Oktoberfest Survival Guide
Stars and Stripes August 31, 2023
Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the world. It brings thousands of people together in celebration of… a wedding. In 1810 the event was held to mark the wedding of Bavarian crown prince Ludwig I to princess Therese from Thuringia. Nowadays, beer is the center of attention. Over two weeks you’ll find massive tents full of songs and beer, plus parades, carnival rides and food. Most events take place at the Theresienwiese, or Therese’s Meadow, often shortened to Wiesn or just “the meadow.”
“Munich Oktoberfest 2023: Sept. 16 – Oct. 3”
What to expect
In the Wiesn are 17 big beer tents, each with a different atmosphere. The Schottenhamel is where the first beer of the season is poured. The Ochsenbraterie prides itself in honoring each ox grilled on the huge rotisserie. The Armbrustschützenzelt was founded by the crossbow guild and still has shooting competitions. There are also 21 small tents that tend to be more orderly and themed around foods like Alpine cheese or wild game.
Tables inside the tents are shared, so get to know the people sitting next to you. At a table there will be a server to take your drink (or food) orders. For those without a seat, there are lines at booth windows for ordering. Beer is only served in a one-liter mass, not a stein. The camaraderie is often focused on drinking songs and cheers, and “Ein Prosit” is a great one to learn. Locals typically attend on weekdays as it is less crowded than weekends.
Munich’s Oktoberfest is world-renowned but try one of these alternatives and you may come away with a more authentically local experience.
1. Cannstatter Volksfest, Stuttgart. Sept. 22 – Oct. 8, 2023.
This is another enormous event that combines a fair with markets, parades, shows, and eight beer tents to choose from. www.cannstatter-volksfest.de/en
2. Vienna Oktoberfest. Sept. 21 – Oct. 8, 2023.
Austria’s biggest beer festival is known for its long lineup of modern folk bands that play on the outdoor stage, plus three big beer tents. www.kaiserwiesn.at
3. Züri Wiesn, Switzerland. Sept. 21 – Oct. 14, 2023.
Reservations are a must at this beer festival held at main hall of the Zurich train station. www.zueri-wiesn.ch
4. Frankfurter Oktoberfest. Sept. 6 – Oct. 8, 2023.
Your entry fee includes drink credits and table seats at this huge fest hall south of the city. www.frankfurter-oktoberfest.de
5. Spreewiesn, Berlin. Sept. 15 - Oct. 28, 2023
Berlin’s Oktoberfest is setup in a tent adjacent to the eastern painted section of the Berlin Wall and features traditional weekends and themed weekday nights. www.spreewiesn-berlin.de