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Blog How to do Oktoberfest 2019: A first timer’s guide
Date: 12 September 2019

How to do Oktoberfest 2019: A first timer’s guide

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Take seven million litres of beer, sixty thousand pork knuckles, 38 beer tents, dozens of oompah bands, a bunch of stomach-churning fairground rides, and what have you got? The ingredients for Oktoberfest – one of the biggest and most memorable festivals in the world.

While Oktoberfest is celebrated in many parts of the world, more than six million revellers descend on the German city of Munich each year to enjoy the biggest of them all. This 16-day folk festival features colourful parades, fairground rides, traditional food, costumes, music, and of course, a whole lotta beer.

If it’s your first time going to Oktoberfest in Munich, this guide is for you.

Tip: Book your flights to Munich with Norwegian and earn CashPoints. They’ll get you money off your next adventure!

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Oktoberfest?

Crowds at the funfair at Munich's Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest in Munich is a massive deal, with over six million people attending each year

On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the wedding celebrations, which took place in a meadow in front of the city gates.

The five-day party became an annual event and is still going strong today in the form of Oktoberfest.

When is it happening?

21 September – 6 October 2019. That’s over two weeks of merriment – perfect for grabbing a getaway with friends or a weekend away with the guys.

Where’s it happening?

The Theresienwiese (Theresa’s meadow), close to Munich city centre.

How much does it cost?

At Oktoberfest in Munich, entry into the park and beer tents is free. However, you’ll need spending money for food, drinks and activities. At 11 euros a beer, you’ll want to think wisely about how you splash the cash.

Now you know the basics, here are some tips for getting the most out of your first Oktoberfest experience.

The beer necessities

Two large beers on a table at Munich's Oktoberfest
Massive beers in litre glasses take centre stage at Oktoberfest

While all Bavarian beer is delicious, the beer served at Oktoberfest is in a league of its own. Munich’s ‘big-6’ breweries produce it specifically for Oktoberfest, in accordance with strict German purity laws. This means it’s some of the best beer in the world.

Tip: Oktoberfest beer is served by the Maß (a litre measure) and at 6%, it’s stronger than your average pint. So, pace yourself!

Where it all happens

Crowds of people sit at tables in a colouful beer tent at Munich's Oktoberfest
Don’t miss the keg-tapping kick off on the first day of Oktoberfest before heading to one of the many beer tents. Photo: Roman Boed – Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There are 17 large beer tents and 21 smaller ones. Each offers something different, from traditional to romantic to more family-friendly. To get a better idea, check out this overview of the big tents.

If you only have time to visit one, head to the Schottenhamel. It’s where everything kicks off. At 12 p.m. on the first day, Munich’s mayor opens the festival by tapping the first keg of beer and shouting ‘O’zapft is!’ (it’s tapped). Then, and only then, can the festivities start.

Getting your groove on

A marching band of men in traditional Bavarian dress at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest isn’t just about eating and drinking; it’s a folk festival where you can catch Bavarian bands in action

Music is a big part of Oktoberfest in Munich. You’ll hear everything from yodelling to Bavarian brass bands playing Robbie Williams classics. But the song you’ll hear most is the German drinking song, ‘Ein Prosit’. The bands in each tent belt it out every 20 minutes to get people into the party spirit.

When you hear it, it’s your cue to stand up, sing along, prost (cheers) your neighbours and have a swig of beer.

Dress code

The bottom half of four men standing at a bar wearing traditional Lederhosen
Guys, don’t forget your Lederhosen!

If you want to do Oktoberfest properly, you’ll need to dress the part. That means shirt and Lederhosen (leather shorts) for the gents, and dirndls (traditional German dress) for the ladies.

Dressing up is not essential, but if you really want to do Oktoberfest like a pro, the ‘go-hard-or-go-home’ approach to looking the part is the best way to start!

Tip: Comfortable shoes are a must; you’ll be on your feet most of the day.

All the fun of the fair

People riding the swing carousel at Munich's Oktoberfest
Make sure you hit a few of the funfair rides at Munich’s Oktoberfest

Beer and music are not the only reasons to visit Oktoberfest. It caters for thrill-seekers too. Test your nerve on the swing carousel, the Toboggan or the SkyFall (the world’s tallest mobile drop tower). Or, for something a little less high octane, enjoy the view from Willenborg’s Ferris Wheel.

Food, glorious food

Close-up of a salted pretzel
Munich is famous for its salty, doughy, delicious pretzels, and you can find them in abundance at Oktoberfest

Your priority may be beer, but don’t forget to line your stomach.

If you’re a carnivore, get your chops around a Currywurst (a steamed and fried pork sausage seasoned with curry ketchup), Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle), or succulent Hendl (roast chicken).

Vegetarians, the Spaetzle noodles are a must, as are the giant doughy pretzels.  

Beyond the festival

The rooftops of Munich on a clear day with snow-covered mountains in the background
Take some time to explore Munich and its surroundings

There’s a lot more to Munich than Oktoberfest. There’s beautiful architecture, oodles of culture and loads of green space. Be sure to tag some time on to the end of your holiday for sightseeing.

If you want to pack as much in to your Munich trip as possible, why not book a guided tour? Here are our recommendations for some great tours with GetYourGuide, where you can see the sights and earn CashPoints towards your next Norwegian flight at the same time.

4-hour bike tour of Munich

A person sitting on a bench reading next to a bike on a stand with Munich's English Garden lake in the background
Stop off at Munich’s English Garden for some peace and quiet on a bike tour of the city. Photo: TeaMeister – Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Get to know the city on two wheels with a guide to show you the sights. You’ll see historic buildings, lovely parks, beer gardens and much more.

Night watchman city tour by torchlight

Explore Munich’s old town with a night watchman as he performs his evening round. Listen to his exciting stories and legends whilst you admire the impressive sights of the city at night.

Neuschwanstein Castle tour

Neuschwanstein castle surrounded by green and brown trees with a lake in the background
Neuschwanstein in the Bavarian Alps is beautiful in autumn.

While you’re in Munich, a day trip to the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein is a must. This full-day tour will take you on a magical adventure to the beautiful Bavarian Alps.

Ready for a taste of Munich?

If our guide has given you thirst for Oktoberfest, get online and book your flight to Munich with Norwegian.

And don’t forget, with Norwegian Reward, you can earn CashPoints on your hotel, rental car and city tours, in addition to your flight. Prost!

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