Expectations vs Reality: Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest… Whenever I tell people I’m from Germany, people tell me two things: 1. Aw, I love Berlin! and/or 2. I’ve been to Oktoberfest and I loved it!
Well, Germany’s more than just those two destinations, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is: It’s about time for our 4th season (that’s what people from Munich call Oktoberfest, btw) and because I’m sure there are a few people out there who plan a trip, here’s a bit of a reality check for you.

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On the last night of Oktoberfest, they hand out sparkling candles and everyone lights them up during the last song.

First and probably most important: Oktoberfest is NOT in October. Well, it is for a few days, but it usually starts in the middle of September. This year, the first day is September 16th and it goes on until October 3rd. Why does it end on a Tuesday? Because that’s our national holiday (Tag der deutschen Einheit). That’s why it normally ends around October 3rd (or after that, in case it’s a Friday or Satuday).

Let’s talk about tables. No, you can’t just walk into a tent and expect to get a table unfortunately. But you also can’t reserve a table a week before either. Or a month for that matter. Normally, tables are fully booked around 10-11 months before Oktoberfest. So if you want to go to Oktoberfest 2018, be quick and reserve a table on October 4th! *
That doesn’t mean that all tables are reservered inside and you have no chance of having a good time. There’s always quite a big amount of tables that are free to grab. Obviously you have more chance during the week than on weekends, but a lot of time it’s just luck.
A tip: Go and pick a table with older or really drunk people and let one or two people of your group try to sneak in. Usually those groups leave after a while and you have the table to yourself. But just to not be rude, always ask if you can sit down to order a beer or food first (they usually don’t serve you if you don’t have a table).
If you want to have a table completely to yourself, wake up early and be there when the tents open! On the first day, this happens between 7 and 8am, depending on the door you choose,Β  but beer isn’t served until 12pm, when they officially called “O’Zapft is!”. On weekdays, the first beer is served at 10am, on the weekends it’s 9am.Β  Unfortunately I can’t tell you which door is best to use because they don’t really have a system for that.
Beer is served every day until 10pm and the tents close at 11pm. You can either decide to head out to a Munich club, since they all have After Wiesn specials or you go home, sleep and be ready to do the whole thing again the day after!

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Hacker tent

 

Oktoberfest beer is strong. And I mean that quite literally, it’s a stronger beer than people usually drink. This means that when you think you can drink around 3-4 liters, you might not be able to, even if you normally drink that much beer on a night out. It just hits you harder.

I would like to give you a tent guide but I haven’t been in a while and I actually believe that you can have fun wherever you end up going if you’re only with the right people.

But one more thing (important for girls and boys): The bow-rule. Girls/Women wear a Dirndl with an apron. This apron and especially where they tie the bow has a meaning:
Left: Single.
Right: Taken.
Middle: Virgin.
Back: Widow.
There are people out there who say that you only tie your bow on the right when you are actually married, but I think we live in a time and day where some people never get married and are still in a committed relationship, so for me right bow means taken in any way.
So boys, be careful who you hit on, there might be a big strong boyfriend or husband waiting for you on the next table!

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* planning ahead is actually really important in general. If you are coming from somewhere else, book flights / busses / trains a good while ahead. Most importantly though, book your accommodation! Every hotel gets 100%-200% more expensive around Oktoberfest time and you just won’t be able to afford it the closer it gets. So book ahead!

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