Ironically, the Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany is not in October, but September. Don’t be fooled, though, time flies and with six-million visitors annually, accommodation, tickets and most importantly, beer tent tables, sell like hot cakes.
This year, Oktoberfest will be taking place from 22 September to 7 October – it’s a non-stop beer and food shovelling meeting of millions. The Oktoberfest, or Wiesn, is a 16-day fest to celebrate traditional Bavarian beer. Almost seven million litres of beer is served during the festival and only beer conforming to the Reinheitsgebot, at a minimum of 12.5% Stammwürze (approximately 6% alcohol) may be served. The beer must also be brewed within the city limits of Munich. And there is plenty to go around. Not to mention the local cuisine, like Schweinebraten (roast pork), Würstl (sausages), Brezn (Pretzel), and, naturally, Sauerkraut or Rotkohl (red cabbage).
Even though the Oktoberfest organisers have fine-tuned the 16-day booze bonanza, there are certain must-dos before you jet off. Book your accommodation as soon as you have your flight number. Munich offers a wide range of hotels, backpackers, hostels, guesthouses and holiday apartments to suit every budget. Choose a hotel close to the central station – the subway is affordable and runs like clockwork whereas cabs will cost you valuable beer money.
Highly recommended hotels include Hotel Torbräu, Inter City Hotel München and Art Hotel Munich – all within walking distance of the station and Marienplatz Square where a lot of the action will be taking place.
Now that you have your accommodation and transport sorted, it’s time to secure your drinking spot. A word of advice: book in advance! There are more than 30 beer tents, each representing a different region and brewery. Officially, tables have to be booked at least an hour in advance. Unofficially, book the tent before you board the plane. Some of the popular tents include Schottenhammel Tent, Hofbräu Beer Tent and if you’re more of a wine connoisseur, consider the Weinzelt or The Wine Tent.
Reservation requirements vary from tent to tent – make sure you know what you’re paying for. For instance, many beer tents require a minimum of 10 people for one table. The reservation will be free-of-charge, but you have to purchase food and drink coupons in advance. Expect to pay between 20 and 80 Euro per person – depending on the tent and time of day.
If you don’t have a reserved table, expect to pay around 8 Euro per liter of beer. Beer guzzling tip: take cash, tents don’t accept credit cards. Wear comfortable gear and familiarise yourself with the festival grounds. The Munich Guide App is very useful for on-the-spot help and tips. For more information on Oktoberfest 2012, visit the Oktoberfest Facebook Page.