EIN PROST DER GEMÜTLICHKEIT!
That’s, “A toast to cheer and good times” to you and me. Learn this phrase, and you’ll be making new friends left, right and centre at this year’s Oktoberfest, which kicks off next week. In fact, Youtube it and learn the song as you’ll be hearing it every 20 minutes, and joining in will not only seriously impress your Bavarian neighbours but will enable you to feel like a seasoned veteran of this annual folk festival dedicated to beer and as much bratwurst as you can shake a stick at.
As the world’s largest Volkfest – held since 1810 – Oktoberfest is something everyone should experience in their life at least once. With 6 million+ visitors every year, and over 7 million litres of beer consumed, it can be quite an overwhelming experience. Below we have listed our top 10 tips to make the most out of your visit and, most importantly, ensure you survive one of the greatest cultural [sic: drinking] festivals in the world!
- Get into the spirit
It’s a fact; everyone looks good in lederhosen (for the boys) and dirndls (for the girls.) If you show up in jeans and a t-shirt you will definitely be outnumbered by this national dress of Bavaria. Fully immerse yourself and either purchase your outfit from one of the many stores on the roads leading to the festival (cheap ‘tourist versions’ are sold by the train station), or there are plenty of places to hire an outfit for the day for around €30. It’s worth it for the photos.
- Plan your route
To make the most out of the day, prior research into which tents you want to enter will ensure you actually get in, for those left wandering around trying to figure out which one they want to get into will not get into any. Each tent is sponsored by a different brewery and only serve their beer, so it really is worth checking beforehand.
- Take cash
Oktoberfest is cash only, so don’t get caught short trying to buy a round. Luckily lederhosen and dirndl’s have plenty of storage space to stash your money (just not the steins. See #6.) Choose an easy-to access (and easy to remember!) spot for your emergency cash for a cab home for when the time inevitably comes that you don’t want to trek back through the streets of Munich after one stein too many, trying to search for your hotel in amongst thousands of other revellers. Plan how much you want to take so you don’t run out of cash on the first day: an average beer (one litre) costs c. €10.50.
- Don’t try and keep up with the locals
Some locals have been attending Oktoberfest every year since they were old enough to drink, while drinking in between (obviously.) As the beer for Oktoberfest is brewed stronger than what we might be used to, this higher % can really catch you off-guard, especially if you’re drinking litres of the stuff.
- Ask for a Radler
If you’re starting to feel it, ask for a Radler, the German equivalent of a shandy. No one will know. You may even impress your friends for speaking the lingo.
- Don’t steal the glasses!
Get caught with an Oktoberfest stein and expect to get fined at least €50, and in some cases, an overnight stay in jail. Respect the stein.
- Get there early
If you can, head to Oktoberfest mid-week and before lunchtime to avoid the peak footfall. Head straight to your chosen tent at 11:00 latest and order lunch. By the time it arrives, it will be time to start drinking and you will be one of the smug ones with a seat.
- Ein Prost der Gemütlichkeit
Learn at least the first verse of this Bavarian drinking song. You won’t regret it when you’re a few pints in and ready to join in with the locals bellowing from the table-tops.
- Be courteous to the waiters
They bring you the beer, they’re your new favourite person, and they know everything. Arrive at a full tent? Ask nicely and they’ll show you to a space where you can squeeze onto the end of a bench, or at least grab your attention when a seat becomes free. Be really nice and they might bring you your beer first.
- Pace yourself
Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t want to find yourself face down in the middle of Munich at lunchtime while passersby tut rauschade (drunkard!) If you want to keep drinking, ask for a hoiwe, a half beer, or the aforementioned radler.