It’s time for leather pants! We’re planning our annual Oktoberfest outing and it’s all about lederhosen, crowds, Bavarian hospitality and, of course, beer.
Oktoberfest, celebrated confusingly mostly in September, is an annual festival like no other. Founded in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of King Louis I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (that name must have been boring to put into shape), the celebration has kind of taken off. By the mid-1800s, it was an annual affair and continued, sometimes literally (the Nazis were big fans), and continued to grow and improve. Today, more than 6 million people visit Oktoberfest and almost 7 million liters of beer are poured.
If you’re planning on being one of them, here are some tips on Oktoberfest (known as Wies’n, if you’re a local).
Getting to Munich during Oktoberfest is going to be a bit of a Mary and Joseph experience if you don’t plan this thing properly. Like all of these things, expect everyone in town to raise their prices just in time for your arrival. But fear not, there will always be options for all budgets as long as you plan ahead.
Options include camping (to give you an idea of ââbudgets, expect to pay at least â¬ 50 per night for even camping), in which case take a look at this all-inclusive option. Hostels are more expensive, and you might just find yourself sharing a room with strangers for the not-so-easy $ 100 a night. Airbnb is still a solid option if that’s okay with you. But obviously, being The Handbook, we leave our tent stakes in England and settle in for a night at the Mandarin Oriental in Munich.
The Mandarin Oriental offers guests its Celebrate Oktoberfest package, which includes one of the most beautiful rooms in town, as well as Bavarian gourmet treats, an exclusive vintage bus ride from the hotel to the event, and (and we’ll talk about that later, but that’s good) access to the famous SchÃ¼tzen-Festzelt tent. The package is available throughout the Oktoberfest period from September 22 to October 7, 2018. It’s not cheap, at â¬ 880 per night, but when you start stacking up alternative costs it can start to seem more economical and definitely more fun.
Or: Mandarin Oriental, Munich, NeuturmstraÃe 1, 80331, Munich, Germany
The dirndl, a traditional German dress, somehow transforms even the most modest breasts into a centrally-distributed Nuts magazine. The push up bra, peasant dress combo may be one of the racy national dresses on the world stage (look at Saudi Arabia), but the Rolfs and Helmuts in attendance might want to look away. , especially towards the size of their fraulin. The apron is, in fact, the most revealing item of clothing.
So a quick style guide to the German equivalent of Tinderâ¦ The aprons tied with the bow on the left side mean the lady is single (in traffic light holiday parlance she’s green), so l bow is on the right, so she is taken or married. If the bow is tied to the back then she is either a waitress or a widow (German funeral vigils could be potentially disastrous places to order drinks) and finally if the bow is tied to her front she claims to be a virgin. Confused?
None of it matters because, gentlemen, you won’t. Mainly because the Germans have used all the sexy on women’s outfits, while the men, on the other hand, wear lederhosen (leather pants). Lederhosen is a hideous leather shorts / dungaree combo that has the only dubious appeal of being washable, but otherwise just makes the wearer look like a toddler blacksmith.
But the rules are the rules and you’ll want to show up wearing at least one variation of this weird outfit. And the best place to go is the Bavarian outfitter in Munich. They will equip you and if you order in advance, they will even drop off your authentic outfit at your hotel.
Or: Bavarian Outfitters, Auenstrasse 31, 80469, Munich, Germany
The main Oktoberfest site, the Theresienwiese, is filled with tents. You’ll want to step into one of these tents to attend Oktoberfest âproperlyâ. Inside you will find beer and long, beer-drinking trestle tables. See also ‘sausage’ / wurst.
If you thought exclusivity and nightclub was a thing in London, then think again. Getting into some of the smartest tents can be a real struggle without a connection. For those considered “the best”, you might find yourself having to write a handwritten letter (in German) or, worse, fax (yes, fax! I had to put a fax line specifically for this purpose when booking ) and if you manage to get a table slot (you tend to book for a period (like evening or afternoon)), you need to send a check (!) or arrange an international transfer.
Fortunately, many tents are more modern and accept bookings online, although there seems to be an overall Luddite feel to the process in all but a few cases.
But with 14 large tents and 20 small tents to choose from, with a little bit of anticipation you should be able to arrange entry for at least one tent. Ideally, organize something like a crawl, but don’t despair if you’re not having fun, because there are millions of party-goers who also don’t get their shit on time and there won’t be any. shortage of beer, sausage and pickles far from the main tents.
You’ve found a place to stay, you’ve slipped on a dirndl, carefully tying your bow to draw or abseil, and you’ve got tickets for a tent. I’m just checking, do you know anything about beer?
No, me neither. Fortunately, a thorough knowledge of the types and varieties of beer is not necessary. This isn’t a craft beer store situation when you’re wondering because your choice is limited to half a dozen breweries.
Oktoberfest beer, traditionally 2% stronger than regular beer, must come from one of six local breweries. Their beer must comply with Bavarian beer purity laws and be brewed within the city limits of Munich to be served at Oktoberfest. Breweries that can produce it are: Augustiner-BrÃ¤u, Hacker-Pschorr-BrÃ¤u, LÃ¶wenbrÃ¤u, Paulaner, SpatenbrÃ¤u and Staatliches HofbrÃ¤u-MÃ¼nchen.
Last board of the map: how to get there. Fortunately Munich has an international airport and it is a short easyJet from Luton, Stansted and Gatwick. Or why not get creative? Driving gives you a trans-European roadtrip in the deal (Dover to Calais with DFDS is remarkably reasonable).
Once there, Munich has, as you would expect from Germany, a very efficient network of buses, metro and trams.
If you can’t make it to Oktoberfest, there’s almost certainly a counterfeit version near you. London doesn’t just have a huge Canary Wharf festival, expect restaurants and bars to join in the action as September progresses. This means that you can taste German magic without half the effort. But then, compared to reality, what pleasure would that be?