Oktoberfest is a bit different than most festivals I cover… but it is a festival just the same. Except it’s not centered around music, or food, or art, or spirituality…. it’s centered around beer… pure and simple. Or, bier as they call it here in Bavaria. This can mean any of a few things, including drinking your bodyweight in steins (over 1L of beer each… the only size they serve), having little to no recollection of returning home, but then saving yourself by eating your bodyweight in pretzels, pork knuckles, and sausages. And then riding a roller coaster or trying your hand at shooting in the carnival games. That’s how they do it here in Munich… it’s a massive party for sure. I went to the fest with Stoke Travel, who showed me a fantastic time. (Promo code below!!) Like most other similar travel companies, Stoke has a massive campsite located at Campingplatz Obermenzing just outside the city, but unlike the others, Stoke’s camp is completely decked out and throws awesome campsite parties each night as well. I wouldn’t have had a single complaint about it if it weren’t pouring rain the entire time I was there…. but what can you do? The campsite was awesome, and the people were as well. You could always find a group of people to head into the tents with each day after a few games of beer pong, or usually find your fellow stokies at the Lowenbrau tent. It was a pretty cool setup.
(Side Note: Please excuse the subpar photos in this guide… it was raining and there was no way my Nikon was coming out with beer and rain around. My Go Pro tried, but it was low light. I did what I could :P)
Oktoberfest is held just a ten minute walk from the Hacker-Brucke stop on the S-bahn – Munich’s metro. It’s very central! It’s basically an enormously massive fairground-type open asphalt area, absolutely covered with food stalls, carnival games, carnival rides, and equally enormously massive beer tents/halls. There’s one main street with all the beer tents on either side, and it’s fully pedestrian only.
The beer tents are all named after a different German Beer – you have Augustiner, Paulaner, Lowenbrau, Hofbrau, etc… each one is a bit of a different vibe and different beer. Each one is bustling with people, has a band playing in the center, and waitresses running around like crazy carrying 4 steins in each hand. There are no bars in the beer tents, to my surprise… it’s all table service! So even if it’s packed, do your best to stand near a table and a beer lady will come up to you and take your order. These people are so impressive! You can also order food in the tents, but I’ll get to that later.
Oktoberfest really is like a huge carnival. There are loads of rides and games where you can win silly stuffed animals and prizes. I rode a roller coaster, there were a lot of spinning rides and swings and the kind where you go up to the top and drop down (for lack of having any clue what those are really called) and tons of other games. We played a shooting game and my friend won us this crazy rainbow soft stuffed animal thing. We named it Fredrick (photo below), carried it around with us all day, and let other people pet him. It was hilarious. So yes, there is more to do than drink beer! But, you usually end up in the beer halls all day anyway, especially if it’s raining!
The crowd here is absolutely international! People of course come to Oktoberfest from all corners of the earth. You can tell who the Germans are when they have nice tables reserved with heaps of fantastic food. You know who the Aussies are when they stand with one foot up on the table to skull(chug) their entire stein. And you will find absolutely anyone in between! Its really is a massive celebration.
At Stoke, they attract a largely Aussie audience, but there were honestly people from everywhere. I met some Swedes, some Argentinians, some Americans, Canadians, Kiwis, French, and Brazillians. Basically tons of nations united under the power of…. beer. Beer and being in a cold rainy campsite. It really does bring you together! 😛
The vibe throughout Oktoberfest and Stoke’s campgrounds was insanely upbeat and celebratory. Everyone was there for the same reason, which was to have a good time. Old people and young alike celebrated and sang together in the beer halls, and each morning at Stoke everyone woke up early and helped rally each other over morning beers and hot breakfast. Good vibes all around!
Everything was Bavaria-d out at the festival. Each tent was decorated a bit differently, with massive ribbons/banners or hanging plants, beer logos absolutely everywhere, and wooden cabin style buildings with pointed roofs. Pictures of people in leiderhosen and dirndl’s were everywhere, with feathered hats, long socks, and the whole nine yards! Everyone gets pretty into it 🙂
Stoke also outdid themselves in the campground. It was decorated all over with an awesome stage, a spinning wheel, and hilarious stoke quotes all over the place. My personal favorite is one of their hashtags – “If you can’t find the party, you must be the party.” This is now one of my favorite quotes. They also had a spinning wheel where you would have to do any of a few ridiculous things, like a beer bong, kiss a stokie, do a shoey, do a nudie run, or win a prize…. Stoke really does know how to party.
They had music in all the beer tents- usually there was a band at a bandstand in the middle playing classic Bavarian songs and some well known ones as well – I swear they played “Sweet Caroline” every 10 minutes. They also played that “Country Road” song quite often as well. It was amazing having the entire tent scream-singing “Sweeeeeet Caroliiiiine… BUM BUM BUM” all the time. Soooo much fun. There was also what I can only imagine to be a classic German drinking song that would play quite often, in German, to which everyone would stand up and knock their steins together in a massive cheers/prost. I think I even knew the words to it by the end – so I did learn a little bit of German 😉
There were DJ’s at the campsite parties as well, of course with a bit of a different vibe than the beer tents but awesome just the same. It was great to go back from the classic live music to come more current/dance type music at the camp!
Oktoberfest has a specific and awesome fashion – leiderhosen and dirndl’s, of course!! And to clarify, dirndl’s are the ones for women – the cute lil dresses that push your boobs up. 😛 And Leiderhosen are for the boys, the suede shorts with cute little connecting overalls that you wear over a checkered shirt with long socks. Both are generally work with little leather shoes/heels, and even a fedora with a feather if you want to go all out.
Yes, they are quite expensive… but, you gotta do it. I wasn’t so sure before I went if it was a must or not to buy the whole outfit, or if it was worth the price. But, it is. Everyone does it (well, most people), and you have more fun if you’re wearing the actual outfit. You get lots of cute photos and feel more legit. You are looking to pay at least 50 euro for a dirndl, probably more. Apparently there are some places near the train station where you can pick one up for fairly cheap. I got mine in a random store in Salzburg for 65 euro for the dirndl and 25 for the little white top you wear underneath- but this was less than half price and it fit me absolutely perfectly so I couldn’t really resist. But anyways, there are lots of places to buy them of all different qualities.
For leiderhosen, you’re looking to pay a bit more. I met travelers who spent anywhere from 100-150 euro on theirs from similar places. However, Stoke does sell dirndl’s for 70 euro and leiderhosen for 90 at the campsite – not bad prices at all!
Camping + Camping Amenities
So again, I of course camped with Stoke Travel. It was not too far from the venue (easy public transport) and the campground was really well set up, with a capacity of 2000 people. Most tents are two person tents, but you can upgrade to a single person tent for an extra 20 euro per night. They all come with air mattresses. And yes, they will put you with a random if you are traveling solo! But not to worry, one of Stoke’s quotes is ‘we used to be strangers, but now we’re just strange.” Another one I love! Everyone is super friendly and welcoming. You can also book package deals with Stoke on Festicket.
The campground has a front desk hosted by the actual campsite, which is where the wifi, general store, and bathrooms are. There actually are not lockers… they are all booked out by people who actually live on the campsite. So if you want to keep your belongings safe make sure you lock your tent! There are real bathrooms and not port-potties, which I kind of considered nice. The bathrooms are fairly well kept in a building near the front reception, and have showers, lots of mirrors, changing rooms, and stalls. Plenty of room for a girl to get ready!
Stoke itself also has a big reception tent to help check you in and find your tent, and a massive bar and food area where the campsite parties happen each night, there is a store to get your leiderhosen and dirndl’s or do washing, a phone charging station, food tickets, some sitting areas, the DJ booth (which has its own little radio station and is manned quite early each morning until 11pm or so), and, of course, the bar. If I were you, I would grab the unlimited beer and sangria deal which is 10 extra a night- it’s well worth your while for the campsite parties and pre-drinking. Oh yeah, and you can actually get that for free using my promotional phrase ‘adventuresnsunsets.’ Get on it!!
As far as food goes at the campground, you can get a hot breakfast each morning and a hot dinner each night, which are all amazing! One morning I got a yummy pancake with caramel sauce and another it was a muesli with fruit and berry sauce. It was delicious. The dinner menu is great as well and offers a bit of a departure from the Bavarian food at the fest, which I will go into below!
The blurriness of the images represent the blurriness of the day.
Now, of course, camping isn’t the only way to go to Oktoberfest. There are tons and tons of hostels and hotels in Munich, and apartments as well. I always find the best hostels on hostelworld. I’m sure hostels have a great vibe and would be easy to find friends to go with, but of course when you wake up each morning at a campsite full of happy people ready to celebrate, it’s a bit of a better vibe!
As far as the transport in Munich goes, the busses and metro (the S-Bahn) are super easy to navigate. People in Munich actually don’t seem to often actually pay for their public transport – I didn’t pay for the bus once (you take a few stops on a bus and a few stops on the Metro from the campground- the bus stops right outside!) and on the metro you don’t have to scan a ticket or anything on the way, but if you accidentally hop on a train that they’re checking tickets you’ll get fined 60 euro. Just be careful!!
The metro in Munich is interesting – all 8 ’S’ trains have the same middle 10 stops, and branch out from there. So, if you’re traveling through the city center, you can literally hope on any train and must just make sure it is traveling in the right direction. Convenient!
The second reason people come to Oktoberfest…. BAVARIAN FOOD! Pork Knuckles for days, Currywurst on every corner, pretzels all over the place. Prepare yourself, because if you come to Oktoberfest you pretty much have to indulge in the Bavarian food. You can get nicely prepared platters in the tents if you are fancy (I never did, so I am not sure how to go about it – not fancy enough) but all the stands and tents inside the venue sell hot, fast food. There are all kinds of German sausages (bratwurst, cheese kransky, debreziner, frankfurters, you name it), pork knuckles in all different forms (as a sandwich, on a plate…) so many pretzels, schnitzels, sauerkraut and spatzle for days. Try a bit of everything! You need to sober up somehow after all the steins! 😉
As far as drink goes…. big surprise… BEER! The steins in the tents will go for about 10.60 euro, and like I said above, it’s all table service (no bars) so you gotta order from the servers who are surprisingly effective at coming around, taking everyone’s orders, and carrying lots of heavy steins at once.
If you didn’t already know, Oktoberfest is FREE! It’s the largest public festival in the world. You can just waltz on in, as many days as you like. I don’t recommend too many though ;).
As far as the Stoke Camp goes, it’s 60 Euro a night for everything! And remember you can get the beer and sangria for free using my promtional phrase ‘ADVENTURESNSUNSETS’ 🙂 You’re welcome.
There are about 30 of these standing under the entrance, and that’s about it.
There are about 30 police standing at the entrance of Oktoberfest, although I’m not entirely sure what they are all doing. They just look around and maintain the order, I suppose. Don’t try and bring your own beers in or anything, because they may check your bag. But unless you’re being a total drunk idiot (which I suppose is quite possible) you will be fine. Oh, and they also check your bags when you enter the beer tents. So like, don’t bring a bomb in or anything. They’re probably just checking you don’t bring in your own alcohol or anything ridiculous.
This is Fredrick and his little brother Ricky. (I’m talking about the stuffed animals obviously. We won them in a shooting game!)
PREPARE FOR THE WORST. This is “Oktoberfest’ and it basically signifies the end of European summer. I was coming off and entire summer in Croatia and did not have enough warm clothes for the amount it rained while I was at Oktoberfest. I have never witnessed such continuous rain. It did put a ‘damper’ (literally and figuratively, lol) on things at the campsite, but it honestly brought us all together- all of us wet, cold, little Stokies hiding out in our tents. It didn’t stop us at all though – we just got out our umbrellas, purchased ponchos, and went straight to the beer tents. No biggie. It did stop on my fourth day in Munich, but I was leaving. Bummer. I don’t think the weather is always this bad, but it just goes to show that it can definitely be bad! Just bring warm clothes.
I was quite worried about the bathroom situation at Oktoberfest – with thousands of people in one place drinking copious amounts of beer and all. It’s hard not to break the seal when you have had 2 liters of beer… However, the toilet situation was surprisingly effective. There were lots of toilets in each tent and in the festival grounds, and the lines moved quickly due to the hardworking people in the restrooms. I was there opening weekend, and the toilet lines was a bit slower on Saturday and Sunday due to the absurd amount of people. It wasn’t optimal to take 20 minutes to use the toilet, but it was the reality. Go on weekdays or any other weekend and it will be much better.
Especially on opening weekend there will be lines to get into the tents, so make sure to get there early or prepare to wait. On the first day the tents open at noon, but people queue up all day to get a spot. On weekends people get to the tents as early as 7 or 730, so this is absolutely a morning/daytime event! You can still do carnival rides and games at night, but generally the tents will close in the evening and everyone can go home or move onto campsite parties or go to bars in the city.
Reserving Tables – As far as tables go, you can reserve them up to months in advance. It’s quite crazy really. But, if you go on a less crowded day it’s usually pretty easy to find one at least for a little while. If you are there opening weekend or any other busy time, you can just head into the tents and find a place to stand around near the stage or near other tables and you can still have your order taken. Just make friends!
Carrying Your Stuff – I brought a fanny pack/bum bag in the first day and wore a poncho to protect from the rain. But, I was honestly happier with a purse and an umbrella and cardigan the next day. If it’s raining, I would bring an umbrella. Ponchos keep you warm but they’re a huge nuisance! Boys usually just kept everything in their pockets as usual.
Venture out of the Beer Halls -Try to do more than just drink in the beer halls, really! Try the food, do some rides and games… Stoke even helps organize walking tours of the city too. It’s always good to actually see the city you’re visiting, right?! Spend some time in the city center, there’s a lot to see!
This was my first time traveling with Stoke, but I soon found out that they do tons of other tours, festivals, and global parties as well. Here are a few more of the things they do, which I will be trying out next year:
- La Tomatina
- Barcelona Boat Parties / 4th of July Boat Party /
- San Vino Wine Fight
- France & Spain Van Surfari
- Greece Spring Break
- Morocco Surf Trips
- Portugal Surf Camp
- Sziget Festival Budapest
- Ibiza Hippie Camp
- Royal Ascot
- Running of the Bulls (from Madrid, Barcelona, San Seb, etc)
- Island Beats sailing tour of Croatia/Sonus Festival with Beats Travel
- Austria Snow Weekend
And much much more! My promo code should work for most of these tours – check them out 🙂