Oktoberfest is the world’s largest, wildest beer festival. With robust Bavarian brews, unbeatable German chow, a massive carnival, and booming brass bands, it’s no wonder Oktoberfest draws millions of festival-goers each year. Think you’re ready to dance on table tops with fellow stein-slinging partiers while decked out in traditional German gear? Clueless what Oktoberfest has besides the beer? Here at Stoke we consider ourselves old experts after hosting Munich’s most popular Oktoberfest accommodations for over a decade and decided to compile the ABC’s of Okiefest so you’re ready to rumble when we see you this fall. Let’s kick it!
When is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest actually starts mid-September, which is why we have trust issues (the festival was pushed forward to take advantage of nicer weather, and so that the event could finish on the first Sunday of October – thereby coinciding with German Reunification Day, on October 3rd). The festival rages for anywhere between 14 and 16 gloriously lit days each year. This year, the festival kicks off on September 21st and wraps up on October 6th.
Where is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is now celebrated all over the world (because c’mon, who doesn’t love an excuse to skull beer, eat food, and be merry), but the official festival takes place in the heart of Munich, Germany at fairgrounds called Theresienwiese. If that’s too much of a mouthful, it’s also dubbed Weisn by the locals, which is much easier to lovingly slur a few steins deep.
History of Oktoberfest
Surprisingly, beer wasn’t flowing at the party that started the fest we know and love today. The OG Oktoberfest celebration happened when Bavaria’s Crowned Prince Ludwig I tied the knot with Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. Like any other royalty rolling in dough, they invited the entire region to party it up with them on the grounds where Oktoberfest is held now (the word Theresienwiese translates to Therese’s Meadow).
After a few wildly successful years of festivities, horseraces, and general revelry the city declared Oktoberfest to be an official annual event and they moved the dates to September so people could take advantage of the “better” weather. It’s taken 200 years for Oktoberfest to evolve into the riotous event it is now – the first beer wasn’t even sold in the iconic glass mugs until 82 years after Oktoberfest began!
Oktoberfest is loaded with traditions like the beer purity laws, clothes, or music, but there are tons of modern twists thrown in too. You’ll hear old-school oompah bands blasting everything from classic Ein Prosit to brassy covers of the Black-Eyed Peas.
One of the biggest traditions is the opening commencement of the festival. To kick it off, there’s the massive parade of the Wiesn landlords and breweries with over 1,000 participants including bands, flower-loaded carts, and the breweries’ draft-horse drawn floats. The mayor then officially launches the world’s greatest drinking marathon by tapping the first keg at 12:00pm sharp while shouting “o’zapft is!” aka “it’s tapped” aka the sweetest words to ever caress your fun-lovin’ ears.
What to wear to Oktoberfest?
Almost everyone at Oktoberfest wears traditional clothes called Tracht. They’re literally designed to make you look as hot as possible while you’re guzzling litre after litre of golden beer and stuffing your face with loads of German grub. I hate to break it to you, but they’re expensive – some locals will drop over €1,000 for the highest quality threads. It’s by no means mandatory to rock Tracht, but the whole shebang is heaps more fun if you do, and it’ll help you get into the Oktoberfest spirit. Plus, your insta story will be way more poppin’ if you look the part while cheersing your stein and noshing on a pretzel.
Fellas, the traditional choice for you is lederhosen, leather shorts with suspenders worn over a button-up shirt. Stoke has lederhosen for €90 at the campsite shop, which is basically as cheap and as easy as it comes.
Ladies, the traditional garb for you is a dirndl, alpine peasant-style dress with a blouse and an apron. Essentially the dirndl’s sole purpose is to push cleavage up to gravity-defying, eye-popping heights. To take the hassle out of dirndl shopping, you can snag one for €70 at Stoke’s campsite shop, and we guarantee you’ll look damn stunning.
Is Oktoberfest expensive?
Oktoberfest is not a thrifty affair. Basically everything within the fairground is pricey, but we wouldn’t be coming back year after year if it wasn’t worth every cent. Here’s a little breakdown of what you can expect for costs besides the logistical shit like transport and a place to crash.
How much are drinks at Oktoberfest?
The beer at Okiefest is liquid gold, and the price reflects it. At the beer halls, a litre will run you €11.50 on average. On top of that, it’s customary to tip the beer wenches a euro or two per stein, because hey, those ladies work for it! We here at Stoke understand ballin’ on a budget, so we’ve got you hooked up with unlimited sangria and German beer at the campsite for less than the cost of a single litre at the fest.
How much is food at Oktoberfest?
Much like the beer, food at Oktoberfest is steep but definitely worth it. Lunch will run you anywhere from €9-15, a big meal can run you up to €25, and we know you’ll want at least a couple pretzels because drunk cravings are all too real. Thankfully Stoke’s campsite has an in-house team of chefs who are ready to dish you up hearty breakfasts and dinners included in the cost of your stay so you can save some coins for more beer!
Other Oktoberfest expenses
RIDES! There’s nothing we love more than chasing beer tent shenanigans with an amusement park ride or five. Watch out though, the cost – around €10 a pop for roller coasters and other big rides – will catch up to you after you’ve stumbled in line for the sixth time.
Where to stay for Oktoberfest?
Typically one of the old, beloved, reliable options for travellers, hostels turn hectic during Oktoberfest. Benefit: you’ll meet a few other travellers who you can party with. Drawback: they’ll run you at least €55 a night at best, and can go as high as €300. No, you’re not tripping – it can be €300 for a single bed in a shared room. Our advice for Oktoberfest hostels: book early, and use Hostelworld to compare prices easy as pie.
If you somehow have treasure chests of doubloons to shell out a night for a semi-decent hotel room, then you’re going to want to book early if you want anything remotely close to the city center. Prices for hotel stays will be jacked up, so just think about all the beer you could drink in exchange for a lonely hotel room and cushy pillow!
An Airbnb is a decent option if you have a huge group of friends and aren’t looking to venture outside your circle. They’re also pretty expensive, running €150 a night and higher if you book early in the season. A major problem is that hosts can cancel on you if they get a better offer which can be frustrating, especially if it’s last minute and you have to scramble for new accommodations
Campsites are definitely not the Taj Mahal, but they’re certainly the most fun and economic option, two qualities that seldom overlap. Obviously of all the campgrounds in Munich, we at Stoke pride ourselves in being the raunchiest, rowdiest, biggest fest outside of the fairgrounds with thousands of revellers flocking to Stoketoberfest each year.
The bathroom situation may be a little grodie at times and it gets a bit chilly if you’re not primed for Germany’s weather, but gnar toilets seem like a small price to pay for wild parties with beautiful international travel freaks, live music, and alcohol flowing from morning to night.
Couchsurfing is the only free option unless you have an angelic, legendary friend in Munich willing to host you. Of course we love free stuff, but the chances that you’ll actually match up with a host is pretty slim considering they have mountains of requests.
On top of that, couchsurfing is about making a meaningful connection with another traveller, which is probably not that likely to happen considering most Oktoberfest attendees stumble home in a beer-induced delirium and crash on anything remotely more comfortable than gravel. Also, it would be kind of a shit move to chunder all over a lovely stranger’s bathroom when they’re letting you crash for €0.
Which beers do they have at Oktoberfest?
The beers at Oktoberfest are the sweet nectar of the party gods. They’re required to obey German purity laws, which means they only have four ingredients: hops, barley, yeast, and water. No artificial preservatives or additives! And fortunately, most of the beer has a 6% abv which makes the litres worth the price, especially since the beer goes down faster than your standards after a full day at the beer halls. On top of that, all the official Oktoberfest beers have to be brewed within the Munich city limits, which leaves six breweries repped at Oktoberfest:
- Augustiner-Bräu: Their most popular brew is Helles (5.2% abv), a light colored, sparkling, mild beer.
- Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu: Their Märzen beer (5.8% abv) is particularly malty, slow roasted and caramelized to a deep honey amber.
- Löwenbräu: Their Wiesnbier (6.1%) is literally translated as “meadow beer,” named after the festival grounds, and is known for its touch of spice and an herbal aroma.
- Paulaner: The most popular beer at Oktoberfest, Paulaner Oktoberfestbier (5.8%) is full bodied and has notes of toffee and fruit.
- Spatenbräu: Their Oktoberfestbier (5.9% abv) is full-bodied with a delicate sweetness, light taste of hops, and a gentle bitterness.
- Staatliches Hofbräu-München: Hofbräu’s Oktoberfestbier (6.3% abv) is mild and palatable with a sweet, light, tart fruit finish.
What to eat at Oktoberfest?
A classic rookie mistake is not eating enough while you’re drinking, which is almost an impressive feat to accomplish because the food at Oktoberfest is fucking heavenly. It’s the kind of chow that puts hair on your chest, makes you feel like a ferocious Germanic warrior, and equips you to guzzle brew after brew without batting an eyelash. Basically none of it’s good for you, but we don’t do Oktoberfest for our health.
Meat is the holy grail of Oktoberfest cuisine, and the tents are infamous for crispy pork knuckle served with a giant knife, golden roast chicken, and oxen cooked on a massive spit. On top of meat, gigantic salty soft pretzels are easily the most popular food, and for a reason: they’re cheap, delicious, and perfect for sopping up beer. For a full guide on food you’ve gotta knock back at Oktoberfest, check out this article.
How to get to Oktoberfest?
Flying to Oktoberfest:
If you’re trekking to Oktoberfest from across the globe or the far stretches of Europe, flying to Munich is probably necessary. Ticket prices to the Munich International Airport, which is 35 minutes from the heart of the city, get jacked up the closer it gets to the fest. To scope out the cheapest flights, Skyscanner is your best mate.
Train to Oktoberfest:
If you’re already in Europe and decently close to Munich, it’s worthwhile to look into train travel. Going by train takes a little longer and it’s not the cheapest option, but it leaves the smallest carbon footprint and comes with the added bonus of sightseeing along the way. Plus there’s no pesky luggage fees, and you don’t have to worry about driving hungover or missing a flight.
Bus to Oktoberfest:
Bussing is probably the cheapest option if you’re near Germany. Flixbus generally has insanely great prices, prime for students and backpackers. The bus takes a while, but you’re crammed in with heaps of fellow travellers, aka your new best friends.
Stoke provides private bus transport from Barcelona, Amsterdam, Prague, and Italy to take the stress off transportation so you can prioritize other stuff, like partying along the way with your beautiful future tent neighbors.
Driving to Oktoberfest:
We all love jamming to stellar music on a good roadie with the buds. Driving to Oktoberfest is an option if you have access to a car or have friends who want to split the cost of renting one with you. The only downside is that you have to put the car somewhere during the festival, and parking can get pretty dicey. It’s also unlikely that you’ll be using it during the fest given that you’ll probably be sloshed out of your mind if you’re doing it right.
Feel like an Okiefest expert? Ready to put your knowledge to the test? Book Stoke Travel’s all-inclusive Oktoberfest experience to join the biggest party outside the beer halls.