Oktoberfest was liters of fun! Apologies for the terrible pun, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Munich and at the world’s largest beer festival. I’m pleased to say I remember the festivities, unlike my adventures at the world’s largest wine festival in Bad Durkheim. Oktoberfest is a 16-day extravaganza, which takes place during the end of September until the first weekend of October.
There are several styles of tents at the event; each one offers different beers, food and desserts. Many of the tents are based on the represented brewery, and there is a tent with an emphasis on wine. We decided to go with the Paulaner tent, because it seemed to have more of a traditional style. We got in around 9:30 a.m., and the place was already packed! If we had arrived about 15 minutes later, it’s highly unlikely we would have found a seat anywhere. We ended up sitting next to a few German guys who were very nice and enlightened us on the customs and tricks for getting served in the hectic environment.
The whole time we stayed in the tent, barmaids in dirndls (oh how I wish I had a dirndl) were carting liter after liter of beer to every table. These woman were strong! They could hold about five or six Mass (1 liter beer steins) without breaking a sweat… or a stein. And they were quick to fill our orders. I was very impressed with their strength, stamina and service. They were really on top of it, efficiently distributing the beers to an increasingly rambunctious crowd.
The liveliness and camaraderie among the attendees was infectious in the best way. Spectators cheered on men and women who proudly stood on tables and chugged their entire liter of beer in seconds. The theme song of the event seemed to be “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes… but only the melody sung to da da das every 15 minutes or so. The murmurs would start from one corner of the tent, and then quickly spread over the rest of the crowd. And soon again we would be chanting the song. But the music was not limited to what we could hum together; a traditional German band belted out songs throughout the afternoon, keeping the drinkers singing and clinking steins while shouting “Prost!” When we finally left the tent, we explored the festival grounds, which were packed with rides, food booths and more beer tents.
Later in the afternoon we explored Munich (München). I really loved the city. I saw the Glockenspiel Clock when it went off at 5 p.m. The clock was incredible. The animated figures dance and move about while the bells chime. I climbed up to the top of the clock tower, and I was rewarded with marvelous views of the city.
I also had a beer and pretzel at the Hofbraühaus. It may have been a bit redundant to go for a Mass there, but I figured while in Munich… We capped off the evening with a Ferris wheel ride back at the festival grounds. The view of the city and the festival below was breathtaking from the top of the Ferris wheel.
Oktoberfest was a such a great German experience. I’m so pleased that I was able to attend such a hugely famous event. It certainly lives up to the hype and is worth the trip. I would absolutely return if the opportunity arises. And even if I weren’t around during the time of the festival, I would still visit Munich again, because it is a lovely city with great culture and incredible buildings.