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Slurping beer, snogging beer wenches, munching sausages, riding rollercoasters – it’s got to be Munich’s one and only Oktoberfest

You’ve probably had a few warm up sessions – nights of overdoing it at the pub or maybe even a beer festival where you worked your way through all the taps. But there’s nothing that can prepare you for the boozy bender that is Oktoberfest, a time when the world agrees it’s OK to chug as much amber nectar as you possibly can, all in the name of German culture. We’ll drink to that.

Oktoberfest has been running since 1810, when Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese and the National Guard organised a large horse race by way of public celebration. A good time was had by one and all, so they decided to throw a party the same time the following year. And so on. 

Nowadays, it’s grown into an absolute behemoth of a beer festival – 2013’s fest will be the 180th edition. No less than 14 tents are set up in Munich, serving slopping, frothy steins of beer, platefuls of heavy Bavarian grub, and even the odd glass of wine, if you feel that way inclined. Before, during and after drinking there’s also plenty of entertainment on offer: yodelling performances (naturally), oompah bands and a fairground complete with Ferris wheel and roller coasters. A giant party, by anyone’s standards. Here’s what you can expect and everything you need to know to make the most of it. 





What to expect: Good beer and bad behaviour 

Unsurprisingly, many of Oktoberfest’s fans say their memories of the festival are a little, shall we say, hazy? 
But Australian-British Haley Langtree, 23, won’t forget her first time: “How can you really describe Oktoberfest? Better question is what can you remember from it! Going toOktoberfest was a last-minute decision, paid for with money I was meant to use to set up myself up in London and during a time I was meant to be looking for work and a place to live – but I regret nothing.

“I went camping with Topdeck and had an amazing time. Steins larger then your head, beer tents, dirndl and lederhosen as far as the eye can see, onesies, German drinking songs (and the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army), someone forced to skull every couple of minutes, after-parties at the campsite, Hey Baby sung repeatedly late at night and early in the mornings, collapsing tents, exhaustion, and many awkward/funny/great other stories and moments...

“The best part by far was meeting some truly unique and crazy people, whether it was being joined by strangers, other people on the tour, or people who are simply walking in the same direction as you. Oh, and finally appreciating beer. It left a dent in my wallet, I was exhausted after a week, but it was one of the most beer-tastic experiences of my life and I will hopefully be doing it all over again this year.”





TNT reader Alastair Brown has both feet planted firmly in the hazy camp, but this is what he shared with us on Facebook: “Been there twice but can’t remember too much about it apart from the gorgeous beer, tasty chicken, snogging a serving wench and someone breakinginto the campsite’s supply shop. Oh, and something about a bicycle getting thrown into the river below the weir. Beer was good though and no hangover!”

Clea Marshall, 28, from New Zealand, had an Oktoberfest experience that sounds like something between a surreal dream and a seriously epic party. She says: “Last year thefollowing things happened – a randy horse that was trained to nuzzle ladies’ cleavage totally nibbled my boobs! Then my boyfriend and I befriended an entire table of Italian dudes at Paulaner Hall, where we had a deep and meaningful with them for several hours. We swore to be BFFs forever, then never added them on Facebook. 

At Hippodrom we met an elderly German couple called Renata and Martin and promised to meet them for lunch, same day same time this year at the same tent. “We went on the rollercoaster late at night, but my other half was so smashed he doesn’t remember it at all. I also ate a chocolate covered banana and got it all over my face.” Perhaps it was time to head home then, Clea?


What to wear: Dirndls and lederhosen

Half the fun of Oktoberfest is getting kitted out in traditional German outfits for your drinking session. For lads, this means a red checkered or white shirt with lederhosen (long leather shorts) and braces. Ladies, a full dirndl includes a bodice, blouse (the boobier the better), full skirt and apron. As for those felt alpine hats with a feather... sure, why not?

These outfts are available all over Munich, but the more authentic ones can be quite pricey, upwards of £150. Lots of Oktoberfesters cut costs by going second-hand, or evenmaking their own (Clea’s friend made hers and stitched a little Kiwi flag on the apron). Department store C&A stocks cheap versions and there are a few branches in Munich.Buying the overly skimpy outfits available online or from sex shops is a big no-no, as Munichers don’t approve.

What to eat: Beyond the sauerkraut

Believe us, you’re going to need some serious stodge to line your stomachs if you’re going to be putting away all those steins of grog. Favourite dishes at Oktoberfest are hendl(roast chicken), schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) and Bavarian sausages, but some of the tents do more specialist grub. At the Wildstuben tent, you can get roast wild boar and venisondishes, while at the Schu%u0308tzen-Festzelt tent, suckling pig prepared in an authentic Bavarian malt beer sauce is served.  Carbing up by snacking on giant pretzels is also a winner.

What to drink: Best of Bavarian

A ‘mass’ is one litre of beer, served in a stein, and costs around £7.70. While there isn’t the huge range of beers available that you’d expect for a festival devoted to thefoamy stuff, there’s certainly plenty on offer. All the brands served are regional, and adhere to the strict 1516 Bavarian Purity Requirements, which mean only water, hops andbarley can be used to brew them. Names you’re likely to recognise include Augustiner, Paulaner, Spaten-Franziskaner, Löwenbräu and Hofbräu. Different beers are served atvarious tents, so pick your favourite and arrive early. Some punters nab their seats at 9am as they fill up so fast – and yes, you can get served at that hour.

What else to do: Explore Munich

Honestly, you don’t have to drink beer the whole time you’re in the city. Take a breather and see some of Munich’s sights. You can get a great view of the skyline from the 290m-high Olympic Tower at Munich’s Olympiapark (olympiapark.de). 

For petrol-heads, BMW’s HQ (known as four-cylinder tower) and the museum next to it is a must-see (bmw-welt.com). There are lots of exhibitions about the technical developmentof cars, and vintage models on display to drool over. Get your culture fi x at the 17th-century baroque Nymphenburg Palace (schloss-nymphenburg.de), which has pavilions open to the public, fi lled with grand period furniture and paintings.

Finally, if you need a break from the crowds, Munich has a number of spacious green lungs. The biggest is the sprawling English Garden (Englischer Garten), which stretches for 5kmand is one of Europe’s largest city parks. Relax by the lake, sprawl out on the grass, or go for a stroll along the winding paths (watch out for naked sunbathers – it’s a thing here).

 

OKTOBERFEST DICTIONARY

• Biddscheen: Please, also “here you go”
• Eihebn: If you’re so dizzy because of too much beer, you have to cling to something
• Bieseln: To take a piss. Many prefer “wild bieseln” to avoid the charge to use a toilet
• Froaseln: Nonsense drivel
• Fackl: A young pig, or an indecently behaving person
• Fetznrausch: Totally drunk
• Hi: Broken
• Mognschoaß: A burp
• Noagerlzuzla: Insult. Someone who drinks beer dregs
• Obandeln: To flirt with explicit intention
• Prost: Cheers!
• Schbei’m: To vomit or spit


GETTING THERE: Fly from London Stansted to Munich from £97 return with easyJet. easyjet.com
WHEN TO GO: Oktoberfest runs from September 21 until October 6. The official opening ceremony is at noon at the Schottenhamel tent when the Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first keg.
CURRENCY: £1 = €1.18
ACCOMMODATION: Wombat’s is a popular hostel chain with a branch handily close to Munich’s Hauptbahnhof station. Rooms are bright and basic, and there’s a friendly atmosphere. Dormbeds start from £13.50pn over Oktoberfest period, and the £3.20 all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet is a bargain. wombats-hostels.com
SEE: oktoberfest.de

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