Just about everyone who heard we were going to Oktoberfest warned us that the whole event is “organized chaos.” Now on the other side, I can’t imagine a better description.
In order to fully take advantage of your time at Oktoberfest, there are some tips and tricks that will ensure that you get the best experience possible!
- The early bird gets the stein. Be sure you are in line at the entrance at least 30-45 minutes prior to opening. You will still be in a huge line, but being early is truly the only way to ensure your spot in a tent.
- Make sure you are at the correct entrance. Oh man did we mess this one up! We had no idea there were multiple entrances to the festival and ended up at the entrance as far away from our target tent as possible. You can imagine our surprise when we made it to the tent and it was already completely full, despite us being near the front of the line! Scout out your tent ahead of time and make sure you wait in the line closest to your destination.
- Don’t run! Once the gates open, people flood inside in full Black Friday fashion. Make sure you walk to your tent or enjoy being yelled at by security guards. Yes, I did get yelled at immediately.
- Opt for a standing table in the center of the tent. If you read nothing else in this post, let it be this tip! The tents feature seated tables around the outside of the room with many standing tables in the center. We managed to snag a seated table and settled in for the day. Well, within about three hours, security came around and kicked everyone out of their tables to allow for “turnover.” We were kicked out of the tent, then making it impossible to get back inside. The center standing tables are the only ones that they don’t turnover, so if you plan to stay at Oktoberfest for more than a few hours, make sure you snag one of these. Plus, the center is where the action is at and a great place to meet people from all over the world!
- Don’t mess with the Beer Maids (and tip and treat them well). The Beer Maids are badasses. They stop for absolutely no one and I saw one woman kick a lady who wouldn’t get out of her way. As far as we could tell, they run the show and can pretty much do whatever they need to to ensure their safety and productivity. Be kind to them, tip them well, don’t touch beers until they hand them to you, ask how they are doing, and move out of their way when they are coming through.
- Don’t mess with the security guards. Oktoberfest guards are full on terrifying. We saw a drunk man try to push his way inside and end up with what looked to be a broken hand, thanks to a hardcore security guard and a heavy duty door (just use your imagination). They are not understanding. They are not kind. And they don’t have time for you. I tried to ask a security guard a question and was pushed out of the way for bothering him. Just leave them be and don’t do anything to make them notice you.
- Get in the bathroom line before you have to go. The bathroom lines are absolutely wild. The women’s bathroom line in particular (no surprise there!) is at least 30 minutes of shoving and chaos. Don’t wait until you already have to go to get in line, unless you want to end up like the many, many women I saw peeing on the side of the building because they couldn’t wait any longer. Premeditating your needs is the name of the game.
- Wear the costume! It’s not an exaggeration to say that everyone is wearing a dirndl or lederhosen.We found ours for 20 euro at a shop called Kik (suuuuper classy!) and considering that they were basically destroyed at the end of the day, we were happy we saved the money. Costumes are available all over the city. We ended up in a custom shop at one point, selling 300 euro versions of what you can get for 30-60 euro in a shop in city center. Don’t stress about getting the most beautiful, authentic version for one day’s wear. On the other hand do not get the trashy Halloween costume version unless you want to be ridiculed all day.
- Don’t. Leave. The. Tent. Don’t do it. You won’t be allowed to come back inside, effectively ending your day at Oktoberfest. Just don’t do it.
- Radlers save lives. We initially thought that the Oktoberfest beers were 4-5% alcohol, not the 7-8% they actually are. A few liters of those bad boys and you will be a mess really quickly. I am not exactly sure what the alcohol content is of the Radler (a sweet shandy), but I know it saved my life. I stuck to 90% Radlers during our day at Oktoberfest, and despite drinking quite a bit, I never got too drunk. I kept my composure and my stomach all day… thanks, Radlers!
- Eat. Eat. Eat. At Oktoberfest you will be drinking a lot. Don’t make the mistake of not eating. Whether it is a pretzel, chicken, or a sandwich, make sure you order food at least once during the day if you want to stay upright.
- Just be cold. Before we left for the festival, I was having a serious crisis about whether or not I should bring my jacket. On one hand, I hate being cold. On the other hand, I hate carrying my jacket around all day. I ended up leaving my jacket at home and I am so thankful for that. You won’t need it inside, and it would have been an absolute pain carrying it all day. When we left and it was incredibly cold, we just opted to take a $10 cab back to our AirBnb. Completely worth not having to lug a coat around all day.
- Be aware of your surroundings and company. In case you didn’t hear, Oktoberfest is full of drunk people. Just as you would be in a bar or club back home, be aware of who is around you. Women at Oktoberfest receive a huge amount of unsolicited (and sometimes solicited) attention from drunk men and even though there are plenty of people around you as extra sets of eyes, just make sure you are coherent and aware of who is surrounding you. If someone isn’t receptive to “no,” don’t hesitate to grab a security guard or friend for assistance.
- Make friends! The overarching theme of Oktoberfest is that everyone is just there to have fun. We ended up spending the afternoon with a huge group of guys from Australia as well as a super sweet couple from the States who is currently living in Germany. People were so kind and welcoming and the most fun we had was meeting new, amazing people.
- Lean in to the chaos. Yes, it is absolute chaos. You can let it overwhelm you or you can just have a few beers, accept the chaos, and have a great time. Opt for the later!