If you’ve never been to Oktoberfest, you'll probably have some (or a lot) misconceptions. Here are the most important things you need to know on one page.
Dear first-time-visitor, congratulations on having decided on a trip to felicity. Especially, if you’re not familiar with the Bavarian Volksfest-culture, you’re most likely to have misconceptions about the largest folk festival on the world. But even, if you’ve already been the festivals in Straubing or Rosenheim or smaller ones, you should read this short guide, as many things are different in Munich.
What is the Oktoberfest?
The Oktoberfest, lately even outside Munich also known as “Wiesn”, is neither a holiday, nor a season or a type of event. The Oktoberfest is a festival, which has been celebrated since 1810 at the Theresienwiese (Therese’s Meadow) in Munich. It dates back to the horse race as a part of the public celebration of the wedding between crown prince Ludwig and his Therese, on October 17, 1810. Due to its tremendous success and the search of the young Kingdom of Bavaria for points of identification, the festival was repeated ever since. It’s usually visited by more than six million every year and is said to be the largest fair of the world.
Admission and Reservations
Let’s begin with a misconception, many foreigners share: Admission to the Munich Oktoberfest is free. Commercial “Oktoberfest”-events, which have sprung up like mushrooms outside of Bavaria in the last couple of years usually want you to buy tickets in advance, which is not the case at the original. There is no such thing as Oktoberfest tickets. Even table reservations are in general for free, only a number of vouchers has to be purchased in advance.
That shady scalpers are able to charge four-digit prices for table reservations (often called tickets in that context) results from the fact that the beer tents at the Oktoberfest are regularly closed for overcrowding on Friday nights and Saturdays, while a reservation guarantees admission. Such a reservation is never obligatory to enter the large beer tents. Twelve of the large 14 beer tents and the two at the Oide Wiesn all have to keep large areas of their tents free from reservations.
The Munich Oktoberfest is mainly divided into two areas: On the right (west) side, seen from the main entrance, you’ll find the Wirtsbudenstraße with most of the large beer tents. The Schaustellerstraße (Showmen Street) on the left (east) side, is home to most of the large rides. They are connected by multiple cross-ways, the largest being the Matthias-Pschorr-Straße in front of the Bavaria statue.
In most years, the Oide Wiesn takes place south of that street, behind the Ferris Wheel. This is another separate festival offering two more large beer tents and several old rides. Although actually being a pretty new event, the Oide Wiesn offers a way calmer and tradition atmosphere than the actual Oktoberfest. Every four years however, the Oktoberfest ends at the Matthias-Pschorr-Straße as the Central Bavarian Agricultural Fair will then take place in the south part of the Theresienwiese.
Also if you have enough time to see everything, you may still simply oversee some attractions or simply not understand, what they’re about. This is only a short list of the most famous classic Oktoberfest attractions: