Oktoberfest: The Essential Guide

Oktoberfest: The Essential Guide

View of Oktoberfest in action, packed with hundreds of people visiting the attractions

Are you going to Oktoberfest in Munich this year? Or do you want to learn more about the world’s largest beer festival so you can plan to go in the future? From the best beer and Bavarian costumes to alternative activities, here’s the essential information you need to know about Oktoberfest.

If you are flying to Munich from Birmingham Airport, check out our useful travel tips to ensure a smooth journey. Driving to the airport? Car Parks 1, 2 & 3 are most convenient – just a 2-minute walk from the terminal building. Pre-book online to save up to 70% and guarantee a space.

 Man serving three big beers at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest (or Weisn as the locals call it) is the world’s largest beer festival, which famously takes place in enormous tents. There are 14 main tents, each able to fit around 5,000-11,00 people and all boasting a unique atmosphere.

What began as a wedding celebration over 200 years ago is now a worldwide phenomenon celebrating Bavarian culture with flowing pints of beer.

When Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810, the wedding was celebrated with multiple days of drinking, feasting and horse races. The celebration then became an annual event now known as Oktoberfest.

Essential information

People enjoying the big swing at Oktoberfest

What do you do at Oktoberfest? Try some beer. The only beer served comes from Munich breweries such as the Augustiner, Paulaner, and Spaten. The most popular variation is the lager-like Helles. There are no half measures here. Beer is served in one-litre glasses (ein Maß), several of which are typically carried at one time by costumed barmaids. 

But it’s not all beer drinking! Most know Oktoberfest as a beer-drinking festival, and yes, thousands of litres of beer are consumed during the festival. However, traditions go much further than that. While the beer tents provide drinks, they also play traditional Barvarian music. Plus, the 16-day festival features games, amusement rides, and a traditional Bavarian fair.

If you’re less interested in drinking, you may want to coincide your trip with some of the special events that take place. On the opening weekend, the Costume and Riflemen’s Parade sees some 7,000 costumed performers and musicians, thoroughbred horses, oxen, and associated farmyard animals walk through the centre of Munich. If you’re lucky with the weather, an open-air concert featuring 400 musicians also takes place.

To experience an authentic Oktoberfest celebration, you’ll want to sample the traditional hearty food on offer. Stuff yourself silly with smoked sausages, roasted meats, sauerkraut, pretzels, and dumplings.


Yellow ferris wheel at Oktoberfest

Where is Oktoberfest? The official Oktoberfest festival is held in Munich, Germany. It’s located on the original meadow where the wedding took place all those years ago.

Pretzel with salt on top

How to get to Oktoberfest? If you’re travelling from the UK, Lufthansa fly direct from Birmingham Airport to Munich. The festival, held on Thereienwiese field, is easily accessible from the city centre. It is perfectly walkable from the central railway station, Heuptbahnhof, or you can take the U-Bahn to Theresienwiese.  

Socks of band players in Oktoberfest

What to wear at Oktoberfest? Most people attending Oktoberfest choose to dress in traditional Bavarian attire, the men wear lederhosen, and the ladies wear dirndls. Oktoberfest brings back the traditional attire 16th and 17th-century locals were wearing while going about their daily business. You don’t have to dress up, but all the locals do, and it will help you get into the Bavarian spirit! If you want to join in on the fun, there are several shops in town specialising in the traditional costume.

Blue and white cookie

When is Oktoberfest 2019? Oktoberfest 2019 is September 21 – October 06.

Families at Oktoberfest

Band playing music at Oktoberfest

Yes, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival, but that doesn’t mean families can’t enjoy themselves too. You may be surprised to hear that Oktoberfest has official family days: Tuesdays until 7pm.

During ‘Family Day’, attractions and rides are discounted for children and families. Whether it’s a ride on the Ferris wheel, a round on the shooting range, or a bag of roasted almonds, many of the activities and food stalls offer reductions encouraging the whole family to have fun.

And even if you’re not visiting on a Tuesday, you will still find plenty of child-friendly activities on offer. Das Familienplatzl is a special tent for families with facilities, entertainment, activities, and food suitable for smaller children. Meals and snacks are served in children’s portions and at family prices, and you can even bring your own food to the beer garden and heat it up in the microwave onsite.

If you’re attending Oktoberfest with your children,  check out our guide to travelling with kids for our top tips on getting through the airport seamlessly.

Munich 2

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