Contrary to popular belief, Oktoberfest isn’t in October, it spans from mid-September with the grand finale taking place on the first weekend in October. The world-famous festival deserves its notoriety: more sauerkraut, weisswurst and German beer than you can shake your shake your lederhosen at. Here’s the lowdown on Oktoberfest 2017; book last minute flights or start planning for 2018.
In October 1810, the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The royal wedding was marked with week-long celebrations, which started on October 12th and finished on the 17th. The couple’s anniversary was marked every year from then, with the festivities starting earlier and earlier each year until, eventually, they commenced in September. This brought with it longer, warmer nights and more opportunity for beer connoisseurs from around the world to enjoy the many delights of German food and drink. Many locals refer to the festival as “die Weisn” because it takes place in Theresienwiese, after Princess Therese; you will notice that some of the tents feature the word “Weisn”, too.
Oktoberfest is much more than a beer-drinking party! It is a celebration of old Bavarian traditions and, as such, its programme is full and varied. Of course, there is plenty of time for beer drinking too; it would be rude not to! There is a traditional costume parade, which takes place on the first Sunday of the festival, outdoor concerts and family days, where rides and exhibits cost less. The festival is rounded up with the closing ceremony, which includes a traditional gun-salute on the steps of the Bavaria Monument.
The festival grounds are vast, covering more than 34 hectares, and with 545 stalls and vendors. The festival employs around 13,000 people, all of whom do their best to make sure the festival runs with the precision for which Germans are renowned. The fairground for 2017 will feature long-standing favourites, as well as half a dozen new rides, including white-knuckle rides such as “Voodoo Jumper” and more sedate rides such as the “Marchenlandexpress”, a fairytale chairoplane ride.
This year, Oktoberfest-ers will have a broad selection of beer tents to choose from. Ranging from Schitzen-Festzelt, where you can whet your appetite on warm potato salad and cold beer, to Wiesn Guglhupf, a café which hands itself over to the festival for 2 weeks of the year, and Schottenhamel, where the opening ceremony will be hosted, the tents are numerous and varied, so make sure you make time to have a beer in each one!
The Opening Ceremony
The Opening Ceremony for Oktoberfest 2017 will take place on the 16th September in the Schottenhamel Tent. At midday, Munich’s mayor will tap the first keg of beer; only then will festival goers be able to quench their thirst. If you want to get in on the action for the opening ceremony, head to the tent early; the keener visitors arrive before 9 a.m. to make sure they can grab a good spot.
On Opening Day, the beer tents will serve from 12 noon until 22.30 p.m., from then on beer will be served 10.00 a.m. – 22.30 p.m. on weekdays and 9.00 a.m. – 22.30 p.m. on weekends. The Kafers Wiesnschanke and Weinzelt tents close at 12.30 a.m. and 1.00 a.m. respectively, for the late-night drinkers. Beers will cost less than 11 euros for a litre in 2017; typically prices rise by a couple of percent each year.
Stalls, sideshows and attractions are open 12 noon until midnight on Opening Day, 10.00 a.m. – 23.30 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 10.00 a.m. – midnight on Fridays, 9.00 a.m. – midnight on Saturdays and 9.00 a.m. – 23.30 p.m. on Sundays.
You don’t need to buy tickets for Oktoberfest, but if you particularly want to go to a specific beer tent, it is worth reserving a place; the beer tents fill up quickly and are often closed by midday as they have reached capacity. You can find out more about the tents and how to make reservations here. Families are welcome, but come the evening, the beer tents aren’t appropriate places for children. Children under 6 aren’t allowed within the tents after 20.00 p.m., even if they are accompanied by an adult; older children are allowed at the discretion, and under the supervision, of their accompanying adults.
Oktoberfest 2018 will take place from 22nd September – 7th October 2018. Don’t miss out, find great deals on flights to Munich here.