board who fixes a table for the evening reservations on Fridays and Saturdays. Because of the size and its guests this tent is clearly one of the best. If you are one of the fortunate ones who gets in, don’t miss out on their last song “Bergwerk” at around 10.25 p.m. where lights are switched off and sparklers are handed out. Schützen-Festzelt’s balcony is the spot where you will get most and longest sun in your face.
Weinzelt (Paulaner) – As the name says their focus is on wine not on beer. Weißbier in 0,5 liter glasses is only served until 10.30 p.m. Thereafter you have to stick to wine which might destroy your budget in the last hours. The tent is a bit dark and popular with the Marstall, Käfer, Schützen and Hacker crowd who heads there after the other tents are closed. The atmosphere could appear slightly artificial and the only thing which indicates you being at Oktoberfest are the traditional clothes people are wearing. The whole thing seems more like a pop-concert on the countryside of Munich. There is a reservation entrance in the back where 200+ people push like if they were in a herd of cows facing the slaughterhouse. The bouncer knows what is good for the business and atmosphere, therefore local, pretty girls will make it in faster than a drunk male tourist who has problems standing straight. He can rest outside – the rest of the night.
Winzerer Fähndl (Paulaner) – Providing capacity for almost 11.000 guests, Winzerer Fähndl is the largest of the big 14. Their beergarden is located perfectly in the sun and certainly very popular when the weather is good. Due to its size you might miss out on some cosy atmosphere – You probably won’t have need for that anyway…
6★Tricks to Get in. You can bribe a waiter (a slightly delicate undertaking as they will get fired right away if they get caught). Some take up to € 50 per person on a busy Saturday to let you in. The more days have passed the easier it is to go with this model. A more decent way is to tip them very generously after they granted you access. Another possibility to get in is to be patient and just wait until a door opens (this could take hours though). Sometimes people from inside open an entrance to get friends in. This is your fortunate moment. The whole thing is a matter of timing. Use your common sense, look around, see which gates open and start your engine for your final run. It is always bad to show up in larger groups as the chances to enter are close to zero. Girls succeed faster (surprise!) so think about splitting up into couples. Present your cleavage and show your charming femininity like if you were standing in front of a popular night club. Some tents have wristbands for smoking areas outside. This could be another way to your Oktoberfest experience. Or you forget about the points above and again …visit during the week.
7★Getting There and Home Again. The U-Bahn stations Theresienwiese, Schwanthaler Höhe and Goetheplatz are the closest ones to the festival. Exit and follow the masses. Note that after midnight the trains only leave 2-3 times an hour. But in your state you couldn’t care less anyway. Taxis are a good way to get there when its raining. Ask them to drop you off at the Bavaria if you plan on going to the tents in the south-end. If you want to start on the north-end tell them to take you to the main entrance or the Marstall tent. Think about 12 of the 14 tents closing at the same time – you can work out the chances of catching a vacant taxi for yourself. If not – good luck with the battle.
8★Drugging. Events of this size attract ragtags, pickpockets and sexual offenders. Once started drinking and having the hours pass by the danger of becoming a victim of a crime increases. Stories made a circuit that roofies or knockout drops are used to make girls available or at least steal their purses. Keep your eyes on your glass and never leave it on the table unattended. The problem with roofies is that you will not remember shit. And that might not be the way you want to leave the party – spending hundreds of € to fly back home without having a clue what was going on the last night. In case you think you got drugged with these drops go to the ambulance behind the Schottenhamel tent within 24 hours and tell your story. It is only possible to trace the substance back within a short period of time.
9★Funfair. If you are into rollercoasters and other octopus-like engines this place is right for you. Parallel to the tent street you have the so called Schaustellerstrasse in which a number of haunted houses, adventure rides and food stalls are lacated. There are 4 traditional need to dos during your precious time there: Enter the “Flohzirkus” – a flea circus where a magnifying glass helps you seeing fleas pulling a carriage or hitting a goal on a miniature football field. The “Teufelsrad” can either be visited as a bystander or an actual participant. A little arena with a turning wheel in the middle attracts young and old. The moderator encourages different groups of guests (children from 5 to 10, women from 20-30, men in the age of 50+, etc.) to sit down on the wheel. The goal is to stay there while two wanna-be gladiators try to hit you with a big ball or tear you down with lassos. The atmosphere is fantastic – especially in the late afternoon when visitors are having a break from the tents. The “Kettenkarussell” is the typical chairoplane or flying swing. And a popular postcard image as well. To measure your strength hit the hammer at “Hau den Lukas” – another Oktoberfest classic. The old fashioned way to impress your plus 1 or your grandma.
10★Medication. Up to 8 liters of beer, hardly any (proper) oxygen, zero-vitamin-sandwiches and a lot of singing will pay its tribute. Latest after day no. 3 your body and intestines will crave for recovery. To avoid a sudden break down prepare yourself prior to your visit. Drink pharmaceutical vitamin bombs, eat healthy and make sure you have some medicine for your bowel. You might laugh now – you won’t facing the queues in an inconvenient moment.
Book your hotel before the summer. Buy a Lederhosen or Dirndl in one of the discount stores at Marienplatz. Write down your hotel name and address prior to your arrival at the festival. Take the U-Bahn to Theresienwiese, Goetheplatz or Schwanthaler Höhe followed by a short walk. Go there during the week for at least one day to avoid the weekend hassle. If you have the luxury choose the tent which is right for you. Be there early (before 1 p.m. on Saturday) if you don’t have a reservation. Tip generously especially at your first order. Bring medicine / vitamins for day 2. Watch your purse and glass at all times. Drink some water as an intercourse recovery for your body. And if there is some time left: Enjoy your stay.
The Usual Questions.
When does it start?
Oktoberfest always starts on the second to the last Saturday in September. 12.00 a.m. – sharp.
How long does it last?
16, 17 or 18 days depending on the Day of German Unity.
What beer is served?
Suppliers are local breweries only: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten.
Do I need a reservation?
No, you don’t! …but it incredibly helps. Especially during weekends and on weekday evenings in selected tents. Don’t even try to get your hands on a Friday / Saturday reservation unless you are well connected. Or try your luck on www.ebay.de – It’s not allowed to sell the reservation, but who cares if you have the chance to get your hands on a Saturday night table!
What time should I be there if I haven’t got a reservation?
From Monday to Thursday most tents will be open all day. Fridays and Sundays be there before 3 p.m. Saturdays before 1 p.m. Of course there are more and less popular tents. Thats why this info is just a rough guidance.
How much does a waiter earn?
Between € 7.000 and € 13.000 depending on the tent she/he is working in.
I don’t like beer – what else can I order?
It became popular – especially with girls – to order “Weißwein Schorle” which is 250 ml white wine topped up with 250 ml sparkling water. You might have to wait a bit longer than for a beer.
Do I have to buy a Lederhosen or Dirndl?
No, you don’t but you might enjoy your time more being part of the arrangement.
What music do they play?
All bands have quite a selection of songs. Some are internationally well know and some are only popular in Germany and Austria. The more you listen to a song the better it gets. So make yourself familiar with some youtube Oktoberfest charts before you travel to Munich as you will then be able to sing along from the start and hide the fact that this is actually your maiden flight through the tents.
This event will be memorable. For you. For your body. For your relationship.
Have a blast!