In 2015, I went to Oktoberfest with 10 other guys for my Bachelor Party. In short, it was an amazing experience, and it is something that everyone must do at least once in their lifetime. In this post, I wanted to give some advice to the overall experience.
Background on Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest 2015 runs from September 19th, 2015 to October 3rd, 2015 in Munich (Muenchen). It typically is a 16 day festival that runs from the third Saturday in September to the first Sunday in October. Within Munich, the festival is located at Theresienwiese.
There are 14 large tents that each hold thousands of people. We went to the Hofbrau-Festzelt, Winzerer Fahndl (Pauliner), and Armbrustschutzenzelt (Pauliner).
Within a tent, there are two primary areas: Reservations and Non-Reservations. Depending on the tent, there might also be a section for Muenchen Residents. The Non-Reservations section is typically located closest to the band. The bar maids at the Non-Reservation tables will simply squeeze you onto a bench that holds 10 people. If all the benches have 10 people, you are then out of luck.
There are two sessions for reservations: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM and 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Tip #1: Dress Up
It is Oktoberfest. You should go out and buy some Lederhosen. There are plenty of opportunities in Munich to buy Lederhosen. Lederhosen cost us 80 Euro each plus 10 Euro for socks. We brought a checked shirt otherwise we would have had to spend another 20 Euro on a shirt.
Dirndl’s (Outfit for Women) was a bit cheaper than Lederhosen.
The prices mentioned above are the cheapest options. You could easily spends 100s of Euros if you want fancier options.
Tip #2: Weekday > Weekend
We went to Oktoberfest on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Despite being a Weekday, the tents were pretty packed by 2:00 pm. After 5:00 pm, the tents are fully packed as people living in Muenchen come to Oktoberfest after work.
From my understanding from talking to people, if you come on the weekend, you need to line up early in the morning like 8:00 AM or earlier to ensure space at a non-reservation table.
If you have reservations, this discussion would be mute. With a group of 11 people, we were really happy that we came during the week. If we were a group of 2, we might have been able to squeeze in a table.
Tip #3: Making Reservations
If you want an assigned seat, it is advisable to book a reservation as early as possible. This is especially important if you want to come on a weekend.
We looked at reservations about 6 months prior to Oktoberfest, and we were only able to get a 11:00 AM reservation at Hofrbrauhaus.
Tip #4: No Reservations – Get there between 4:00 and 5:00 PM (Weekdays)
Since drinking for 12 hours (i.e., 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM) is a challenge, most people will only attend 1 of the 2 sessions. The preferable session to attend is the evening session.
We found that the best time to get there is between 4:00 -5:00 PM to get a seat in the Non-Reservation section. This is the best opportunity to get a seat as many people exhausted from the first session start to leave. In addition all of the people with the reservations have to leave to make way for the second group. This creates the most opportunity to get a seat at a non-reservation section.
Tip #5: Don’t Forget to Eat
It is easy to get swept up into the atmosphere and forget to eat. Keep eating! The half-chicken and pretzels are amazing.
Tip #6: Marathon and Not a Sprint
Whether you are drinking for 12 hours (impressive) or 6 hours, it is best to remember that it is a marathon and not a spring. The beers are 1 liter and 6%. After 3 beers, you will be very buzzed.
For those looking to take it a little easier, there is also Radler (aka Shandy), which is half beer and half lemonade. This is a good choice if you want to slow it down a bit.
Tip #7: Be prepared to lose anything that you bring with you! (i.e., Sweatshirts/Jackets)
Out of 11 of us, three of us left our sweatshirt/jackets at one of the tents after 12 hours of drinking. My advice is to put on any loose clothing after a couple of hours or leave it at the hotel. The tents are warm, and you typically have a “liquid jacket” after a day of drinking.
Tip #8: Keep business card from Hotel
After a full night of drinking, there is a chance that you might not remember the name of your hotel or even your own name. It is best to bring the business card of the hotel in case you get lost.
Tip #9: Remember the Carnival Rides!
Most of the time is often spent in the different beer tents. However, Oktoberfest is a huge carnival. There are a large number of carnival rides spread across the grounds. If you have a family and want to put down the beer glass, I recommend getting out there and going on the different rides.
Tip #10: Explore Munich!
At a minimum, you should explore Marienplatz and see the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. You can grab lunch at Augistiner Keller Muenchen and get some good authentic food.
If you have more time, head out to Neuschwanstein Castle (located just outside Munich) on a day trip.