Whether you just enjoy an occasional tipple or all the staff at your local know you by first name, I’m sure you’ll have heard of Oktoberfest. You’ll probably know it’s one of the largest beer festivals in the world. That's why there are millions of visitors year after year who yearn for liquid gold. Are you going too? Then here are a few tips to help you make the most of it.
Oktoberfest is not only exceptional for its massive popularity but also for its length. It's not crammed into an afternoon, a day, not even a weekend, but a good honest 16-18 days of pure joy, in the heart of Bavaria (Munich), and before you get carried away, it’s not all about the testing the strength of your liver, but to be a part of Bavarian culture and tradition.
2017 brings with it the 184th Oktoberfest. Starting on Saturday, the 16th of September – beer running freely until Tuesday, the 3rd of October and traditionally held at the Theresienwiese (Theresa’s meadow). You can look forward to beer tents the size of football pitches that somehow still look like or are at least reminiscent of a cozy village pub or a charming dining room.
WHERE, WHY AND WHAT IS OKTOBERFEST ORDERS?
Although most foreign visitors see this festival as an excuse to drink obscene amounts of beer and eat too much of the local delicacies (none of which are “delicate” but wonderfully substantial), the Bavarian natives know that it has a much more interesting history.
For the first time, the inhabitants of Munich met on the 12th of “Oktober”, 1810 (No it’s not a typo, that’s the German spelling) in honour of the marriage of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in the meadows outside the town walls. The event must have been truly spectacular because ever since then this event has been commemorated by local people - at the end of September and beginning of October. In the past the event also hosted horse racing (until 1960) later fairground rides and a local agricultural exhibition (still running today).
WHAT NOT TO MISS?
Since 1887, the Oktoberfest, on the first Saturday, there is a parade of local brewers, with decorated, horse-drawn drays loaded with barrels, attracting visitors to taste their "harvest".
Since 1950, a parade of traditional Bavarian costumes has also been an unforgettable part of the festivities, participants of the procession go 7 km beyond the festival grounds. It is one of the biggest costume shows in the world.
On the second Sunday of the festival (the 29th of September) is dedicated to traditional Bavarian brass bands. In the open air, you can sing and dance to the sound of the best local bands, which will surprise you with a lot of modern genres.
A FEW TIPS
- There is a strict smoking ban in all tents. It’s very important to respect this regulation, otherwise they will refuse service.
- Choose the tents that appeal to you most and book a table in advance. Without a confirmed reservation, you’ll be lucky to find a seat... Be careful though, even with the reservation that’s not the end of it! You have if you arrive on time, even if you’re only a minute late, “your” space will be fair game.
- If you didn’t manage to reserve a place, all hope is not yet lost. You will unfortunately have to get up early and brush off the cobwebs to join a queue to ensure you find a place. Preferably at least 2 hours before opening.
- Keep your mobile phone in a safe place, if not in your hotel room safe, it should be in a shoulder bag or backpack. You must remember that most mobile phones are not waterproof let alone beer-proof and you don’t want to find it taking a dip or worse still not find it at all after it elopes with an opportunist pickpocket. Who would you need to talk to anyway? Surely all you need is the watch on your wrist and you drinking buddies by your side.
WHICH WATCH FUNCTIONS FOR OKTOBERFEST?
ALARM – It can easily happen after a couple of Steins of a terrific but soporific brew. Sometimes a nap is a necessity even if just for a moment on the table. In order to make sure you don’t miss your reservation in the next tent or horror of horrors sleep long enough that the beer in front of you goes flat you’d better set an alarm.
ILLUMINATION – Events like these are definitely not going to end as the sun goes down. Even though the tents are of course lit inside after dark, however outdoors, a watch without a backlight or luminescent hands will become useless. Don’t underestimate the importance of the early stages of preparation and equip yourself with a watch for all lighting conditions.
STOPWATCH – In circumstances concerned with considerable quaffing, consumption can carelessly become competition. So how are we going to record and adjudicate such important sport? You should certainly be prepared for such eventualities with a chronograph or stopwatch function on your watch. WATER RESISTANCE– A very practical feature at an event where waitresses fly around with unfathomable numbers of litre glasses of beer. Mix that with the wandering hands and hampered coordination of the alcohol fueled and over enamoured punters, it can be a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the dangers of your own dexterity becoming degraded as you drink...
COMPASS – In an event such as this, time flies and things get lost: hats, jackets, scarves, self respect, dignity, virginity (if you take it with you), trains of thought, the plot, what was I saying? Oh yes and sometimes even You! Always better to be prepared and have any help available to get you safe to your bed.
SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL – If you want your watch to remain pristine and unscratched. Even in a drunken stumble or scuffle, a sapphire crystal is the answer.
DAY AND DATE INDICATOR – Are you planning on spending more than 1 day at Oktoberfest? Are you confident that you will keep a firm grasp of the passing of time? For dozens of satisfied customers at Oktoberfest the number displaying the date on their watch becomes meaningless as each day becomes another part of the same booze fueled celebration of all things Bavarian. Do yourself a favour and for those moments when we need to return to earth, however briefly, have a day and date indicator on your watch.
SILICON – Although a natural look and feel is often preferred over silicon in some areas, as goes watch straps they are not only practical but good looking too. Durable, waterproof and flexible, once only to be found on sports watches their advantages have found their way into the realms of fashion and even luxury watches.
A COUPLE OF INTERESTING FACTS
- In the year 1997, 450,000 chickens (AKA Hendl) were eaten
- Beer and Wine consumption is allowed from the age of 16 in Germany
- In 2013 over the 16 day festival a stonking 7.7 million litres of beer were sold
- A Maß (litre of beer) will set you back around £12
- Typical Bavarian women’s folk costume is known as a dirndl usually no shorter than knee length have sent hearts fluttering for centuries. Men should carefully observe how the bow is tied on the apron, there are messages there. If the ribbon is tied on the right the lady in question is letting the world know that her heart belongs to someone. If the bow is on the left then the game’s afoot. The lady in question is advertising her freedom, she is single, available, unwed, and unbetrothed, but don’t get carried away. Keep your hands to yourself, straighten your collar set your hat to a jaunty angle and make sure your lederhosen aren’t too tight before praying that she speaks English well enough for your best chat up lines hit the mark. You can also meet girls with the bow in the middle. Although some ladies might think they’re clicking the relationship status “it’s complicated” on FB the bow in the middle traditionally means the wearer is a virgin. Last but “knot” least if the bow is tied at the back the lady is either a widow or a waitress. It should be easy enough to distinguish between them purely by how much beer she is carrying.
- The traditional outfit for men. Lederhosen. Literally translated as leather trousers, a chequered Hemd (shirt), and don’t forget the Tirolerhüte (a traditional alpine hat)
- 70% of visitors to Oktoberfest are from Bavaria itself.
- In 2005, after a few too many occasions of a few too many lads having had a few too many and getting a little too rambunctious "Quiet Oktoberfest" was introduced. This only allows music during the day to the traditional Bavarian Brass music and restricts the volume to levels more amicable for the elderly and families.
"Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world!" Marilyn Monroe