50 Things You Need to Know about Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest welcome sign
This year I visited Munich for the first time during its famous Oktoberfest, and the entire experience was just incredible. I wouldn’t have believed just how massive and extraordinary the festival was unless I had witnessed it with myself. Apart what I had heard about it in passing, I had only a vague idea of what Oktoberfest would be like, and I was surprised and impressed by what I experienced once I was there. Here are 50 things you need to know about Oktoberfest as a first-time visitor.
Oktoberfest Munich
1. Oktoberfest is the biggest beer festival in the world.
2. The first Oktoberfest took place in 1810.
3. On the first Saturday of the event, no beer is allowed to be served until the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg at exactly high noon.
4. This year, 5.9 million people visited Oktoberfest.
5. Approximately three-quarters of the visitors are from the Bavaria region, while the rest come from all over the world.
6. Despite all the drinking and crowds, the bathrooms are clean and well-organized.
7. Entry to Oktoberfest is free.
8. There are two sessions: morning and evening.
9. Tents open between 9-10 A.M.
10. The evening session begins between 4-6 P.M.
11. The last beer is served around 10:30 P.M.
12. There are fourteen large tents and twenty small tents at the Oktoberfest.
13. The large tents are huge – the Hofbräu-Festzelt has a capacity of almost 10,000.
14. A liter of beer costs around 10-11 euros.
15. All transactions are cash-only, so remember to bring enough with you when you go.
16. In all tents you must be seated to order a beer.
17. The drinking age for beer in Germany is only 16.
18. In 2015, over 7.7 million liters (~2 million gallons) of beer were consumed during Oktoberfest.
19. The beer served at Oktoberfest is sourced from six Munich’s breweries: Spaten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu.
20. Beer brewed for the festival must contain at least 6% alcohol.
21. Beer is served in the Maß, a huge mug that contains 1 liter of beer.
22. Tent security stopped 110,000 people from taking their mugs home with them this year.
23. At Oktoberfest, the Maß is always made of glass so you can tell that your Maß is full.
24. The German beer waitresses are impressive – they can carry over 10 of these (roughly 40-60 pounds) at a time!
25. Tip your servers 10-15%, although a larger tip will ensure you will be served often and quickly.
26. Einstein once worked at Oktoberfest fixing the light bulbs!
27. The majority of people are dressed in some variation of lederhosen or dirndl.
28. Lederhosen are shorts made of leather, with longer versions called Bundhosen or Kniebundhosen available.
29. The dirndl is made up of 4 pieces: a bodice, blouse, skirt, and apron.
30. Where the apron bow is tied indicates relationship status: left means single; right means taken.
31. Buying a lederhosen or dirndl is expensive if you wait to buy in Munich during Oktoberfest (we bought them, we know).
32. After shopping around, the cheapest place to buy a lederhosen or dirndl was the train station, although you get what you pay for.
33. There are around 140 restaurants and food stands at Oktoberfest.
34. Over half a million chickens are roasted and consumed during Oktoberfest.
35. Approximately 112,000 pork sausages and 78,000 pork knuckles were served in 2014.
36. Other popular food options include pretzels, mackerel on a stick, and hot dogs – yum.
Oktoberfest pretzel
37. Live bands perform at the center of every tent.
38. You must know Ein Prosit and remember to drink at the end of the song.
39. I still don’t know the answer to “Who the f*ck is Alice?”
40. Other popular Oktoberfest songs included Country Roads, Sweet Caroline, We Are the Champions, and I’m a Believer.
41. Cheers by saying “Prost!”
42. Order beer by saying “Bier, bitte!”
43. To find a seat without a reservation, find tables without a “Reservierung” or “Reserviert” sign, and politely ask to join.
Hofbräu Festhalle
44. You will make friends with everyone sitting around you by the end of the night.
45. Wear comfortable shoes – it is very likely you’ll be standing, or even dancing, on the benches.
46. However, standing on the tables is strictly forbidden, and you could get kicked out of the tent for doing so.
47. A popular souvenir is the Lebkuchen, a heart-shaped gingerbread necklace decorated with German phrases such as Ich Liebe Dich (“I love you”).
48. If you send a postcard from Oktoberfest, the Bavarian post offices mark them with special stamps.
49. Oktoberfest always ends on first weekend of October.
50. Oktoberfest is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience that I completely enjoyed and will never forget.

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