The Real Oktoberfest

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013 in Featured, Germany | 2 comments

German beer. Sausage. My wife in a dirndl. I must be in heaven. Nope, it’s Oktoberfest. The real one. Not a makeshift weekend event with seasonal fall beers. The original festival that started in 1810 and takes place in Munich for 15 days every year. I had dreamed of this for years so as soon as Kat suggested squeezing it into our itinerary, she knew we were locked in. 

We conveniently positioned ourselves in Switzerland for half of September, leading up to opening day of Oktoberfest on September 21st. Fortunately, Kat and I had visited Munich a few years ago so there was no real need to explore the city this time around. We were here solely for the culture and party of Oktoberfest. 

As we got off the train in Munich, we were met by Colin (our friend and generous host) and two of his buddies. They immediately took us to a store to buy our official gear for the weekend: lederhosen for me and a dirndl for Kat. We had gone back and forth on this purchase (a basic pair of lederhosen goes for 150-200 euros), but ultimately bought into the idea and were so glad we did. The outfits made for such memorable pictures and a ton of laughs. After a brief stop at Colin’s apartment to get ready, we were off to our first night in what proved to be three of the most memorable (if somewhat hazy) drinking days of my life. 

Nothing can prepare you for the sheer magnitude of Oktoberfest. I had high expectations for both the set up and the experience, and I was blown away by both. The grounds are laid out similar to that of a huge fair – carnival rides, games, kiosks selling traditional Bavarian fare – but add in roughly 15 football field-sized tents. These towering tents line both sides of the main strip, each owned and represented proudly by its brewery and fans. Some are low key and cater to an older crowd while others seem like a college frat party with 1-liter chugging contests throughout the day. We were told that some tents hold over ten thousand people so you can envision the human traffic that passes through during the day. Famous names such as Paulaner, Spaten, Hofbrau, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, and Lowenbrau are just a sample of the different beer and tent options. Each has its own vibe, crowd, and signature bands. Every night, we gravitated to the popular Hacker-Pschorr, singing and dancing with a vivacious crowd until the 10:30pm closing. 

The experience is unlike anything I’ve ever attended. It is the most friendly, welcoming, and crazy-fun party imaginable. Befriending locals and tourists from around the world throughout the day is a common – and encouraged – occurrence. By 6:00pm the local workday crowd has made their way in and the typical Bavarian polka musicians are replaced by an upbeat cover band belting out both German and American classics. It’s a contagiously festive atmosphere that culminates in lively chants and songs, table-top dancing and stein-clanging cheers. I will forever remember my first (and what I hope will not be the last) trip to Oktoberfest. Any takers?





  1. Video made me laugh. I can just picture the two of you fitting right in

  2. Kat, the hat is just too much…

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