Lisa Rivera

Get out the beer mugs and the Bavarian costumes, because the annual beer party that is Oktoberfest is here!

Though the festival name suggests it takes place in the month of October, it actually starts in mid-September and runs from 16 to 18 days to the first weekend in October!

The first Oktoberfest celebrated the marriage of Prince Ludwig's marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in October 1810. However, it was gradually moved earlier to September so that revellers could enjoy warmer weather conditions.

Barrels

The birthplace of the event is Munich in the Bavaria region of Germany, and you either go big here, or go home.

Of course, many countries hold their own beer swigging events to mark the German fiesta, so if Munich’s a little far for you to travel, there’s bound to be something closer to home.

If you’ve never been to Oktoberfest, and would like to do it properly, you need to go to Munich. And this post will give you all the [travel inspiration] you need to have the best Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest – what to expect

The basics

This year, Oktoberfest started on 16 September in the Bavarian capital. There’s no time to even think of a having a lie-in here, as many people arrive around 9am to secure the best seats! So, no, you won’t be having granola for breakfast here!

Munich

There are many beer tents to choose from in Oktoberfest, and knowing which one to go to is important. One thing you should know is that entrance to the beer tents is free! Opening times are usually from 10am to midnight, but vary on the weekends.

Beer tents

Oktoberfest is comprised of big and small beer tents. From the big ones, there are 14 to choose from, and over 10 smaller tents. Schottenhamel is one of the most important of the big tents, as it’s where the festivities begin.

Each have their own unique character and selling point, so take a look at the website to decide which one best suits you.

Reservations aren’t necessary to enter the beer tents, but you may want to consider doing so. Once the tents are full, you won’t be able to enter, which would put a real downer on your Oktoberfest experience!

Beer tent

On the weekends, the tents tend to fill up by 11am, so it pays to get there as early as possible. If you’re travelling with children under the age of 6, they’re welcome, but they need to leave the tent by 8pm.

Dress

Dressing up is half the fun at Oktoberfest, and don’t even think about turning up in jeans and a t-shirt. Women can take their pick from the beautiful to the racier (!) variety of dirndl costumes.

Dirndl

While the top half can be on the revealing side, the longer length skirt will help regain back some of your modesty — if you wish!

For men, there’s no holding back with the traditional Bavarian costume. Leather shorts, shirt, cardigan (or waistcoat), completed by knee high brown socks, and rather fetching Bavarian calf sock!

Mens costume

If that’s not all, you can top off the look with an Oktoberfest beer hat, or a more traditional felt version.

Other activities

If you do fancy a break from the beer drinking, Oktoberfest has other activities sure to delight. These include the very popular Oktoberfest Costume and Riflemen’s Parade which happens every year on the first Wiesn Sunday.

Parade

Other noteworthy events also include the Parade of Oktoberfest Landlords and Breweries, the Oktoberfest mass and the Official Tapping of the Keg.

Smoking

Bavaria brought in the no-smoking law in 2010. It prohibits smoking in public places such as bars, restaurants, and yes, beer tents.

That said, if you’re a smoker, take it outside, or risk facing a hefty German fine.

Belongings

Suffice it to say, you won’t be needing many belongings apart from money to really enjoy Oktoberfest. Backpacks and large bags are generally not allowed in the beer tents, and honestly, you wouldn’t want to, given the atmosphere gets very boisterous.

Backpack

If you do bring baggage with you, make sure it’s no bigger than 20cm x 15cm x 10cm. Security will check your bag and add a security check tag. If your bag does exceed the size, you can take it to a secure locking station, but of course at a price.