Similarly named American celebrations pale when compared to the mother of all beer-drinking events: the Oktoberfest in Munich. Yet before you wonder just what happened to all the quintessential Bavarian “Gemuetlichkeit” as your stress sets in, know a few facts before setting foot onto the “Wiesn” (field).
Why is there an Oktoberfest at all?
Ofest explains that Munich’s Oktoberfest dates back to October 12, 1810. Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, and all the locals were invited to celebrate. Honoring their monarch as much as enjoying a good party, the festivity has become an annual event that only cholera epidemics and wars could bring to temporary halts.
Where is the Oktoberfest?
While the “Wiesn” may not have an actual mailing address, the official Oktoberfest website has the skinny. The official name of the field is Theresienwiese, which is usually an empty 100-acre space in Munich’s Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt. Look for the famous Bavaria statue, which is at the head of the field. To the north are the spires of Saint Paul’s church.
When is the Oktoberfest?
In 2012, the festivities begin on September 22 and end on October 7. During the week, beer tents open at 10 a.m. and close at 11:30 p.m. Last call is at 10:30 p.m. Opening times for weekends start at 9 a.m. Family days are scheduled on Tuesdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
What does the beer cost?
This year’s prices range between 9,10 Euros and 9,50 Euros, which translates to about $12.25 for a beer. This buys you one liter of beer (about 34 ounces).
Should I make a reservation for a seat in a beer tent?
Trying to find a place to sit without a reservation is next to impossible. To make a reservation, find a group of nine fellow attendees and visit the actual beer tent to request a time. There is no cost to make the reservation, but you do have to buy meal tickets totaling at least 20 Euros to be permitted to enter a name. This year, there will be 14 large tents and 21 small tents.
If you nevertheless choose not to make a reservation, be ready to see a “closed” sign at the entrances of numerous tents. Since you cannot place a beer order until you have a seat, get ready to play the waiting game. The outdoor beer gardens are an insider tip, since they are first-come-first-serve. If you are not a smoker, prepare yourself to spend some time in the company of those who do light up.
Does it matter which beer tent I visit?
Indeed, it does! If you are a serious beer aficionado, then you should pay attention where your favorite brew is served. For example, Augustiner is only served in the Augustiner-Festhalle and the Fischer-Vroni tent.
Are children allowed to come to the Oktoberfest?
Kids are allowed inside the beer tents until 8 p.m. Strollers are not permitted after 6 p.m. and on Saturdays. The drinking age is 16 and up. That said, keep in mind that it gets very loud inside the tents. Younger children generally do not enjoy the packed crowds, the loud music, and the lack of attention they receive. Get a sitter, or plan to stay outside where the rides are.