When to go
Despite its name, Oktoberfest begins on the second to last Saturday in September and lasts 3 weeks. 2020 has been canceled due to Covid-19 so the next one is in 2021.
Oktoberfest 2021: September 18 – October 3
The official kickoff is when The Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first keg at noon on that Saturday. Lines start forming in the early morning and doors to the event grounds open at 9:00 when thousands of people very literally run to the tents to claim their territory. Do not be afraid to use your elbows when claiming space. Make sure you and everybody in your group knows which tent you’re going to and where the tent is. You then have three more hours to wait until the beer starts flowing. Bring cards
Necessary experience? Probably not. But the crowds and the rest of opening weekend are part of what makes the experience so much fun. If you show up later in the day you can avoid waiting so long and probably be able to find an empty space. That being said, it isn’t advisable to do a lot of tent hopping, especially if you’re in a larger group.
This weekend also features the Opening Day parade as well as a Traditional Costume parade and what has become known as Gay Sunday in the Pschorr-Bräurosl tent.
Throughout Oktoberfest nights and weekends are the busiest times. Closing ceremonies happen on the last weekend.
Opening Day: 12:00 – 22:30
Weekdays: 10:00 – 22.30
Weekends & Holidays: 9:00 – 22:30
What to wear
You can wear street clothes if you want, but if you’ve come this far, why not go all the way? Most people are decked out in traditional Bavarian clothes. For men that would be Lederhosen and for women a Dirndl.
The locals take it very seriously and both have authentic clothing and are able to tell when you don’t. That being said, nobody minds if you’ve got a slightly cheaper version. Everyone is here to have a good time.
You can find online and on Amazon easily. Some prefer to go straight to the source for the most authentic.
For more info check out How to Dress & Eat like a Local at Oktoberfest
What to do
Here is a super helpful List of Oktoberfest Beer Tents available to help you decide which ones to visit.
You’ll see that in addition to beer tents there is also an entire carnival with rides, games and food stalls.
The city of Munich has a lot to offer in addition to Oktoberfest. Make sure to check out the city and the surrounding area as well.
Where to stay
While it’s not necessary to stay near the grounds it is undoubtedly more convenient. Prices will skyrocket during this time of year. Sometimes splitting a hotel room can be cheaper than getting dorms in a hostel. It is easy to get around the city so it’s really not a big deal to stay farther away.
If you’re looking for hostel The 4 You Hostel and Hotel has nice facilities, really good free breakfast, great vibe, EXCELLENT location and some of the cheapest prices I could find.
For additional information on where to stay in the city check out my Munich post.
- 2-3 days is enough to spend at the tents. It is so much fun but utterly exhausting and gets expensive.
- You do NOT need a ticket or a reservation to go, just accomodation and transportation should be set up beforehand.
- Food can be bought in tents (the most expensive) and around the grounds. Your cheapest options are outside the grounds
- If beer isn’t your thing wine is also available upon request in some tents
- Make friends! But don’t forget them. If anyone knows who the guy in this picture is please let me know. I have no memory of him but he appear on my camera roll and I think I might love him.
- You will spend a lot of money. Accept it and move on. Bring cash (euros) and make sure you have small bills and coins
- If you can avoid it, do not bring a bag. They will make you check them. I brought my fanny pack so I never had to take it off or set it down and only carried enough cash for that day. This also helps you not exceed your beer limit.
- Take a break. They have nap spots on the event grounds where you can just hang out on a hill and take a nap. If napping kills your vibe then make sure you at least take a little break between some beers. I always took a two hour break between beer 2 and three and it was both a life and money saver.
- Tip. Tipping both your server and your bathroom attendants. The bathrooms are amazingly clean and they do a fantastic job. As for your server, they work extremely hard and deserve the tip, but they will also notice and your beer might arrive much faster than it would otherwise. €1 for bathroom attendants and €1-€2 for your servers.