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A Brief History

Beer drinking Bavarian Men at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest was first held in 1810 as a celebration of marriage

Oktoberfest was first held on October 12, 1810, when the entire town was invited to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. The festival took place in the fields outside the city gates, which were later renamed Theresienwiese in honor of Princess Therese. The party turned out to be so popular that the king continued the celebration the following year, and the rest is history.

Oktoberfest Today

Friends with giant pretzel and beers during Oktoberfest
Visitors can sample traditional pretzels and beer during Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a 16-day extravaganza where more than 6 million people come together to drink more than 60000 hectoliters of beer. The largest attraction of the fest is its breweries who serve food and beer in 14 tents. But that’s not all that the festival has on offer. It also presents all kinds of beer tasting contests, roller coasters, yodeling contests, carnival rides and more. Oktoberfest is a celebration of the German culture and you’re sure to have a blast watching all those people drink, sing and have fun in their traditional dresses.

The Venue

Oktoberfest in Munich, insider's guide
A night view of the Theresienwiese ground where Oktoberfest is held each year.

Oktoberfest is held at the Theresienwiese ground in Munich, which serves as the official ground for Munich Oktoberfest. The ground covers an area of 420000 sq. ft., and you can expect just about every inch to be covered with beer during the festival. Entrance is free for all visitors however, you may find queues for security checks.  

To the south end of the Theresienwiese, you will find Oide Wiesn (Old Oktoberfest) where you can witness the historic attractions that commemorate the roots of the festival. It is an extension of the regular Oktoberfest that began in 2010.



The Dates

Oktoberfest starts in the month of September and ends on the first Sunday of October or on October 4. This year, Oktoberfest 2020 runs from September 19 to October 4.

How Much Time to Spend in Oktoberfest?

If you’re visiting Munich to become a part of this festival, a couple of days are usually more than enough. After all, there is only so much beer you can consume!

What to Wear?

A family wearing the traditional Bavarian outfit
Family wearing the traditional Bavarian costumes at the annual Oktoberfest in Munich

You simply cannot become a part of Oktoberfest without donning its semi-official attire, a traditional Bavarian outfit. Men usually wear bandanas, shirts, lederhosen, suspenders, shoes and a hat. Women are traditionally dressed in a blouse, ribbon necklace, dirndl and apron.

Choosing Your Tent

Hippodrom Beer Tent
Crowds in the Hippodrom beer tent on the Theresienwiese fair grounds during Oktoberfest

As you’re probably aware, Oktoberfest is all about its gala tents. There are 14 different beer tents at the venue, and each tent can seat between 4000 to 11000 people. Every tent is unique in terms of the décor, the music and the type of food served, so choose wisely.

  • Hippodrom: Small in size but huge in its reputation. Seating about 4000 people, this is one of the first tents you come across. Hippodrom is incredibly popular among singletons and it even serves sparkling wine.
  • Paulanerbrau Zelt: The Paulanerbrau Zelt can be marked by the humongous beer tankard rotating on top of its tower. The tent is famous for its comfy atmosphere and regulars, including FC Bayern Munich players.
  • Augustiner-Festhelle: A major favorite among locals, this Augusinter Brewery tent is considered to be the friendliest of all. The tent is known for its warm and cosy experience and the fact that the beer is still served in traditional wooden kegs.
  • Pschorrbrau-Festhalle: This particular beer tent is incredibly popular as it hosts its own female yodeler and is also the meeting place for the gay community on the first Sunday of Oktoberfest.
  • Scottenhamel-Festhalle: The most traditional and oldest tent of Oktoberfest is where the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg of beer. The tent mostly attracts students and is a popular meeting place for young adults.
  • Schutzen-Festhalle: Schutzen-Festhalle can accommodate just 700 people, but this is where the traditional shooting competition of Oktoberfest is held. And Schützenzelt feels cozy even on a cool day as its garden is protected against the wind.
  • Hacker-Festzelt: A tent unlike any other thanks to the stunning decors and rock n roll music.
  • Hofbrau-Festzelt: Popular among overseas travelers due to its affiliation with Hofbrauhaus, the best beer hall in Munich, this is one of the few tents that has standing room inside.
  • Armbrustschuten-Festhalle: Dressed to resemble the stunning Alpine foothills, this is the hall that hosts those famous German crossbow championships each year.
  • Lowenbrau-Festhelle: Popular among South Africans, New Zealanders and Australians, the huge lion statue guarding the tent’s door makes it hard to miss.
  • And remember, there’s a Weinzelt as well, where they serve as many as 15 varieties of red and white wines from all over Germany. The tent looks very different from its neighbors as it features u-shaped booths that make it resemble a Franconian wine garden.


Budgeting for Oktoberfest 2020

Here is a short breakdown of the typical costs associated with Oktoberfest. So plan wisely!

  • Entry: Free
  • Rides: Traditional museums and rides such as the Krinoline or the Witch’s Swing charge €3.
  • Sightseeing: Entering the Historical Wiesn grounds costs €3.
  • Beer: A 1-liter beer stein costs €10.
  • Food: Authentic German meals in the tents cost between €12 to €20. But you can always find more affordable meals outside the tents.
  • An entire day can cost about €100. This should usually get you a couple of meals and 2 to 3 beers.

Miscellaneous Tips for Oktoberfest 2020

  • Weekdays are usually quieter, and a better time to attend the fest. Tents start filling up around 02.30 PM.
  • You can book a table if you’re planning to go with friends and spend about €300.
  • Oktoberfest beer is usually stronger than normal beer.
  • Always tip your waitress.
  • Beer mugs are not souvenirs. Don’t forget to return them to the breweries.

So here’s to a gala time. Prost!

Published by Erik Jensen, updated on December 1, 2022

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