Everything you need to know about going to the Munich Oktoberfest

The Munich Oktoberfest parade

The Munich Oktoberfest festivities actually begin before the first keg is tapped.  But the Munich Oktoberfest is not only about guys in Lederhosen, women in dirndl, liters of beer and crazy beer tents. The Munich Oktoberfest has always been connected with ancient Bavarian customs and traditions. One such tradition are the Munich Oktoberfest parades that takes place on the very first weekend of the Munich Oktoberfest. The Opening day parade on Saturday and on Sunday the Trachten- und Schützenzug parade.

I would recommend somewhere along the southside of Schwanthalerstrasse which is just a block from the main train station to watch the parades. From there it is about a 10-15 minute walk to the Munich Oktoberfest grounds. The opening day parade involves about 1000 people and include the tent owners in magnificent horse drawn carriages and their family friends and some lucky servers who get to on decorated floats. The Mayor arrives at the Munich Oktoberfest grounds and taps the first keg and Prosit. The party begins.

The Trachten- and Schützenzug parade on Sunday is the real one to watch thugh and is the largest costume parade in the world. Between 8.000 and 10.000 people walk the 4 mile parade route straight through the heart of the city of Munich. Among them are 70 or so traditional bands from all the regional cities. So if you are into traditional costumes and traditions this is the really is the one to go to. Anything that even resembles modern times is strictly frowned upon. Carriages and floats are all horse drawn and all decorations are made with flowers and natural materials.

Most local people will bring a beer or two and some food along to watch the parade. Drinking in public in Germany is allowed. Arrive early if you want to find a seat on some building steps. The Munich Oktoberfest attracts 7 million visitors so it is just slightly crowded.

How To Get Table Reservations In A Munich Oktoberfest Tent

Germans love careful planning almost as much as beers and festivals, which means they plan for the Munich Oktoberfest months in advance. For most tents, you can make a table reservation for the Munich Oktoberfest starting in January or February, with confirmations sent out around March.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Munich Oktoberfest Reservations

Pick the Oktoberfest beer tent that you would like to visit. Each has its own personality ranging from family music. Don’t worry in all the tents you’ll get a heaping dose of traditional Ein Prosit songs and John Denver Take Me Home Country Road.  Most Munich Oktoberfest tents offer online reservations and have English translations on their websites, but some still prefer more traditional methods like email, phone, or even fax-yes it still is used. You have to include how many people will attend and the day and time of your visit when you book your reservation.

The beer tents require a minimum of 10 people for one table, and guests can be only be added in multiples of 10. The reservation is free, but you have to purchase food and drink coupons (usually for a roasted chicken or bratwurst and a mas of beer) in advance. These prepaid coupons are usually between 20 and 80 Euro per person depending on the beer tent. If you have less than 10 people, you’ll have to pay for the entire table but you’ll get the money back in food and drink vouchers-or you can sell a reservation and the coupons to someone else either their or on craigslist or facebook. Trust me if you have a prie time reservation you on’t have any problems finding someone to fill up your table. At the Munich Oktoberfest, make sure to be on time; otherwise, the beer tent might let your reservation go.

What to do if You Don’t have Reservations for the Munich Oktoberfest

The Germans love rules and one of the rules is that the tents are required to keep one-third of the seats in the central aisle unreserved during weekdays. If you arrive when the tents opens at 9 a.m you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy until sitting in a tent. During the week reservations kick in at 4 p.m.

If you’re smart, arrive early and plan to visit during off-peak periods like weekdays, then you’ll have no trouble finding a table to slot in, even without a reservation.

Plan B if you find the tents are too crowded and you can’t find a seat anywhere if the weather is good is to head to one of Munich’s famous Beer Gargdens. The Augustiner Beer Garden is just a few short blocks from the Oktoberfest grounds. However, some of these biergartens may also be much more crowded than the individual beer tents as the locals know it and want to get in a little bit of sunshine before the weather turns cold.

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Beer tents at the Munich Oktoberfest

One of the building packed with people at Oktoberfest in Munich

  1. Armbrustschützen-Festzelt

Run by the shooting club ‘Winzerer Fähndl Schützengilde’ it is providing room to accommodate around 7,500 people. Decorated in the unmistakable style of the Alpine foothills, the German crossbow championships are traditionally held here every year during the Oktoberfest. The meat for the Bavarian delicacies comes entirely from their own livestock and great attention is paid to ensuring the quality is carefully monitored. More information (in German)

Augustiner Munich Oktberfest

2. Augustiner-Festhalle (Local town favorite)

For a unique Munich Oktoberfest experience, head for the Augustiner Festhalle. Augustiner is the locals favorite beer and this is their favorite beer tent. Its particularly authentic atmosphere is partly thanks to the fact that the beer served here comes from Munich’s oldest brewery and is still tapped from classic wooden kegs. The regional delicacies and the friendly waiters and waitresses also make the Augustiner tent one of the most rustic of them all. More information (in German)

Festzelt Tradition auf der Oidn Wiesn, Foto: Katy Spichal

3. Festzelt Tradition

Foto: Katy Spichal

This rustic old fashioned beer tent, one of the two big tents on the site of the historic Munich Oktoberfest (“Oide Wiesn”), really deserves its name. Visitors are invited to celebrate like in the old days, with beer being served in mugs made of stonewear. (don’t plan on stealing one as plenty of guards are watching at the door) traditional bavarian music and dance, is mandatory here. People who come to this beer tent usually enjoy a more laid-back and calm version of Oktoberfest. Up to 5.000 people can sit inside, while the outside area holds 3.000 seats. More information (in German)

4. Fischer-Vroni (Pescatarian Heaven)

If you feel like sampling something other than the traditional roasted chicken, giant pretzels and other German fare, the highly traditional tent of Fischer-Vroni is just the place. As well as the usual Munich Oktoberfest delights, the menu includes numerous fish dishes and, of course, the original Bavarian Steckerlfisch (fish on a stick) – a typical speciality. More information (in German)

5. Hacker Festzelt (Loved By Gen X and Y’rs)

It truly is the heaven of the Bavarians: the Hacker Festzelt. With its famous white and blue ceiling is one of the most famous tents of the Okotberfest. It provides room for around 9,300 partiers and is the size of a football field.  More information (in German)

Herzkasperl Festzelt auf der Oidn Wiesn, Foto: Katy Spichal

6. Herzkasperlzelt (Traditional Oktoberfest)

Foto: Katy Spichal

The smaller one of the two main beer tents on the “Oide Wiesn”, the Herzkasperl Festzelts holds around 1.500 seats on the inside. It focuses on traditional fun atmosphere with comedians, music, dancing and more bavarian entertainment although John Denver and Sieera Madre are still played. The Herzkasperl Festzelt serves  typical bavarian dishes and Pschorr-brewed beer. More information (in German)

7. Hofbräu-Festzelt (Tourist Trap)

The Hofbräuhaus is known far beyond the borders of Bavaria with other tourist traps in places such as Las Vegas, with its reputation extending around the world. The same goes for the Hofbräu-Festzelt. Almost 10,000 people can be squeezed in here and there’s even a outdoor area for enjoying a litre or two of beer. The ceiling is decorated every year with 16 tonnes of hops, in the middle of which the angel Aloisius sings his grumpy hosanna. More information (in German)

Käfers Wiesnschenke auf dem Oktoberfest, Foto: Leonie Liebich

8. Käfer Wies’n-Schänke (Small but easier to get into to)

Foto: Leonie Liebich

The Wies’n-Schänke is not really a proper tent because it is made from solid wood and is more reminiscent of an old farmhouse. It was set up at the Oktoberfest for the first time in 1971 and offers space indoors and outdoors for a total of 3,000 guests. In addition to beer, non-beer drinkers can party with overpriced champagne which is also served to accompany the delicatessen and various specialities. More information (in German)

Weinzelt auf dem Oktoberfest

9. Kufflers Weinzelt (Subdued atmosphere)

Wine and beer make for a great mood! This tnt is a mixture of both. For over 200 years now, people who like drinking wine have also been enjoying the world’s largest festival. The Weinzelt (wine tent) also looks quite different from the neighbouring tents – instead of beer benches, guests sit in u-shaped wooden booths, reminiscent of a German Franconian wine garden. It’s also more quiet and less rowdy than the other tents. More information (in German)

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10. Löwenbräu-Festzelt (Not the Lowenbrau you remember in the States)

Although it’s pretty hard not to spot the Löwenbräu-Festzelt with its high tower, you certainly can’t fail to hear it. Above the entrance sits a mighty lion which roars its unmistakable “Lööööwenbräu” every minute for everyone to hear. It is therefore no surprise that the players of of one of Munichs soccor teams-TSV 1860, better known as ‘die Löwen’ (the lions), are regular guests here. It is one of the more wilder tents) More information (in German)

Das Marstall Zelt auf dem Oktoberfest in München ersetzte das Hippodrom., Foto: Immanuel Rahman

11. Marstall Festzelt

Foto: Immanuel Rahman

The Marstall Festzelt replaced the famous world famous Hippodrom a few years ago. The tent has a capacity of more than 4.000 seats takes its name from the former riding school of the bavarian court. So it’s no big surprise that the Marstall’s design is “horse”-themed. Some visitors, though, might be more interested in the Spaten beer and typical bavarian delicacies served here. Still as fun as the Hippodrom was. More information (in German)

Ochsenbraterei at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

12. Ochsenbraterei (Spaten-Spaten-who has the Spaten)

Oxen have formed the focal point at the Ochsenbratereifor the last 130 years, with over 100 of these horned animals being consumed over the course of the Oktoberfest. Each ox is personally selected by the tent owner. In keeping with tradition, the first ox that is consumed at the Munich Oktoberfest bears the name of the butcher, the last the name of the chef. More information (in German)

13. Paulaner Festzelt

The Paulaner Festzelt, formerly known as the Winzerer Fähndl, can be easily spotted from a distance because of the huge beer tankard that rotates on top of the tent’s tower and its cornerstone location. This lovingly decorated tent is renowned for its cosy atmosphere and has a large number of regular guests, including the players of FC Bayern-Munichs other soccor team. The clientele is a little older – one reason why it is so easygoing here and not quite as wild as in the other tents. More information (in German)

14. Pschorr Festzelt Bräurosl (LGBT friendly)

Most commonly known as simply Bräurosl, this tent was named in honour of Rosi Pschorr, the daughter of the brewery owner and former publican here at the Oktoberfest. Particular importance is attached to the musical entertainment, which traditionally features the tent’s very own a female yodeller. Another tradition, albeit a fairly recent one, is serving as the meeting place of the gay community on the first Sunday of the Munich Oktoberfest. More information (in German)

Schottenhammel tent at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

15. Schottenhamel-Festhalle

The Schottenhamel-Festhalle is the oldest continually operated and most traditional tent, with the Schottenhamel family being represented at the Oktoberfest since as far back as 1867. Ever year sees the traditional tapping of the first keg of beer by the Mayor of Munich after the Saturday parade. On average the public that attends is very young and student-oriented, making the tent a popular meeting place for young people. More information (in German)

16. Schützen-Festzelt (Smaller and tamer)

The traditional Munich Oktoberfest shooting competition of the Bavarian Sport Shooting Association takes place here and guests can watch the action at the 110 shooting stands outside. Because the beer garden of the Schützenzelt is protected against the wind, it is still pleasantly cosy outdoors even when the weather is cool. More information (in German)

17. Smaller beer tents

It’s not all about size at the Munich Oktoberfest. The smaller beer tents may have less seating places than their famous counterparts. But you can still get the real atmosphere here, in combination with traditional music, delicious Bavarian specialties, and of course beer. Some of the smaller tents have been favorites of festival-goers for many years.

Purchase Your Ticket

The popular MaßPass Package will return for 2019: $120 ($150 value – does NOT include VIP Terrasse admission!) Includes four days admission, collectible credential, food and beverage vouchers, private restroom and hospitality facilities and more!

Read More: Purchase Your Ticket

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A Brief History of the Munich Oktoberfest and Why You Should Celebrate in 2019

The Munich Oktoberfest taps the first keg on September 21 (despite its October name) and runs for two weeks ending the first weekend in October. So, Oktoberfest takes place in September and celebrates a March beer? Das stimmt! The parade is an integral part of the Oktoberfest in Munich. The first Oktoberfest parade was held 25 years after the wedding of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese for their wedding anniversary. in 1895, another such parade was organized by the German writer Maximilian Schmidt with roughly 150 groups. But it was not until 1950 that the costume parade became an annual event and one of the highlights of the Oktoberfest.

The Munich Oktoberfest is a large agricultural celebration every two years. Every two years a agricultural fair is attached to it. You can’t drink what Americans think Oktoberfest beer is at the Munich Oktoberfest except in one small area of the fest known as the old (Alt) area. Now mostly a Helles Style beer is served at the main fest. Traditionally Märzen beer was brewed in March, laid down in casks during the summer, and aged to be ready for the celebration. It used to be that before you go and plant your fields in the summer, you brew one last beer for the year, and that is in March.

The original Munich Oktoberfest party was a little different, as it was simply a royal wedding and a horse race. Oktoberfest began on October 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig got married to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. These royals strayed from tradition and turned the wedding into a public party, inviting the people of Munich to come to the fields in front of the city gates and celebrate the union. Believe it or not, Oktoberfest didn’t come to begin because a few beer-loving Bavarians decided it was time to establish one of the longest running and most popular beer festivals in the world. What was to become the famous Munich Oktoberfest was originally intended to be a one-time celebration of royal marriage. In 1810, Bavaria’s King Maximillian I. Joseph declared a 2-day festival in mid-October to celebrate the wedding of his son, Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese. Free beer and food were offered at various locations across Munich and who doesn’t like free beer and a free party and even a horse race was held. The event was such a hit as well as a symbol of national unity and was such a hit among the royal family and the people that they decided to hold a similar celebration, complete with beer and horse races, the following year. The celebration was eventually lengthened tp two weeks and eventually moved up on the calendar a few weeks to accommodate better weather.

Two-hundred plus years later, with only a few missed years in between mainly because of wars, the Munich Oktoberfest continues to be held in Munich in the last two weeks of September into the first weekend of October. The event continues to host horse races, lots of music, carnival attractions and, of course, beer, beer and more beer. With attendance sometimes reaching 7 million, the amount of beer purchased and consumed is impressive. It may not come as any surprise if you are familiar with the German beer purification laws (Reinheitsgebot), but the Oktoberfest has even more restrictions on what beers can be served at their illustrious beer event. All beers have to be brewed withing Munich city limits so you won’t find other German beers like Becks, Weihenstephan, Andechs or Ayinger at the fest.

Where to Stay in Munich: The Best Hotels & Areas for Travellers

As one of the best places to visit in Germany, finding accommodations in Munich isn’t always easy. Munich is a large warmhearted Bavarian city with a touch of moderness mixed in, with a large array of hotels from which to choose. Finding a place to stay during the Munich Oktoberfest can be a challenge. We’d like to offer our suggestions for hotels in Munich at every price-point.

The cultural heart of Munich and the best place to stay in Munich is in the altstadt in the area near the Marienplatz, if you are a museum lover. Many of Munich’s 80 museums, the Residenz and the Bavarian State Opera House are located in this neighborhood. It also has easy access to the Munich Oktoberfest via the S-bahn.

Runner up to that area there are a plethora of hotels near the main train station aka the Hauptbahnhof. These hotels come in all levels of ratings from hostels to 5 stars. If you think you may overindulge at the Munich Oktoberfest this is the area to stay in.

Luckily Munich has great public transportation on the S-bahn and U-Bahn systems that are easy to navigate. So staying further out of the city is also an option albeit you won’t have as much fun if your main objective is to party. If you don’t mind travelling 30 minutes or so the areas to the south at Starnberg and Tutzing are pleasent places to visit. Further out the town of Herrsching also has a number of lakeside hotels worth considering. There are also a number of nice hotels up near the airport in the area of Freising.

Our top 10 choices for Hotels to stay at during

the Munich Oktoberfest:

  1. 25 Hours Hotel-The Royal Bavarian

Located across the street from The Hauptbahnhof, The Royal Bavarian may be a little pricey but comes with some bells and whistles other high end hotels may not have such as free bicycle loaners and even a Free Mini you can drive (based on first come first served availability). The beds are also extremely comfortable.

  1. Hotel Uhland 

Located just a half a block away from the Munich Oktoberfest grounds you might think it might be noisy. However it is located on a quiet residential street. The breakfast in the morning is hearty. This one was mentioned by Rick Steeves in his travel books many years ago and has been popular ever since. The location can’t be beat.

  1. Hotel Am Markt

Located close to the Marienplatz, just outside the Viktuliernmarkt which is an everyday farmers market and beer garden the location is great especially if you are out on the town after the Munich Oktoberfest. It is literally stumbling distance from some of the popular Munich beer halls. Don’t expect luxery here, but you are paying for the location.

  1. Bold Hotel

Located right across from the Munich Oktoberfest, The Bold Hotel offers apartment style accommodations but with the hotel touch of having a breakfast buffet. It also offers long stay rates so if you would like to make Munich your home base while you explore Bavaria it is certainly an option.

  1. 5. Aloft Hotel

Aloft Hotel is a Marriott property. As such you know it is going to be clean and well kept up. It is located near the Hauptbahnhof. It has a self serve gourmet pantry, 24 hour fitness area-(not that you will be using it) and is one of the newer hotels in the areas so it has all the bells and whistles you may want.

  1. The Prinz Hotel

Located near the river Isar with a view of the city. The hotel is located in one of Munichs nicer neighborhoods and is just around the corner from the Deutsches Museum which is great for science and technology buffs. Public transportation options are plentiful nearby. They also have bike rentals should you wish to explore the city.

  1. Gästehaus Englischer Garten 

Also located away from the din of the Munich Oktoberfest but nonetheless in a great area of Munich called Schwabing. The English Gardens (Munich’s version of Central Park) are nearby as well as a vibrant nightlife scene. The rooms and Hotel are also more cozy and quaint than the traditional hotel choices.

  1. Hotel Laimer Hof

This is in an 1880’s house, complete with its own mini-turret. It is near the Nymphenburg Palace, located about 6 miles from the Munich Oktoberfest it has great public transportation options. It has an awesome vibe to it. The Hotel could probably use some updating but trust me the money you save by getting out of the center of town is worth it.

  1. Youth Hostel in Possenhofen

ABout 30 minutes or so out on Lake Starnberg this youth hostel is a lot nicer than the ones located in the center of Munich, The Hostel is a 10 minute walk from the train station in Posenhofen and just 5 minutes from the Possenhofen castle.

  1. Gasthof Hotel Zur Post in Herrsching

This hotel dates from 1456 in the village of Herrsching which is the last stop on the S8 S-bahn. Even though it is further out it is worth mentioning because not only is the hotel nice, the lake is beautiful and it is close to one of Bavaria’s gem’s the monastery at Andechs-where the monks still make great beer.

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Kloster Andechs

Other Things to Do in Munich

Bavaria’s capital is full of great sights and things to do besides the Munich Oktoberfest.  It has amazing restaurants and beer gardens. Everyone goes to the world famous Hofbrauhaus but take the time to go across the street to Ayinger am Platzl for some Horseradish Soup and a fresh cask beer tapped everyday at 5:00. And when you are in that area the Schneider Brauhaus has a Eisbock that makes the perfect final final beer of the night. It’s about 11% ABV…Muniich has beautiful Baroque style churches and museums of the highest order. I mentioned Andechs before-it should be on everyone’s bucket list as a 1/2 day trip to there to visit the church and beer garden,it could well be a highlight of your trip. But back to Munich, Munich’s Kunstareal is a cluster of art museums with a lot of masterpieces so it’s difficult to know where to begin. The palaces in the city are two of the many attractions to take in, and you may catch sight of Alps from the top of the Rathaus and St Peter’s Church if the weather is clear. Munich is also the city of the world-famous BMW factory and museum. The Olympic Stadium is a great visit. The Englischer Gardens were mentioned earlier but where else can you go and enjoy a day watching surfers in the river as well as enjoy some quiet beer gardens in the middle of a city. On a somber note you could visit Dachau or the Olympic Village-the site of the 1972 terrorist attack. More pleasent would be day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen and to visit some of the areas where The Great Escape were filmed or to Salzburg to take in all the Sound Of Music sites.

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