I was first exposed to Germany’s Oktoberfest culture when I was eight years old. During a whirlwind trip to Munich, my parents’ German friends whisked us away to what seemed like every famous city landmark.
First, there was Munich’s Rathaus (city hall), where we watched the Glockenspiel figurines on the intricate tower twirl upon the hour. We then headed to the splendid two-domed church called the Frauenkirche. And since a visit to Munich is not complete without stopping by the famous Hofbräuhaus, we ventured there for a hearty meal as well. Once inside the legendary brewery, which dates back to 1589, I recall hearing polka music emanating from shiny brass instruments. Committing a German faux pas, we upset a Lederhosen-clad local when we mistakenly sat at his Stammtisch (a table reserved for regulars).
Aside from those Hofbräuhaus happenings, I vividly remember anonymous adults getting sick on the cobbled streets outside the brewery.
“What’s wrong with them?” I asked my mother, with great concern. “Are those men okay?”
I don’t recall how she responded, but let’s just say that during this moment, I had officially been introduced to German’s fest season.
Now that autumn is in full swing, I find myself missing the lively festivals I once enjoyed in Germany. From the Heidelberg Herbst (which I attended nearly ten times since I lived in Heidelberg for a decade) to the Bad Dürkheim Weinfest, and the granddaddy of them all – Oktoberfest, fall is a fun time to be in Germany.
Though Oktoberfest is soon drawing to a close, I thought I would pay tribute to Oktoberfests past with images that showcase pretty Dirndls fit for a wine princess and Lederhosen befitting the most traditional of German men.
Other ubiquitous Oktoberfest elements pictured here are Brotzeit sessions and waitresses fine-tuning their biceps by carrying massive glass mugs. Each of these glasses contain one liter of beer; they are known in German as ein Maß. Mammoth pretzels and Lebkuchen hearts with sugary-sweet messages also make regular appearances at Oktoberfest.
If you cannot make it to the world’s biggest fair this year – which has been held in Munich since 1810 – Oktoberfest will take place again next year starting in September and ending in October.
So, start shopping for the perfect Dirndl or Lederhosen now. Begin learning the lyrics to some catchy beer-drinking tunes. And finally, reserve your fest table well in advance.
Where in the World?
- Oktoberfest runs from the middle or end of September until the first weekend in October – for 16-18 days! Approximately 35 temporary tents are set up on Munich’s Theresienwiese. Locals might refer to these fairgrounds as Wies’n. Munich’s official website features upcoming Oktoberfest dates, beer tent whereabouts, a schedule of events, and more.
- The city of Munich publishes Munich public transit timetables and maps here, and Germany-wide train tickets and schedules are available on the Deutsche Bahn website.
- Because of Oktoberfest’s popularity, accommodation tends to be limited or expensive. The first two times I went, I stayed at a friend’s apartment. For my third Oktoberfest, Shawn and I went to Oktoberfest for a day trip, then made it to the picturesque town of Oberammergau in time for dinner. It’s famous for its frescoed homes, and for hosting the Passion Play every ten years. We spent two nights at the Gästehaus Hildegard (affiliate link). We found the beds to be comfortable there, the owners were helpful and kind, and the breakfast offered a lot of variety. The guest house is centrally located in Oberammergau too, and it’s not far from the Tiroler Gasse bus stop. The train station is also only about 1 km away.
- Are you exploring Bavaria for a few days? I’ve also written about visiting the storybook Neuschwanstein Castle, riding an alpine coaster through the foothills of the Alps, watching knee-slapping dancers in the village of Oberammergau, and stopping by King Ludwig’s Linderhof Palace. My Germany page also indexes all my posts from Germany.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.