It Starts in September, The World’s Biggest Keg Par-Tay: Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest may be winding down over in Munich, Germany, but we’d like to peak your interest for all things brew and Bavarian brouhaha – because there is always next year (and beer.) We’ve even thrown in some German words you might hear around Oktoberfest (you’ll find a cheat sheet at the end of the post.)
For 16 days, the city of Munich becomes a giant keg party, but far more organized than say, a frat party with toga wearing co-eds. On the first Saturday, the city’s governor taps the inaugural barrel. On the last Sunday, fireworks commence in the Theresienwiese, the fest’s main field. In the days between, find millions of revelers clinking beer steins together, chugging and chanting “O’zapft is!”
Under the Big Tops
There are always 14 tents – and some are just for food. The Stiftl-Tent is famous for its chicken and various other poultry-dishes, which washes down well with Paulaner beer and live music. This is an incredibly family friendly tent, if you want to bring your little ones in their dirndls and lederhosen. If you’re looking to get all sloppy and fetznrausch (Totally drunk), head elsewhere.
The world-famous Hofbräu Festhalle has its main hall in the city of Munich, but this satellite tent is a huge tourist attraction. It’s not uncommon to find Maß glasses being raised to toasts and partiers rocking to music in the middle of the day. You’ll find plenty of international visitors here – don’t embarrass yourself by schbei’ming (Vomiting) all over the tent floor.
The Schottenhamel is one of the most important tents at Oktoberfest, as the first keg is tapped here. Not until the Mayor confirms the tapping was successful can any other tent begin to serve beer. In 1867, this was just a small beer booth with 50 seats, and has grown to be the largest – with over 10,000. This is a hot spot for young singles to meet and party. Guys, before you hit on a dandschig (pretty) lady, make sure you don’t have a Taubnschlog (Open fly), or you’ll be drinking alone.
The Glockenspiel on Munich
Set at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, the city is a mix of rustic tradition and modern life Munich is more than a destination for beer lovers, believers in fairy tales and Christmas gift shoppers.
The main attraction is the Rathaus-Glockespiel, located in the 800+ year-old Marienplatz, or central square. This huge mechanical clock has 43 bells and 32 life-sized figurines that come to life in a 260-foot tower, reenacting two scenes from Munich’s history. The whole show lasts about 15 minutes, culminating in the appearance of a small golden bird chirping three times. Show up at 11 am to see this “tweet” show.
Getting to the Good Stuff
Munich is in the south of Germany, in the heart of Bavaria. But thanks to the high-speed, ICE train, you can easily get there from all points in Deutchland with a German Rail Pass. Berlin is just under six hours, Frankfurt, a bit over three.
Not in Germany? Get here from Zurich or Vienna in four hours. In Paris, Amsterdam or Rome? Take the night train and save on a hotel stay. Have a sleep and wake ready to enjoy a stein to the very last noagerl (the last bit of beverage in your stein).
There are plenty of cliches that go along wtih Oktoberfest. The thigh-slapping dances, green costumes, hats with horns. Forget what you’ve seen in movies, and discover centuries-old traditions that have become the stuff of legend.
Drink up. Then go beyond the brew.
As a bonus, here is a convenient German language cheat sheet for your next visit to Oktoberfest.
- Fetznrausch: Totally drunk
- Schbei’ming – Vomiting
- Dandschig – Pretty
- Taubnschlog – Open fly
- Noagerl – the last bit of beverage in your stein