Bavarian beer - you drink it from xx-large cups called "Mass". This German-Bavarian word translated means "measure". And if you have means then pay visit to renowned Oktoberfest - any year on a large open air site called "Wiesn". Dozens of enormous tents host more than a million mostly beer drinking enthusiasts. It is a "Gaudi" - that's no Barelonese architect, it is Bavarian for "fun", stupid!
This year's Munich Oktoberfest starts on September 17, 2005.
Important dates to remember: September 17, 2005, 10.45 a.m. "Einzug der Festwirte and Brauereien", in English: "Entrance of the Brewers and Innkeepers". A bit later, the mayor of Munich - Christian Ude - will open the Munich Oktoberfest by the words "O'zapft is", a famous saying that announces the successful opening of the first barrel of beer. It is a cunning job to hit the barrel with a hammer opening a small hole and get in the "Zapfen" at the same time. Whoever fails get splashed all over by fountains of beer.
The day after, Sunday, September 18, the prestigious "Trachten- und Schützenzug" takes place. Imagine thousands - literally - thousands of Dirndls and Lederhosen ("Leather trousers") being carried by thousands of German - and foreign - men, women and children. They will be accompanied by traditional brass bands, and their appearantly endless stream will be headed by the "Münchner Kindl", "Munich's child" - riding a horse and wearing a large coat like Saint Martin did. In real life that person is the young daughter of one of Oktoberfest's innkeepers (which you may try to name "tent keepers" - be ready to meet loads of Germans talking English to you...whatever that means ...). On Oktoberfest's homepage you will find a concise interview with this year's child of Munich.
Last day is October 3rd. So the festival's name Oktoberfest does not actually comprehend the month. However, this year you are able to enjoy "Tag der deutschen Einheit" which is nothing less than the German national holiday - celebrating reunification after the war - by bringing out a toast in Bavarian beer. That's a special Monday at the Oktoberfest Munich.
Seats at tables in the tents are very sought after - best to make reservations in advance. This is possible by dialing directly the tents' innkeepers. The homepage has a list with the numbers, look at "Tents". There is a button "Smaller tents" as well - as they say there might be space there if the larger ones are full.
Tip of the homepage: if you have not made a reservation make an appearance in front of the tent's gates before 2.30 pm, especially if you want to join the crowd with a larger group. After that deadline entrances doors might just be shut. 'Cauze it's gonna be very full this year on "Wies'n" (in English: "Meadow"), like always. On the homepage, they have installed a diagnosis instrument to make prophecies on the expected masses of crowds which you might consult in advance when selecting your date and day of visit.
For your food and drinks you pay with "Biermarke", i.e. printed plastic currency that can only be bought in the tents. You will find impressingly detailed presentations of the many tents, stands and booths on the homepage..
Hint for "just regular" visitors to Munich. The Mittagswiesn. Some tents and boothes do a up to 30 per cent of rebate on food & beer and even entrance fees. You must come on working days however - not Saturday nor Sundays - between 10 and three o'clock. It is for the seventh time that this discount affair takes place. Watch out for the signs at tent and boothes.
For a first impression on how it's going to be like in your Lederhosen get a CD, named "Ottis Wiesn Hits 2004". A renowned tv serial actor presents the music that makes the atmosphere. You might encounter German Volksmusik which is folk music that has a very up to date touch and sound some times, but you will also find out that the music that rocks the tents is not always outdated brass music. According to this anthology "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls belongs to the all time favourites of the Oktoberfest crowd.
Whoever travels with kids must know that Oktoberfest is not only beer and breweries but what you have is also a "Fahrgeschäft", in English something like "Mobility Business" - which means buy tickets to get your kicks from diffent slick apparatuses like legendary "Olympia Loopings" which is a contraption that can cope with any Disneyland attraction considering speed and enormity. Don't forget to grab your sweater because it might get chilly at Oktoberfest especially after dark.
On the homepage, take a look at the different attrctions. Very viennoise - actually, Vienna is not that far away from Munich, consider this when planing a trip to Europe - very viennoise is the "Riesenrad" that is named Willenborg. Lining up for the grand illusion also experience history with the steps you make. At a booth called "Schichtl" according to its first proprietor's name there is a presentation of how to decapitate a human being using the guillotine - a machine that was a quite recent innovation at the time of the introduction of this "Fahrgeschäft" to Oktoberfest. The first time Oktoberfest was held by the way was in the year 1810, i.e. only a few years after Napoleon's Waterloo and the French Revolution. The occasion taken was the marriage of the Bavarian prince with the princess from Saxony. The prince as you might guess was not famous Ludowig that built those castles, that was later. That feast lasted five days. Highlight and ending were the races of the horses. The homepage has more information.
The homepage FAQs also answer essential questions in respect of details: The price of a "Maß" (for those not in the know: that's something like a pint, like a whole liter of beer served in a large glass "Krug") - this year's price of the Mass ranges between 6,65 Euro and 7,10 Euro (the year before: starting at 6,30 Euro). Which means: almost no inflationary tendency to report. Maybe this tradition of stating the price has its origin in the inflationary years of the 70ies, you might remember. Mineral water and limonade will be on sale for something like 6 Euro per liter.
Children accompanied by their parents are allowed in the tents, but must leave at 8 pm the latest if younger than 6.
Beer is available from 10 am until 10.30 pm, on Saturdays and Sundays even after 9 o'clock.
Tents are open until 10.30 p.m., but there
is "Käfer Wiesn-Schänke" und "Weinzelt"
that don't close before 1.00 am. Boothes and fairground attractions
are open between. 9/10 am and 9.30 /12.00 pm.
There are two "family days on
September 21, 2005 and
September 28, 2005, that last from noon til 6 pm.
The dates of the Munich Oktoberfest in the years to come are already set:
2006: September 16 to October 3
2007: September 22 to October 7
2008: September 20 to October 5
2009: September 9 to October 4
2010: September 18 to October 3
2011: September 17 to October 3
Last not least - take some sound samples of
real life Bavarian from the Homepage.
Under Munich Oktoberfest you can find a collection of links with further Informations about the Oktoberfest.