Tomorrow at 12pm Oberbürgermeister (Lord Mayor) Dieter Reiter will mark the official begin of München’s most renowned annual event as he taps the first keg of Oktoberfest Bier in the Schottenhamel Bier tent, follows this with an “O’zapft’ is” and a good swig of his Maß.
Once tapped, the 13 other tents can begin to serve the München-brewed Bier to their thirsty guests.
For the next two weeks to follow, the sights and smells of the Oktoberfest will be ever-present throughout the city; throngs of tourists crowd the main train stations and the city centre, Tracht will be worn from dawn to dusk and the streets will buzz with groups of extra jolly, sometimes sweaty and most often tipsy, red-cheeked revellers.
But this is Oktoberfest. München, like every other year, will put on a good show; the bavarian sky will shine its white-blue, the münchener breweries will draught millions of litres of beer (hoping to beat the 6.7 million litres in 2013), and no one will forget the headache München gave them as they put down their last Maß on October 5th.
This year will be my third year embracing the Wiesn festivities (named so as it is held on the Therisienwiese) and while I’m no match in a Maß-drinking competition (although I have set my own PB), I’ve managed to figure out how to enjoy the Oktoberfest without losing a set of dentures at the end of the night.
For any Wiesn newbies – here are my Oktoberfest Do’s and Dont’s:
- Wear your Dirndl or Lederhosen with pride.
- For the ladies: tie the bow on your schutz (apron worn on the Dirndl) according to tradition. Tied to the left shows you’re single, tied to the right shows you’re married and tied in the middle lets everyone know you’re open (or “its complicated if you speak Facebook). Warning: whichever way you tie may not prevent any unwanted forms of affection from strangers throughout the night.
- Plan your route home before you arrive. Write down your route and your address – no one likes to wake up to find themselves in the middle of no where. Yes, it happens.
- Expect to look just as every bit embarrassing as everyone else does at the end of the day.
- If you plan to celebrate within one of the 14 Bier tents, learn a few words to some of the favourite Oktoberfest Schlager hits:
- Schatzi schenk mir ein Foto
- So a schöner Tag
- Joana (Du geile Sau)
- I sing a Liad für di
- Hoch die Tassen
- Cowboy und Indianer
- Knowing this song, is an absolute must: Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit
- Know what Bier you are ordering: a Maß is 1 litre, and the choice between bavarian Bier includes the Weißbier (or Hefeweizen), Helles, Starkbier (or Bockbier), Dunkles (i.e. dark) and Pils (or Pilsener). For the lightweights, a Radler (Bier mixed with lemonade) is often the way to go. The following article (in German) is a good reference for understanding the differences.
- Expect at least one Maß to be poured on you throughout the day. It won’t stain but will rather leave you with a pleasant scent.
- Also expect to either fall off a Bierbank (bench) or have someone fall on you. Signal with an ‘Alles Klar’ that its all good.
- Respect the waitresses. These ladies can carry up to 15 Maß at once.
- Have cash on you, withdraw it before you arrive. As most important things (Bier, Hendl) cost just under €10 within a tent, carry around €10 notes – leaving enough to tip the waitstaff without messing around with loose change.
- Enjoy some Wiesn-fare to line the stomach; a juicy Hendl (rotisserie chicken), a sauerbraten semmel (braised beef in a bread roll), a ‘riesen’ Breze (giant Breze) and a Brotzeit Teller (the bavarian tapas plate).
- Ride the Riesenrad – the view over Munich is spectacular.
- Embrace the public displays of affection shown by Wiesn-goers. We all know what effect a lot of Bier and a little happiness brings.
- Grab a bag of roasted nuts for the journey home. The sweet smell will have been teasing you all day.
- Expect a sweaty, roudy, loud and smelly ride home if using public transport.
- Don’t ask if a table is free in a tent – if no one is sitting there, take it.
- Ladies, don’t wear open-toed, strappy heels. The aim is to appear graceful as you dance on the Bierbank, regardless of how many drinks – there’s no need making it harder for yourself!
- Boys, if you want to make a good appearance – don’t wear a traditional shirt to match your lederhosen. These are usually dorky and shapeless. Unless that is the look you’re going for.
- Don’t bring a big jacket if you plan to spend some time within the tent. It is hot – people lose things when they drink. Anyway, München’s weather is always good throughout Oktoberfest that a jacket will not be necessary.
- Don’t dance on the table tops of the Bierbench. This makes the waitstaff a little angry.
- If the waitstaff ask if you want your photo taken, politely refuse. Once they present the photo to you alongside its over-inflated price tag, they will be annoyed you agreed to the photo when you don’t purchase it.
- Don’t expect to feel OK after partaking in a few rounds of a ‘who can drink a Maß the fastest’ competition. Knowing that Festbier (beer served at the Oktoberfest) has a higher alcohol content, this never ends pretty.
- Don’t even think about stealing a Maßkrug. Buy one at the souvenir shop.
- Steer away from the stomach-turning amusement rides after a few hours within the Bier tent. We all learnt this as teenagers.
- Don’t expect to meet your future wife or husband on the Wiesn. A bit of fun on the other hand…
- Don’t take a bite into a Lebkuchenherz without having made an appointment to the dentist beforehand.
- Don’t expect to catch a taxi home – they avoid the Wiesn like the plague.F
For the official Oktoberfest information – including maps and a schedule of events, head to the official website. For the Bier lovers, head to the Bier and Oktoberfestmuseum in München for a piece of München’s Bier history.
Auf gehts München!