If you ever have a chance to attend Oktoberfest, you’ll find that nothing else quite matches this experience. With an estimated 6 million visitors per year and over 200 years of rich Bavarian history, Oktoberfest is the most popular fair in the world. This year, the festival takes place from September 20th to October 5th. If you’re lucky enough to be in Germany during this time, there’s no way you can miss out on Oktoberfest.
Even though Oktoberfest is an amazing time to be in Munich, the city can be difficult to navigate for travelers during the festival time. You definitely need to have your research down before you arrive. Luckily, you have Oktoberfesthaus on your side to make the adventure easy! Below, we have prepared a travel guide to make your Oktoberfest experience as smooth and informed as possible. From airport tips to the must-see highlights of the festival, Oktoberfesthaus has your Oktoberfest trip covered.
First thing is first: we have to get you to the city center (where you’ll likely be staying) from the hectic Munich airport. Munich Airport (or Airport Franz-Josef-Strauss) is located about 30 miles north of Munich. To get to the city center, you can take the S1 or S8 train lines towards Munich. A one-way ticket from the airport will run a single traveler 11€. If you’re in a group, you can buy a group ticket for 20€. The group ticket allows up to 5 adults to travel together on the single ticket (up to 5 people for 20€!). Even if you only have two travelers, you still save money by taking the group ticket instead of 2 single traveler tickets. You can purchase these passes at the airport.
In order to find out what stop to get off at, you’ll want to consult your hotel. The S-Bahn train is the most common mode of transportation from the airport. Therefore, the hotels will already have prepared directions for you. The train runs every 10 minutes from 4:00 am until 1:30 am. Germany is one of the most punctual countries in Europe and they always leave on time.
Getting to the Festival
Oktoberfest is held at the Theresienwiese, which is an open space of 420,000 square meters. Theresienwiese is located southwest of the city center. The address is technically 80339 Munich, but it’s much easier to reach by train rather than GPS. Theresienwiese has its own train station on the Munich U-Bahn through both the U4 and U5 lines. The nearest S-Bahn train stations are Hackerbrucke or Munched Hauptbahnhof (Munich Central station), but your best bet is to transfer to the U line.
Theresienwiese Station – Image Courtesy of FloSch
What Are the Main Events of Oktoberfest?
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Oktoberfest is not a “beer festival.” While beer is an undeniably important staple, Oktoberfest is actually a folk festival celebrating the culture of Munich. Therefore, it is also geared towards families with fairground attractions, rides, live music, guided tours, and much more. Oktoberfest goes on for two weeks, so there are plenty of things to do in this time. Here are a few of the featured events.
Grand Entry of Oktoberfest Landlords and Breweries
One hour before the noon barrel-tap, there is a procession into Theresienwiese starting at 11:00 AM. The brewers, landlords, and waitresses lead this parade with decorated horse-drawn carriages. The last carriage holds the mayor of Munich. Once the mayor arrives at the square, he commences the Oktoberfest inauguration. Here is a map of the procession route (the green line). Note: This is not the “big” Oktoberfest parade (The Costume and Rifleman’s Parade). That takes place on the first Sunday of Oktoberfest. More on that parade is below.
Tapping of the First Oktoberfest Barrel
At 12:00 PM in the Schottenhamel Tent, the mayor of Munich enters immediately after the procession to tap the first Oktoberfest beer barrel. Once the first barrel is tapped, Oktoberfest has officially begun. Be there to witness the start of the world’s biggest festival!
Oktoberfest Costume and Rifleman’s Parade
On the first Sunday of Oktoberfest, the costume and Riflemen’s Procession takes the streets of Munich. This parade holds about 10,000 different performers and offers a stunning display of culture and customs rooted from Bavaria and Germany. At this parade, you’ll see historical troop uniforms, marching bands, riflemen, livestock, decorated floats, horse-drawn carriages, trumpeters, dancers, and much more. This parade starts at 10:00 AM on the first Sunday of Oktoberfest. It takes about three hours and follows the red route of this map.
Image Courtesy of Usien
Open Air Big Band Concert
On the second Sunday of Oktoberfest, there’s an annual concert on the steps of the Bavaria statue. Over 400 musicians take the stage to play traditional brass and Oktoberfest orchestral music. The concert begins at 11 AM.
The Best Oktoberfest Tents There are 14 large tents at Oktoberfest and even more small tents. Each tent is unique and offers different beer than the other tents. If you need help deciding which ones to visit, read Oktoberfesthaus’ article on the history of Oktoberfest. This article offers in-depth profiles on each tent so you can decide which one sounds the most interesting beforehand!
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What are the official hours of Oktoberfest?
Weekdays: 10:00 AM – 10:30 PM Weekends: 9:00 AM – 10:30 PM
When is the best time to go?
The weekends will be the most crowded, so popping in during the week will be more manageable and just as exciting.
Is Oktoberfest on the same date every year?
No, the next 3 Oktoberfests are held on the following dates: 2014: September 20 – October 5 2015: September 19 – October 4 2016: September 17 – October 3
Does Oktoberfest entry cost me anything?
No, entry to the area and all the beer tents is free. The beer and food is not free.
Are children allowed in the beer tents?
Children under the age of six must leave the tents by 8 pm. Otherwise, yes.
Is dressing up in Lederhosen or Dirndl mandatory?
Not at all, but it certainly makes it more fun. If you want to dress up, OktoberfestHaus has over
60 different costumes to choose from. Can I reserve a spot in a tent?
You certainly can. It’s even advisable. Some of these tents will have up to 10,000 people inside. If you reserve your spot, you won’t have the dilemma of finding space to sit (or even stand).
This is a pretty good starting point to get you situated for Oktoberfest. If you have any more questions about making a journey to Germany during Oktoberfest, please feel free to ask us via the comments section!