10 Reasons to Go to Oktoberfest Munich

I am going to Oktoberfest in Munich for the 4th time in my life in less than a month. I am so excited about it that I decided to share some of that excitement with you.

If you like beer and you like to travel (or want to travel), you should probably put this one on your bucket list. The original Oktoberfest on the Theresienwiese in Munich, Germany, is unbeatable by any replica Oktoberfest (although I do appreciate the festival every year in Leavenworth, Washington).

Here are ten reasons to go to the REAL Oktoberfest in Germany:

Ten fun facts about Oktoberfest in Munich

These will make you want to go and see what the fun is all about for yourself!

      1. Oktoberfest beer steins
        Believe it.
        It is a 16-day festival celebrating BEER. Enough said or shall I continue?
      2. It is the world’s largest fair, with over 6 million people attending every year.
      3. Beer must be at least 6% alcohol by volume and brewed within the city limits of Munich to be allowed at Oktoberfest. Only the following breweries can create Oktoberfest beer: Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner-Bräu, Spatenbräu, and Staatliches Hofbräu-München.
      4. Oktoberfest started in 1810 with a royal wedding and a horse race. The yearly tradition came from the idea to have an annual horse race, which continued until 1960, which is also when Oktoberfest became an enormous world-famous festival.
      5. About 72% of the attendees are Bavarians. Contrary to popular belief- Oktoberfest is still a German thing!
        Oktoberfest meal
        I still dream about this meal
      6. FOOD: Hendl (chicken), Schweinebraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick- yes!), Würstl (sausages), Brezeln (pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Käsespätzle (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Rotkohl/Blaukraut (red cabbage), Obatzda (spiced cheese-butter spread), and Weisswurst (white sausage).
      7. It was originally held in October but was pushed up to September for better weather.
      8. A stein of beer costs about 8.50 euros, plus tip.
      9. Hofbrau tent
        Hofbräu Tent
        Young people who consume too much alcohol and pass out (remember it’s at least 6%)  are known as Bierleichen (beer corpses). Yes, they actually have a name for that. Come to think of it, I’ve known a few of those) Moms out there- don’t worry, they also staff 100 members of volunteer medics and doctors every day (that was a bonus fact).
      10. In 2006, 220,000 stolen beer steins were confiscated by security. (Yes, you get a fine- don’t steal them, they are available for purchase! Just keep your receipt for proof…)
      11. Bonus Fact: Lederhosen (the leather shorts with suspenders) is what men wear, and dirndl (the dress) is what women wear. If your dirndl is above the knee, it means you are single. If it is below the knee, you are taken. If you see a girl in lederhosen, it’s not traditional but for some reason is becoming a rebel trend.

 

Oktoberfest has sing-a-longs. (You don’t know how hard it is to hold still during this song!)


 

Did I mention there is singing involved?


Those people don’t look like they’re having any fun at all.
 

Warning: Oktoberfest is Addictive

I first went to Oktoberfest in 2008 with my brother on a five-week backpacking trip through Europe. I moved back to Italy in 2009 and of course, we (my brother included) went to Oktoberfest again that year accompanied by my husband Nate, and two friends. In 2010 I found myself in Europe on a sort of last-minute assignment, and guess what? We had a meeting in Munich. During Oktoberfest. That made three years in a row that I got to be in Munich for Oktoberfest, and I was definitely hooked. In both 2011 and 2012 (since I couldn’t keep going to Europe every year), my brother, Nate, and one of my best friends and I road-tripped from Montana to Leavenworth, Washington to celebrate Oktoberfest there. Leavenworth is a great little Bavarian town in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, and if you didn’t know better you would think you were right there in Bavaria. German restaurants, street names, lederhosen and all (but of course we knew better).

Related: When a Eurail Pass is Worth It and When It Isn’t

Oktoberfest friends
New friends at Oktoberfest 2008
beer and pretzel
Indulging in the yumminess of Oktoberfest
hofbrau tent
Roomies from Rome with my brother and Nate and I in 2009
Leavenworth Oktoberfest
Leavenworth Oktoberfest 2011

This year, I will once again be going with my brother and husband, making it their third and second times in Munich, respectively. We will happily sing the songs we’ve learned over the years, drink delicious Oktoberfest beer, eat delicious Bavarian food, meet new friends from all over the world, collect pins from past years that we attended, ride the ferris wheel at night (the best time to do it), and proudly sport our own lederhosen and dirndl, all the while continuing to be part of the plain old fun tradition of Oktoberfest. It’s just something we do, and it is definitely something to be experienced. Perhaps if you make it (or have made it) to Oktoberfest Munich, you can share your story here. What is the craze about for you?