7 Pointers To Maximize Your Oktoberfest Experience

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


Every year in late September, millions of people trek to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest to drink beer, sing (shout) to German music and have a grand old time. In 2017, I was able to be one of those millions of people. I went with an excellent group who dressed up and allowed themselves to be present and we had a blast. If you have your group and you have your dates, there are just a few things you need to take care of.

I don't want to say extensive research is necessary but we are talking about a 200-year-old traditional festival. There are some rules to be aware of. I encourage you to explore my "mini-guide" to Oktoberfest as well as looking at some others. 

If you think you can keep up with the German’s at their own game... 

Please bear with me, as there is A LOT to know for Oktoberfest. I'd rather you be over prepared than under.

Start Lifting ASAP.

I didn’t know I bought a ticket to the gun show for Oktoberfest. I physically got a bruise on my hand from lifting my liter glass all day. When I sit down and think about my time in the tents, all I’m doing is talking, lift, cheers-ing, drinking, and slamming my glass down. You have to have a beer in your hand constantly; otherwise, they will kick you out, so that process is on repeat until you leave. It is impressive how the waiters can carry pyramids of those suckers all around the tents. Who knew 8 hours of drinking could be so defining?

Get to the tents early.

If you don’t follow any of the other tips, follow this. If you don’t get to the tent early you won’t be seated, and if you’re not seated you can't drink because the waiters cannot serve you if they don't have a place to serve. You feel me? The tents don’t even open until 10:00 a.m. and my group and I were at the entrance of the tent by 8:00 a.m. By the time we were seated, maybe about 5 minutes later the entire tent was at capacity. It is like Black Friday unleashing in New York at Best Buy, without the trampling, though. They are quite courteous in Germany. If you go on a weekend (we went on Saturday), expect to stay in that tent for the remainder of the day. Explore the festival grounds and take bathroom breaks in shifts so you always can come back to seat without missing any of the fun!

Learn the language basics.

‘Bier'- Beer… hardly needs translating

‘Prost’- A common phrase you will hear with the clinging of glasses immediately after it. Yep, Prost is their toast word. Kind of like how we say cheers, you shout “Prost!” Cling your glasses together and drink.

'Brezel'- Pretzel. YUMMY!

‘Zum Wohl’ - Another trendy phrase you will hear with a toast. It means 'To your health.’

Sing along to the famous songs. Each tent will play a different type of music, but ultimately they will ALL play Ein Prosit (I Salute You) and So Ein Schoener Tag (Fliegerlied).

Practice chugging a liter of beer (optional)

This is not a requirement by any means, but a lot of the attendees will order a beer, stand up on the table, and attempt to chug the ENTIRE liter of beer. I say attempt because not everyone succeeds. Trust me. You do not want to try this unless you are confident you can finish. Everyone watches the suckers and champions who attempt this great task, and you will be applauded accordingly. Germans are ruthless and will boo you off the table in front of the entire tent. You cannot redeem yourself, but if you succeed you are rewarded and have gained the respect of the whole tent. What other country do you know that specializes in downing a pitcher of beer again and again?

Dress the part.

‘Dirndl'- Traditional dress for women and usually consists of bodice, blouse, skirt, and apron

DO NOT go to the Halloween store and purchase the costume version of this. You will be judged by the Germans and anyone who has done any extent of research on Oktoberfest. Buy one that is at least knee length. I got mine on Amazon for about $50 the week before I left. Buy yours early for better deals and to get the color you want! They only had orange left when I bought mine. 

*** There is a tradition about how you tie the ribbon on your Dirndl. Right is for taken, left is for single, center is for virgin, and back is for a widow.***

Lederhosen- Traditional dress for men and usually consists of a white shirt, leather trousers, knee-length socks, and special shoes. The gentlemen we went with and were sitting next to were wearing modified versions so just the shirt normally but not the whole ensemble. Seemed to be okay. No one picked on them at least haha.

Go Local

I highly recommend staying away from the tourist tents. Each tent offers a different beer and theme. Hofbrau is more of an American tent and plays more American music. That’s all fine and dandy, but I think you will get more of a traditional experience if you park yourself in the local tents. We spent our time in the Hacker-Festzelt tent. It was an EXTREMELY German tent where they played polka music and had mostly Oktoberfest veterans in there.  

You can easily look this up on the Internet, so I recommend you do a little bit of research before heading out. Otherwise, save this infographic for quick facts and stats.

Surprise Yourself

I went into this thinking I was going for the experience itself, but I NEVER expected to enjoy the beer and myself as much as I did. I felt I got the whole experience. You would be surprised at how much you can drink and how much there is to go beyond the tents. The beer in Germany is made fresh and is WAY less carbonated. The average beer avoider would probably be pleased with the taste, and the average beer drinker will probably be surprised by how much they can consume. The beer in Germany is so fresh any non-beer drinker could survive. Beyond the tents, there is a whole ground of festivities. There are carnival rides, food stands, gift shops, and games. You will not be bored while exploring this 200-year-old tradition.


  • Don't rule out hotel stays. Some are expensive, but some are incredibly reasonable in pricing. Airbnb and hostels are also outstanding options.
  • Walk to the festival grounds. Try to stay within walking distance of Oktoberfest. Cars and trains get dicey especially when there is a mob of people running towards the gate.

I could write and write and write every tip I could think of, but at the end of the day, this is your own experience. Go with an open mind and don't be upset if you don't get to do everything, but also try to do nothing. Sit back, drink some German beer, eat a brezel, chat with the locals and listen to some oompah music. 

Have any other tips or questions? List them below! Share this article with friends and family that have ever considered the idea of attending Oktoberfest. It might just entice them enough.

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