I recently attended the beer and sausage-soaked Oktoberfest in Munich. Saturday really is not the best day to go as the beer tents are full to the brim and getting a seat or even a table is like winning the lottery. However, we were smart this year and booked a table in advance at the smaller Hippodrom tent. This tent may not be the largest but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm and flair. The crowd is young and international (less beer tourists from Australia and USA) and is frequented by singles and many a celebrity, including Paris Hilton in 2006.
In addition to reserving a table, we pre-ordered a food package, which consisted of a Salad with Croutons and Speck and a huge platter of different roasted meats, sausages, sauerkraut and dumplings. Everything was seriously good. But that could have just been the beer talking…
As usual, uncountable Maße (litres) of beer were consumed and behaviour started becoming erratic. This is usually when the camera is most used to take embarrassing shots of drunk people. It did not help when the Schnapps came out.
This was definitely the best Oktoberfest experience I’ve had because it did not involve getting up at 5am to take a train to Munich and waiting outside a beer tent with 10,000 other people for hours to try and get a table. So here are my top tips for a stress-free and enjoyable Oktoberfest:
1) Reserve A Table
If you’re travelling from far-away lands to experience the hedonistic orgy known as Oktoberfest, be smart and book a table in advance. It requires a bit of planning however. All main tents have their own websites with instructions on how to reserve a table. Some open reservations as early as December for the following year but most start in February/March. Most bookings require a minimum of 10 people and the selection of a food and beverage package. You can find a list of the different tents here.
2) Avoid Weekends
If you don’t book a table and want to be sure of getting a seat, go during the week. Tents are still alive and full of people but you don’t have to wait in line for hours which reduces the stress factor considerably.
3) Go to a smaller tent
Oktoberfest first-timers will probably want to go to the largest, most popular Hofbräu or Löwenbräu tents. These tents are a lot of fun but fill up extremely quickly with beer tourists, mostly from Australia, USA, England and Japan. For a more traditional experience head to the hip Hippodrom tent, which is a favourite of the locals, or Fischer Vroni, probably one of the most comfortable tents at Oktoberfest.
4) Get there early
If you don’t take my advice, don’t book a table and want to go on a weekend in one of the big tents then the rule is the earlier the better. Tents open at 9am on the weekends but you need to get there well in advance to secure a seat. Some people stand outside for hours only to have the doors slammed in their faces because of “Überfüllung” (overcrowding), and once that happens, you can forget about getting in for the rest of the day. So make sure you get there two or three hours before the doors open. And bring some beer with you for the wait.
So start planning for Oktoberfest 2012! Prost!
-The Young Foodie