The 183rd Oktoberfest has officially begun. As per tradition, festivities kicked off with the tapping of the first Oktoberfest-beer-barrel by the Mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, in the Schottenhamel Tent. The customary “O’zapft is!” (“It is open!”) was yelled to the crowd, signifying the start of the 16-day event. This years celebrations will continue on until the 3rd of October.
Each year, over 6 million people attend Germany’s Bavarian festival. Most famous for the beer, the Oktoberfest is also the world’s largest folk festival. It originated in 1810, as a horse race to celebrate the royal wedding. But over the years, the event became less about the horses, and a whole lot more about having a good time!
However, with that being said, Oktoberfest is not just an excuse to party. It’s still very much about embracing culture. Specialty foods, traditional clothing, folk music, and dance are celebrated by the masses… with a nice, cold Bavarian beer in hand, of course.
With 14 tents spread out across Munich’s fairgrounds, called the Wiesn, there are few pointers every visitor should keep in mind in order to maximise their experience.
Your Guide to Celebrating Oktoberfest
What to eat:
Fortunately, just about anything you grab to munch on is bound to be good. However, there are definitely a few classics you don’t want to miss.
The Wiesn-Hendl, Oktoberfest-style roasted chicken, is a must-try. It’s typically served with a side of piping hot fries. The Ochsenbraterei tent specializes in a variety of ox dishes. (Rumor has it, the ox burger is the way to go!) The tent is pretty easy to spot- just look out for the giant ox slow-roasting on a huge spit.
If you are looking for traditional Bavarian cuisine, the Armbrustschützen tent and the Fischer-Vroni are a couple of the best places to go. Order the knuckle of pork or any of the traditional sausages with sauerkraut. Bratwurst and Currywurst are the most popular sausages and can be found at almost every single tent. A little more difficult to eat, but well worth the effort, is the Weisswurst (white sausage). You can’t eat the skin of this local specialty, so be ready to get your hands a little dirty. This particular sausage is typically eaten for breakfast. Another Bavarian classic: the Shweinshaxe. It’s a huge, pickled chunk of ham, served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Seafood lovers, you’ll be happy to hear there’s quite the array of crab, fish, and shrimp sandwiches.
While the focal point is definitely meat, one vegetarian dish in particular stands. Dampfnudle, which literally means ‘steamed noodle’, is a bread dumpling cooked with herbs, served with vegetables and cheese. There’s also a sweet version covered in vanilla sauce, hot cherries and melted butter.
Speaking of desserts… warm crepes covered in Nutella or applesauce, as well as waffles with whip cream and chocolate sauce are available to satisfy your sweet tooth. Caramelized nuts are also easy to find and perhaps the best treat to pair with a beer.
Last but not least, no Oktoberfest celebration is complete without a pretzel!
What to drink:
This one’s pretty obvious: beer! Last year, patrons downed 7.5 million litres of the stuff! According to tradition, the only beer sold at the festival’s tents come from Munich breweries. All beers are served in one-litre glasses.
A few tents have wine for those who aren’t so into beer. Hard liquor, however, is not exactly recommended. This festival is all about pacing yourself and if you start matching your buddies drink for drink with something like whisky, while they’re sipping on beer – well then you, my friend, are in trouble.
What to wear:
When it comes to picking out an outfit, it’s all about tradition. For girls, a Bavarian style dirndl dress is what you want to get your hands on. Traditional colors are red, blue, dark green, and pink. The blouse is usually always white. The apron comes in several colors as well, and can be paired to compliment the shade of the dress. Guys – you’ll want to pay attention now. The apron is a very crucial part of a lady’s outfit, as it signifies her availability. A bow tied to the left means she’s single, to the right means she’s taken, in the middle means she’s a virgin, and in the back, can either mean she’s a widow, or a waitress.
Don’t forget to complete the outfit with a drindl hairdo. Go for a French braid, a herringbone braid or a French plait with braids pinned up all around your head for a the most classic looks.
Fellas, I’ll keep your fashion advice short and sweet. You’ll need a pair of Lederhosen leather trousers rolled up to your shins, suspenders, a button up shirt, and white socks.
So there you have it- you’re basic survival guide. I leave you with one last piece of advice: try not loose anything! As can be expected with such an inebriated spectacle, a lot of things tend to “go missing”. One year’s findings included 1056 passports, 520 wallets, 320 mobile phones, 300 bags and packs, 50 cameras, two wedding-rings, a hearing-aid, and a set of false teeth. (The last few are a bit strange, but hey, we’re not judging!)
For all your other questions, this extremely thorough Insider guide will tell you anything you need to know! Weather, transport, tent information, entrance fees, and more; it’s all there.