From September 17 to October 3, the legendary celebration of German beer, cuisine, and culture in Bavaria's capital is returning after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsprprisingly, it's necessary to make your arrangements months in advance, so if you've always wanted to experience Wiesn (as it's known in Bavarian), take note here for 2023!
What Exactly Is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest has its roots in the marriage of Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony in October 1810, when a celebration was staged on a field near the city gate and besides eating, drinking, and making merry it included a horse race. These days it's held mostly in September - at 17 festival halls in the 35-hectare (85-acre) Theresienwiese fairgrounds, southwest of city centre - to take advantage of the better local weather, and boasts a lot more bells and whistles, including amusement-park rides, games, costume parades, concerts, and other cultural performances. It attracts more than six million people from across Germany and the world.
Choosing a Hotel
There are a number of hotels near the Theresienwiese, but since the grounds are served by an U-Bahn (metro/subway) station, it's not particularly inconvenient to book anywhere in the city. Keep in mind, though, that many properties, even humble hostels, jack up their rates massively - sometimes as much as four or five times normal - during Oktoberfest. It may be possible to get around this somewhat by booking well ahead.You may also be able to lock in more reasonable rates by booking special Oktoberfest packages from various tour operators like this one.
Several Other Things to Remember
Below are a few factors about may well be your most unforgettable folk festival in your life:
Generally the tents are open from 10 am to 11:30 pm on weekdays from 9 am on weekends.Stalls and booths open from 9 am to midnight, and rides mostly noon till midnight.
Admission to the Theresienwiese and to the tents is free - you pay for beer and food once inside. It's a good idea to make a reservation, but it's not necessary. Rides are also paid individually, and run from 4 to 9. You can expect to spend around 70 per person for each day at the Wies'n. In addition, as mentioned before, Munich lodging costs are likely to be quite a bit higher during the Wies'n. One excellent website, HappytoWander.com, provides an excellent explanation and breakdown of costs - transportation, accommodation, and the Weis'n itself - as well as a useful guide to navigating tent reservations.
English Is Fine
Many locals as well as Wies'n staff can understand English quite well, and there are even menus in English. But it can't hurt to learn a few German words and phrases to spice things up!
Dressing the Part
You can dress any way you like at Oktoberfest of course, but perhaps more than anywhere else in Western Europe you'll see a good number of Bavarians dressed in traditional outfits even outside of Oktoberfest, and during the festivities you'll see them all over the places. So if you can spend a little extra (and you can usually manage it for less than 100 euros), you can get more into the spirit of things by following their lead. For men it's lederhosen (leather shorts, often accompanied by suspenders) and green felt hat with a corded band, garnished by feathers or flowers. Women wear the dirndl, a close-fitting bodice with a low neckline, a blouse under the bodice, a wide, high-waisted skirt, and an apron. You can order these items online in advance or come a day early to browse stores like Angermaier and Steindl Trachten.
For more information, check out the official website here.