" Ein Prosit"Ein Prosit, ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit Ein Prosit, ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit. OANS ZWOA DREI! G'SUFFA!
When I was living in Germany I tried to steal a beer mug from a beer fest on two separate occasions and got caught. The funny thing about it was that everyone else was doing it, I was just the one who wasn't smart enough to get away with it. It's fest season in Germany.
If you've ever taken part you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, then you are in for a treat. It's a beer drinking extravaganza unlike any other. Oh yeh, and there are games. Roller coasters that make you want to puke and even a hill aptly named Drunk Hill, where one friend put it best: "Drunk hill is a good place to play a drinking game. First one to get carried and dropped off the top loses." There are many beer fest options in Germany, and below I've put together a few thoughts on some the different types.
Where in Munich is Oktoberfest?
When King Ludwig I got married in 1810 he threw a party like no other. Held on the Theresienweise grounds in Munich the king and his new wife had their wedding reception for the citizens of Munich.
When is Oktoberfest?
Since 1810 the event has expanded, now lasting for an extraordinary 16 days from the end of September to the first week of October. Carnival rides have been added, and an inhumane amount of beer is consumed every year. Oktoberfest has become the largest festival in the world, attracting over 6 million people annually.
• Did I mention the largest fest in the world!? There is no party that compares.
• World renowned for the beer, food, and diversity of people. Last time I went I talked physics with a guy from Norway. Hows that for your barroom talk?
• Get a chance to drink all of "the Big 6" at one place. "The Big 6" refers to the 6 Breweries who produce beer in Munich: Lowenbrau, Hofbrauhaus, Augustinerbrau, Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr, and Spaten.
• This fest has everything to make you happy. They have an awesome carnival. Ride stomach churning roller coasters, take a spin on the ferris wheel, or shoot the tin cans and win a prize for your Schätze.
• Munich is an awesome city, a mecca of culture, great food, and much history. On top of the beer festival you can explore the many rich layers of Munich.
• You can expect lots of tourists.
• Good luck finding a table inside of a beer tent to sit at.
• Lodging, food, and beer and all very expensive. Come prepared to spend money, which doesn't really keep you of debt.
• Oktoberfest, O-fest, is the corporate fest, meaning you lose a bit of authenticity and probably won't find yourself swigging beer with a local.
Tips for Travelers:
• Book your flights and lodging early to obtain the best prices and availability. Another option to consider is training in to Munich from a nearby, small town where you can find cheap lodging. The festival is held within walking distance of the main train station, the Hauptbahnhof.
• Visit the official O-fest website to see the list of themed days, beer tent info, and other fest attractions
• Eat lots of pretzels this year, if they have them. Consider it a miracle.
• Wear Lederhosen or a dirndl. Spend the money on an outfit. It is part of the fun.
• Remember that German Beer is brewed under the purity laws of the Rheinheitsgebot, which means that it is strong and will knock you on the floor, especially when chugged from a Maß, a liter beer mug.
• The best way to get a table inside of a beer tent is to come early in the morning and drink all day, or befriend a German who can get you VIP access. The problem with this is that you can't drink all day, even though you think you can, and will end up on the "Drunk Hill" or puking outside the tent in front of a bunch of strangers. If you can befriend a German, that's great, but good luck with that.
Small Town Fests:
Many of the smaller towns in Germany also hold yearly beer festivals, many called "festwoche," or fest weeks. These festivals haven't been around nearly as long as O-fest, but they provide a touch of authenticity that O-fest cannot.
"Small town fests show more traditional dance, games, customs, and events."
• Take part in some of the events, like the steinheben, a traditional German contest in which participants lift a 508 pound, (254 kg) stone as high as they can.
• Soak in German Culture by rubbing elbows with locals, trying to speak German, and gaining insight into the designs on their lederhosens/ dirndls (specific knitwork, colors, and accessories denotes the town they are from and other things). Never try to drink as much as a local, they will destroy you.
• Small town fests have an authentic feel to them.
• More cost effective in terms of lodging, food and drinks
• More traditional dance, events, customs and dress. Such as the below:
• Don't expect a lot of diversity. It's you and the locals here.
• As opposed to Oktoberfest small town beer festivals are sponsored by one specific beer. This means you can't taste test them all, but have to settle for whatever the sponsored beer is.
• Some are not very traveler friendly, meaning some locals will see you as a "stupid party crasher."
• The carnival, or amusement part aspect usually isn't very good. These are small towns after all.
Tips for Travelers
• Eat lots 0f food, which is delicious
• Don't over drink and ruin the chance to enjoy the festival. Yeh, like you're going to follow that piece of advice.
• Have good directions back to your hotel, or a business card with the address. You may not be able to communicate with German drivers, or may be too intoxicated to do so.
Food for Thought: Which Beer Fest is your favorite?