It’s no surprise that the biggest celebration of Oktoberfest happens in Munich. After all, it is the place where the tradition was born, all the way back in 1810.
How it started
The first Oktoberfest opened with a big horse race. The occasion was the wedding of Bavarian King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The venue was a meadow (at that time) on the outskirts of the city, which is henceforth called “Theresienwiese” in honor of the bride. The celebration still happens in the same area today.
The tradition was born in the year right after, mostly as a practical opportunity to showcase farming achievements. One year later, the first merry-go-round and two swings are set up. From then on, there are more and more rides every year – today, more than a hundred rides offer fun to visitors.
Now Oktoberfest in Munich is the biggest public festival in the world, with over 6 million participants from all over the world, all of them consuming around 7 million liters of beer (each!).
Fun fact: The second largest Oktoberfest in the world takes place in Blumenau, in south Brazil (yes, Blumenau like the district in Munich), with over 700.000 participants each year and a true feeling of the original festival. You can check them out right here.
What can you do at Oktoberfest
There’s music, there’s delicious food for every taste, there are games and entertainment for every age and there is well…beer! Oktoberfest traditionally includes a few events carried out each year like:
- The parade of the Wiesn (how the locals lovingly call Oktoberfest) on the first day of the festival;
- Oktoberfest tapping and opening ceremony when “O’zapft is!” is being shouted and the festival officially begins;
- The traditional costume and hunters parade on the first Sunday of the festival;
- The traditional gun salutes by the Bavaria statue on the last day of Oktoberfest.
There are also 2 designated days for families when all rides and performances are discounted. Pretty cool, right?
You can find more about the full schedule and activities available here.
How can you enjoy it
Depending on which day you’d like to attend the festivities and the number of people in your party, you may want to consider making reservations or at least researching what is a good time to show up. In order to get a beer in Oktoberfest, you must be seated. Every beer tent comes with its own rules. A bit of an organized jungle if you ask us.
If you’re a planner, you can learn more about how to book a table on the official website for the festivities.
If you’re more the type that just wings it, going in the morning, around 10:30 am, when the tents open might get you the seat you want to be able to enjoy Oktoberfest. Weekdays all the way to Friday are working best for this approach. For obvious reasons, starting on Friday, it gets busy.
If you’re a daredevil trying to just show up on a Saturday evening. Oh, well! Let’s just say that you’d better put your charms to good use.
Where should you stay
Ah, accommodation! Our favourite thing about Oktoberfest, right after a good old bratwurst. First things first, this is the second thing you should be thinking about, right after making the decision of attending. We have mentioned it before, both in writing and in our video content on Tik Tok, that Oktoberfest has a high influence on the rental prices on the market, both during the times it takes place and after.
If you don’t have any friends in Munich that can give you their spare room or couch to sleep on during the days you’d like to attend, there are a few options for you:
- Camping (yes, camping).
When it comes to hotels, it’s important to know that the bookings for the period that Oktoberfest takes place are usually made months ahead, sometimes even a year before. And apart from that, price is another very important point. With the high traffic of tourists, you can expect high prices.
Oktoberfest is located at Theresienwiese, which is part of the Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt borough. Staying in any hotel here will put you in close distance to the Oktoberfest grounds, and also close to a lot of fun activities in Munich. Is this the best choice? Location-wise, yes. Price wise, not so much. If you want our advice, look for hotels along the U-bahn lines that have stops in Theresienwiese. Munich is a pretty compact city, so a trip will take around 30 minutes or less. There are 8 entrances to the festival, so any good hotel along the U3, U4, U5 or U6 lines should be just what you need, without breaking the bank.
Airbnbs can be a very good option, especially if you are looking for a cheaper alternative and you love that homey feeling even when you travel. The same rules apply, look for places along the same U-bahn lines and you should be able to make the most out of your experience in Munich.
Hostels in Munich can be pretty nice, some of them even offer private rooms alongside the usual bunk beds. If you’re willing to cramp up a little bit for a cheaper price, once again, the same U-bahn lines are going to be your best friend.
Camping is the last accommodation option for Oktoberfest. If you have a van or a tent that you’d like to use, there are two main camping sites available, one of them in Trudering-Riem, and another one in Riem. You can also directly book a tent from the camping site.
Last, but not least, to be able to make the most out of your Oktoberfest experience, make sure you do it responsibly. From our experience, 2 days is usually enough to enjoy everything the festival has to offer.
With this being said, Prost!