The 2015 Oktoberfest is just days away and millions of people from around the world are expected to descend onto the lovely Bavarian city of Munich. Held almost every year since 1810, the festive event is the world’s largest beer festival, best known for its enormous beer tents and Bavarian brass bands. If you’re headed to the Oktoberfest this year, here’s some practical information to help you enjoy all of the lively activities and recommendations for overnight lodging for last minute reservations.
Brief History Of The Oktoberfest
The first Oktoberfest took place on Oct. 12, 1810 as a public celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The festivities were held on public fields outside the gates of Munich, then known as the capital of Bavaria, and attended by tens of thousands of people. The public fields were subsequently named Theresienwiese (Therese’s fields) in honor of the crown princess. The following year, the event added an agricultural show, which is still part of the modern-day Oktoberfest. Today, the Oktoberfest, which showcases Bavarian culture, is the largest folk festival in the world, drawing more than six million visitors.
Dates: Saturday, Sept. 19 – Sunday, Oct. 4
How To Get To The Oktoberfest
The Okotoberfest is located in the Theresienwiese, the 4.4-million-square-foot open space located southwest of Munich’s city center. The easiest way to get to the Oktoberfest is with public transportation, especially since officials from the Oktoberfest say there is almost no parking available.
For visitors who insist on driving to Oktoberfest, they can expect heavy traffic in the immediate area around the enormous festival, including taxis. Oktoberfest officials recommend motorists park their vehicles at a park and ride lot, then take the U-Bahn to the beer festival.
By Public Transportation
U-Bahn routes U4 and U5 provide direct service to the Theresienwiese subway station from the Central Train Station (Hauptbahhof). The Theresienwiese subway station is the very next stop after leaving the train station. Trains run every few minutes and regular fare for a single ride is 1.40€. Alternatively, travelers can walk to the Oktoberfest from the train station about a half-mile away.
Vistors staying near the Marienplatz can take S-Bahn routes S1, S2, S3, S6 and S8 to the central train station and transfer to U4 at U5 to the Oktoberfest. Additional information on Munich’s public transportation system can be found by visiting mvv-muenchen.de.
There is no admission charge for either the Oktoberfest or the beer tents. Once beer tents are filled to capacity, no other visitors are allowed inside. Reservations for seating at any of the large beer tents must be made directly to the respective beer tents.
Prices are up slightly from last year’s Oktoberfest, with most under 10€for a liter of beer. This year, all beer labels are over 10 Euro, with the most expensive beer at 10.40€ for a liter of Bratwurst beer. The cheapest beer amongst major beer tents can be found at Augustiner-Festzelt, with a liter going for 10.10€.
There are 14 major beer tents and 21 smaller tents. The large beer tents all have a capacity of several thousand patrons and the largest, Schottenhamel, has a capacity of approximately 10,000. Among the most famous beer tents are Löwenbräu Festhalle, Hacker Festzelt, Augustiner Festhalle and Hofbräu Festzelt, the beer tent for arguably Germany’s most famous beer hall, Hofbräuhaus München. Last year, 6.9 million liters of beer were consumed by 6.4 million visitors to Oktoberfest. Visitors are advised not to take beer mugs from any of the tents and instead should purchase one from a vendor. Reservations must be made directly to any of the 14 big beer tents listed below.
- Don’t bring glass bottles into the Oktoberfest.
- Don’t bring valuables into the Oktoberfest
- Reservations for seating in any of the large tents are strongly recommended for large groups. However, in order to receive a reservation, a certain amount of beer and food must be purchased.
- Cash is preferred over credit cards for beer and food purchases
- Tip early and be friendly to the waitresses.
- No outside food is allowed inside the tents.
- Do not take the beer steins out of the tent. Security personnel will be checking for bags before leaving.
- No smoking is allowed inside any of the tents.
- It helps to speak and understand some German.
- Drink responsibly!
Major Oktoberfest Events
Brewer’s Parade – Sept. 19
The official festivities of Oktoberfest 2015 kick off with the Brewer’s Parade featuring big tent owners, horse-drawn beer carts and Bavarian marching bands. The parade begins at Marienplatz then proceeds down Schwanthalerstrasse on its way to the Oktoberfest.
Tapping Of The First Oktoberfest Beer Barrel – Sept. 19
The official tapping of the first beer barrel for Oktoberfest 2015 will be held in the Schottenhamel tent. Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, will perform the honors.
Costume Parade – Sept. 20
The traditional costumes parade will be held on the streets of Munich. The parade route begins on the tree-lined Maxmillianstrasse, near the banks of the Isa River. The parade then proceeds past Odeonplatz and Karlplatz before arriving at the Threseienwiese.
Oktoberfest Brass Band Concert – Sept. 27
All of the official Oktoberfest bands are expected to perform in front of the famed Bavaria Statue. Some 400 musicians will present many of the Bavaria’s most treasured songs.
Traditional Gun Salute – Oct. 4
A large group of riflemen dressed in traditional Bavarian garb will present a gun salute on the steps of the Bavaria Statue. The performance will held at noon on the last day of the Oktoberfest.
Where To Stay In Munich
Reservations for overnight accommodations should have been made well in advance of the Oktoberfest. Hotel occupancy during the world’s largest beer festival is expected to be nearly 90 percent or more and many hotels may have sold out. For last minute suggestions, the following are 20 of the top-rated hotels in Munich, ranging from low cost hostels to super pricey luxury hotels, in addition to one campground for backpackers.