Everything you ever wanted to know about Oktoberfest

Let’s dispel a myth, Oktoberfest isn’t just about beer. It is in fact a folk festival, and more than that, it’s the largest Volkfest in the world. That’s basically a German funfair, but one with plenty of booze thrown in for good measure. And it’s certainly popular. Last year, more than six million people attended Oktoberfest over the 18 days that it ran.

Attending the event looks like thirsty work, as each year about seven million litres of beer is drunk. That’s enough to fill nearly three Olympic-sized swimming pools. But at least everyone lines their stomachs accordingly, with thousands of grilled sausages, chickens, beef and giant pretzels consumed.

The festival is held in Munich and although the crowds are heaving, you can still get a last minute spot. But before we tell you everything you need to know about Oktoberfest, if you’re headed to Germany have a read of some of our other German travel posts, such as the Romantic Road. Or for a quick, no-nonsense guide, read our post on the difference between travel insurance and the EHIC.

When is Oktoberfest?


The name is slightly misleading. Oktoberfest actually starts in September and then finishes in October. The 2018 event starts on 22nd September and runs until 7th October.


Where is Oktoberfest?


The event is held near the centre of Munich, in a large open space called Theresienwiese. Thanks to Munich’s super efficient public transport system, getting there is a doddle. The site even has its own stop on the Munich U-Bahn (their equivalent of the Tube).


How big is Oktoberfest?  


It’s massive! The total event area is the equivalent size of almost 59 football pitches. And some of the larger beer tents can accommodate almost 10,000 people.


When’s the best time to go?


It’s advisable to take a page out of the local’s book and go during a weekday, rather than the weekend, as it’s slightly less busy but still has a great atmosphere.


What are the opening times?


The usual opening hours are 10am until 10:30pm. Weekends open an hour earlier.


Where are the best places to go, inside Oktoberfest?


There are more than 30 tents inside Oktoberfest, with 14 of these having a capacity between 4,000 and 10,000 people. The Hofbräu tent is known as the liveliest tent, and has the largest amount of international visitors, full of people mostly in their early twenties. If you’re after somewhere with a slightly older crowd, but still want a party, then the Hacker-Pschorr tent could be the place for you. This tent is also famous for its painted ceiling. Or if you fancy a singalong with your beer, then go to the Schützen tent, where German, British and American classics are turned up to 11.


Are their table reservations


Yes there are, and these usually get booked up months in advance. BUT don’t worry, as all tents keep some of their seats available on a first-come-first-serve basis each day. If you’re visiting on a weekday, head down early to mid-morning and you should be able to bag a spot. Weekends are more difficult though, unless you’re prepared to stand in line before dawn.


Do I have to dress up?


The traditional Oktoberfest costumes are Lederhosen for men and the Dirndl for women. These days they’re worn solely for novelty value, so if you want to get into the spirit of things, hire yourself a Bavarian costume.


What if I don’t like beer?


It could be a challenge if you’re not into beer. While there’s a fairground and craft activities also on site, it would be difficult to get into the spirit of things. Although having said that, wine is also a big part of Oktoberfest. There are more than 15 varieties of very good German wines on offer. So if you don’t like beer, but enjoy a glass of wine, you’ll still feel at home here.


What’s the history of Oktoberfest?


The first Oktoberfest dates back to 1810 and was held to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Theresa of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Munich citizens were invited to celebrate in Theresienwiese (Theresa’s fields in English) for five days, which back then were the fields in front of the city gates. The event was such a hit it’s been hosted there ever since.


Don’t forget travel insurance


If you’re heading over to Germany, don’t forget the importance of travel insurance, even if it’s only for a couple of days. With Coverontrip travel insurance, we provide cover for medical emergencies, trip cancellation, baggage and money, and loads more. With prices starting from just £2.74 for three days cover to Germany, based on a 25 year old, get a quote today.