If you love beer, you've probably heard about Oktoberfest
before. Perhaps you've seen it portrayed in moves or on TV. Maybe you learned about it in a documentary about Germany. Or it's possible that you saw all the wild revelry on social media. However you discovered Oktoberfest, there's no doubt that it intrigued you. You likely want to go there yourself, don't you? But before you do, it pays to learn more about this iconic, centuries-long traditional festival. Know the event's history, its significance in German culture, and why people dress up in traditional clothes during the festival.
It All Started With A Wedding
With all the drinking and eating in Oktoberfest, it's hard to believe that this centuries-long tradition started with a wedding. On October 12, 1810, King Ludwig I married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. As it was the crown prince's nuptials, the celebrations went beyond the nobles and aristocracy. All of Munich was invited to take part in the festivities, which were held in the open fields just outside the city, which were eventually named “Theresienwiese” ('Theresa's Meadow' in honor of the bride). Hence, most locals also refer to Oktoberfest as “Wiesn” because of its location. It’s even become somewhat of a national holiday
for Bavaria back then.
The Pride of Munich
Although the royal wedding celebrations set the precedent of a grand event in Munich, Oktoberfest didn't become the beer-heavy festival it is today overnight. As the years went by, more and more activities were added to the event, ranging from carnivals and games to horseraces and sporting competitions. What has remained the same all throughout, however, is Munich's showcase of local Bavarian culture. The tradition of wearing trachten
(traditional Bavarian attire) to Oktoberfest actually began on the first edition of the festival. To celebrate the royal wedding, the entire city parades the stressed dressed in lederhosens
(for men) and dirndls
Tradition is Taken Seriously
The tradition of wearing trachten
in Oktoberfest has continued even to this day. Locals (and even Germans from Frankfurt
, Berlin, and other parts of the country) wear traditional attire when they go to the festival. It's not necessarily a requirement, but people do insist that everyone follow suit. And for foreigners who do want to dress up for Oktoberfest, know that the shops that sell lederhosens
the Weisn tend to be pricey. They offer the most authentic garments, sure, but you'll have to pay a lot to get them. Rest assured, however, that every cent is worth it!
The Festival is Free!
What most people would likely consider the best part about Oktoberfest is that it's free. Similar to how the people of Munich were all invited to take part in the royal wedding festivities back in 1810, everyone is welcome at Oktoberfest. You don't have to book tickets in advance and there's no entrance fee to pay. There is still security though, and if it's pretty tight. Just make sure you don't have any harmful objects with you when you enter so you don't get turned away from the festival.
All The Fun is Pricey!
Even though getting to Oktoberfest is free, the beer, food, rides, and more are not! Let's use the traditional garb, for example. If you want to dress up for Oktoberfest, expect to pay around €136.00 ($150.00) to €227.00 ($250.00) for their outfits. Beer commonly costs around €10.00 or over while full-blown meals tend to price higher than that. As such, it's still important to bring money when you go to Oktoberfest. Bring them in cash too, as the festival stalls rarely accept credit cards here. The vendors and service staff expect you to tip them too.
It's A Foodie Festival Too
At its core, Oktoberfest is the biggest and most famous Volksfest
in the world. For those who don't know, a Volksfest is a combination of a beer and wine festival in Germany. It's no surprise then that beer is the most famous part of the event. But let's not forget about food too! Oktoberfest is as much a foodie festival as it is a beer festival. They mostly serve traditional German and Bavarian cuisine, but you'll still see some foreign delicacies and fast food as well. Most notably, Oktoberfest has gone out of its way to be more organic in its food offerings in recent years.
Families are Welcome
A festival known for beer drinking doesn't exactly sound like a family-friendly event, does it? A great reason to plan a friend's trip, sure, but a for a family vacation? Well, you'd be surprised! Not a lot of people (outside of Germany, that is) realize that Oktoberfest is actually for the entire family. Remember that the event started out as a city-wide celebration of a royal wedding. That part of the tradition hasn't faded away. While the adults are drinking away in the more adult-oriented tents, the little ones can go on thrilling rides or play fun games instead.
The Party Doesn't Start Till 6!
Arguably a common misconception about Oktoberfest is that it's a party all day long, but that's not the case. This isn't Tomorrowland
or the Sziget Festival
. The beer may start to flow early in the day, but the actual party doesn't start till 6:00 (18:00) pm! Since 2005, the festival has developed a sort of 'quiet' Oktoberfest, wherein the only music playing during the day is brass music in each tent with a limit of only limited to 85 decibels. Only after 6 can pop, rock, EDM, and more take over the speakers, dialing the energy up to 100%!
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany is among the most iconic events in the world. This annual festival is a beloved tradition that invites the entire world to have the time of their lives! Who wouldn't want to be part of it?