A trip to Oktoberfest in Munich is one you have to tick off the list if you’re a beer lover.
Some say it’s ‘too commercial’ and recommend the smaller festivals if you want to capture the magic of a true German beer festival but I had a ball – I’ve been back more than once and I’d definitely go again. My beers of choice were Spaten, Hofbrau and Hacker-Pschorr.
Rather than review this already well-known festival I thought I’d leave you with a few tips for Oktoberfest survival based on my own experience of the event:
Book accommodation close to the site
It might be more expensive but believe me, when home time comes it’s worth it. One time we stayed in a hotel that was so close you could see the fairground from our window. We still got lost on the way home.
Don’t dress “for the bedroom”
The porter in my hotel told me there were tons of shops where I could buy some traditional dress to wear to the festival. He went on to warn me that I should be careful of shopping on the internet for German outfits, and he cautioned – with a furrowed brow and a very serious face – “Those clothes…those are not for Oktoberfest, those are for the bedroom”. I was travelling with a low budget and very little space so I contented myself with a Bavarian hat with some feathers and neckscarf with an edelweiss print – I’m sure the porter would have approved.
Don’t worry if you’ve not booked a table
This doesn’t really apply to big groups but worth bearing in mind if there are only a couple of you. The boyfriend and I have found that, as the evening goes on and you get chatting to people in the tents, many will welcome you with open arms to spare spaces on their tables.
Learn Ein Prosit
Hundreds of people will simultaneously burst into song when the band starts playing Ein Prosit – and this happens a LOT. I had enthusiastically sang my way through a good few renditions of “EIN PROSIT, EIN PROSIT, DA BLAAAH, BLAAAAH, BLAAAAAAH” before the nice German man next to me kindly taught me the words. Probably to spare his poor eardrums. Somehow knowing the words gives you a proper sense of belonging at Oktoberfest.
Remember corn-on-the-cob will not sustain you
Don’t be fooled by how good it smells. I was lured in and it tasted so amazing that I forgot it wasn’t really substantial enough to soak up all the alcohol. I remember the boyfriend laughing at me as I sat on the ground with the half-chewed cob, pointing at an attractive local man while shouting “German Ashton Kutcher!” Buy the chicken. It tastes great and it’s much more filling. (I swear to this day that he really did look like Ashton Kutcher though…)
Make friends and embrace your inner child
You will quicky become best friends with lots of people. I’ve danced on benches with flowers in my hair while hugging people I met two minutes earlier. I’ve been bought beers by people I’ve just sat beside. And the boyfriend and I have staggered to the fairground’s ‘fun house’ and negotiated its moving floors and stepping-stone ponds (which we fell in) because a lovely 50-something Cockney man and his girlfriend insisted on going on a ride before last-orders. Magic moments.
There will be weirdos
We felt sorry for a Texan guy in his mid 20s who was swiftly abandoned by a table of German ladies then asked if he could join us for a drink. About 20 seconds later he whipped out his mobile and showed us ‘selfie’ video footage of himself, driving his car, pointing his gun out of the window and firing indiscriminately out of the car window at the trees. I think we were meant to be impressed but we were a bit horrified. I appreciate gun laws are quite different in the US to the UK but you can’t say that’s not still pretty weird.
Beware the language barrier
I sat next to a young lad and his dad one time. The lad had school the next morning and his dad had told him he’d had enough beer. A while later as they were getting ready to go home, the youngster turned to me and said “Can I have a hug?”. Aww, that’s sweet I thought, and said yes. He swiftly picked up my beer and took a big generous mouthful of it, then thanked me. Apparently he though “hug” was the word for “sip”. A likely story!