When I first told people I was moving to Germany, I remember discussing Oktoberfest. At first, I was unsure if I was going to be able to go. I ended up reuniting with my husband nearly a month later, and was in time for Oktoberfest season. Any time I heard anyone discussing the event, these words came in mind: beer, dirndls, hook ups, passed out, beer, food, beer, cheers, beer.
So, because I’m American and want to experience everything in Germany, when in Germany, do as the Germans. That entails one thing- go to Oktoberfest.
My husband is much more of a drinker than I am, so he was hype. We were going to be traveling just ourselves to Munich (Muchen to Germans), so we had to make a plan. Tyler & I had a feeling one of us was going to be drunk (him), and one can’t drive (me…. Not legally here yet LMAO), so the train system was the way to go.
First off, I am going to explain the best way to travel through southern Germany, AKA Bavaria. There is a pass known as the Bavarian Pass- it is 23 Euro for one person, 28 Euro for 2, and add another 5 Euro (33 Euro for 3, 38 for 4, 43 for 5) for the remaining. The maximum amount of travelers allowed is 5 travelers- kids under the age of 15 are free, so take advantage families. With this pass, you are allowed to travel to any train station within the Bavarian region- the only catch is you MUST follow the train restrictions. You will not be allowed to use this pass on ICE trains, and these prices I listed are for 2nd class. Germans have a habit of being nice if you sit in the wrong section, but if you’re on the wrong train, they will kick you off at the next station. I know- we did it. I was wondering why no one else had a dirndl for the longest time.
When you go to your local train station, there will be a ticket machine. Hit the British flag for English options, and you will be set.
Here is more information on the Bavarian pass, and train systems: http://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/prices/germany-regional/bavaria-ticket.shtml
Now, onto the Oktoberfest celebration-
As an American, I was hype and ready to see what was offered. However, as I have been getting adjusted to German living, it was slightly underwhelming. Germans are known to have fairs in their communities, also known as Volksfests. They are fairs, with different themes and set ups. Some have amusement rides; others have cool themes; and others are just school functions. All have traditional German cuisine and beer on their menus. So, with that said, I wasn’t shocked to see what I saw completely. However, the experience was amazing and nothing I have ever seen before.
With that said, let’s break it down:
Be PREPARED for PARTY TRAIN
C’mon, ride it. I’m not joking- these trains get down and pregame on the way to Munich. When we finally hopped on, we were met with Americans and Germans drinking and already wasted. It was loud, it was messy and it was hilarious. We chatted with a local who people watched with us. If you love people watching, this will be your pregame. Either you will be smart enough to grab a seat or be stuck standing.
KNOW the dirndl code
Okay ladies, the dirndl code is simple. Tie to the left = single, tie to the right = married, tie to the middle = virgin, tie to the back = widow. Now, along with this, make sure your rings are corresponding. I had to switch my bands to the right, and so did my husband. IF YOU ARE MARRIED, PUT THE RING ON IT TO THE RIGHT. Germans will eye ball you and mean mug your husband, like mine, if their rings are on the left. I will give the girls that credit- thank you so much for standing up for me. Also, you don’t have to get a dirndl that is just a dress. I saw belly shirt dirndls, skirt + dirndl top, dirndl top + chaps, and even males in dirndls. The point is, if you are wearing the tradition code, when in Munich, follow the dirndl code and all will be right in the world.
If you want a beer tent, show up early or fight
Seriously though- if you truly want to drink your heart out, feel free to, but get up early. Almost every true beer tent was already under full reservations by the time we arrived. You cannot try to get in after they are filled. When we were walking around, there was a crowd with hundreds, waiting to be reserved. Once inside, you will be wearing a bracelet that lets you in and out. However, there are other options. For more family friendly, there were several beer stations that were 8 Euro, and you were given 3 Euro back if you returned your glass.
We managed to enter one beer tent, and it was because we agreed to eat and drink. The liters were 10 Euro per, and the food was wonderful too. We ended up very lucky, because the Germans are our table were amazing and the server let us take our mugs with us. The food is a little pricey (the cheapest meal in this particular tent was 11 Euro), but there are cheap side options. Also, the food outdoors is reasonable priced.
** Have no fear- if you or another are going to pass out, you or security can carry them on The Hill. I’m not joking- there is a designated hill for belligerent drunks or unconscious folks, and they are put there to rest up.
Timing is EVERYTHING
Okay, we got there kind of late, if you consider 2PM late. If you want a safe clean trip, I recommend getting there much earlier. Different events start to open at different times, but if you are a family or don’t want drama, I recommend going during the morning. One of the biggest aspects is the amusement rides + theme, and it is much less crowded during this time, and cleaner. Within 2 hours of us being there, the trash quadrupled. Also, the crowds became much rowdier the longer we stayed. There were 2 fist fights in front of us, and there was a lot of hook up culture in front of us, compared to even at 2PM.
This is a straight link to questions regarding times and FAQ type of inquiries: http://www.oktoberfest.de/en/article/About+the+Oktoberfest/About+the+Oktoberfest/Dates+and+General+FAQs/751/
Be ready for the experience
I will say that Oktoberfest, though a bit pricey, was completely worth the trip. As a married woman, I loved it. We have no kids, so there was nothing else to worry over, and the fair food was delicious. I believed the beer was phenomenal, and the atmosphere made you feel a part of a community. However, I also think of it as a larger Volksfest, just with an international spin. I heard so many accents and dialects, it was unbelievable. Yet, with our lederhosens and dirndls, we all entered a cultural event that not many can say they have.
With that said, let me add a few facts:
The refugee crisis is a huge deal currently, and I can say I saw absolutely nothing. Everyone was discussing Munich and the only ethnic group I saw were Turks, who live in Germany. There was none of this stereotypical bullshit- we went through where they were rumored to be, and nothing was going on. No protests, no screaming, no rioting… this was all coming from our crowd. The polizei was blocking roads and bridges for people to walk on, and blasting music.
Also, if you want to shop again for next year’s, like Halloween costumes, then do it during this time. I was able to buy a dirndl for 40 Euro and a top for 20. Most of the costumes will be at least half off, if not more. Unfortunately, the lederhosen were still slightly expensive, but the women will have deals.
So, a general break down of costs!
Entry free – 0
Entering a tent – 0, but be prepared to wait
Fair food- 3 – 7 Euro, depending on the type
Rides – ?? Not too sure, because we did not ride any. I was too nervous to leave my stuff anywhere unattended. I want to say 5- 10 Euro per, because most were focused on drinking, but they were still in high demand and that was some of the prices I saw from walking.
Beer – 8 – 10 Euro
Trickets – 4 Euro +. Definitely shop around.
Kid friendly- yes, but be careful. Strollers are not allowed in the tents, and the crowd is quite rough due to overcrowding, so I would think of other methods.
This is another link to help plan your trip!
Hope you enjoyed!