It’s never too soon to talk about beer festivals, and there is none greater than the Munich, Germany’s Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest 2019 is a lot sooner than you think, with the anticipated festival beginning on September 21st (and lasting 16 days) through to October 6th.
We think now is a pretty solid time to begin planning your trip to Germany for this event, so let’s brush up on some interesting facts and traditions surrounding the world’s most famous beer festival.
Ready? Set… Beer!
1. Oktoberfest is called October but starts on September.
The name “Oktober” is misleading because most of the festival happens in September…
Fun fact: The event started in 1810 and at that time it took place during one week of October. Along the years, it was extended and the starting date was changed to September because the weather is warmer and more pleasing. Therefore, it’s easier to attract more visitors to stay even longer and enjoy the beer (and festival) throughout the night.
2. Munich beer only.
Oktoberfest is, above all, a celebration of Bavarian traditions, so the only beer you’ll find during the festival is brewed within the city limits of Munich. Only beers that fit this criteria are considered Oktoberfest Beers.
Fun fact: It’s considered one of the best beers in the world and according to the Bavarian Purity Requirements there are only 3 ingredients used in the brewing process: water, barley and hops.
3. It is a 204-year-old tradition that wasn’t originally a beer festival.
The first Oktoberfest was held to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, in 1810. Now that’s what we call a wedding party!
Fun fact: The wedding party ended with a horse party.
4. They’ve cancelled it 24 times.
You can’t stop beer pouring! In 200 years, Oktoberfest has only been cancelled 24 times. The causes were mostly due to the war and cholera epidemics.
5. Vomit-proof sneakers for Oktoberfest.
With so much beer being consumed it’s obvious that some people might feel sick and end up puking… And that’s why Adidas recently released a limited edition of vomit-proof sneakers inspired by the Oktoberfest.
They’re priced at 199,95€ with “Prost” stitched on the side and surprisingly, they’re already sold out.
6. Locals call it “Wiesn”.
It’s named after the Theresienwiese, which is the name of the land where it takes place, and it’s also named after Therese, the Princess that was married there. It’s pronounced as “Vizen”.
Fun fact: The “Oide Wiesn” is a part of the festival that features more traditional elements such as music, dancing and costumes, in contrast with other parts of the festival that are dedicated to beer and partying.
7. Nobody raises their mug until the Mayor says so.
Since 1950, the festival has only started after the official gun salute and the mayor shouting O’ zapft is! (“It’s tapped!”) and offering the first mug to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. Only after that, the festival can start.
Tip: On the 21st of September of 2019 at noon, the Mayor will tap the first keg of beer and the festival will (officially) start.
8. The hairier the hat, the wealthier the wearer.
During Oktoberfest, traditional visitors wear Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte). The more tufts of goat hair on your hat, the wealthier you are considered to be.
Except nowadays the tufts are synthetic and everybody can look as wealth or as poorly as they like.
9. Beer prices start at 10.70€ / £9.50 / $12.
It’s the price of one liter of beer… Not for those looking for a low budget festival.
Tip: Beer can be bought in the tents from 10:00AM to 10:30PM on weekdays, and from 9:00AM to 10:30PM during the weekend.
10. People drank 7.5 million liters of beer in 2018!
Fun fact: In 1910, on its 100th birthday, 120,000 liters of beer were poured – that’s about 1,500 bathtubs worth of beer!
11. The beer is specially brewed for Oktoberfest and it’s extra strong.
One mug of beer here is equivalent to 8 shots of Schnapps.
They’re specially brewed for the festival and they have at least 6% alcohol.
12. As a result, it could be dangerous for some.
Around 600-800 people suffer from alcohol poisoning each year.
13. There’s an on-site Red Cross tent.
And it’s usually full! In 2018, at least 5,800 people needed medical attention.
14. There are 14 large beer hall tents.
The most famous one is Schottenhamel because it’s where the mayor taps the first keg and the biggest one is Hofbräu-Festhalle which seats almost 11,000 people.
Fun fact: The “Hacker-Festhalle” tent will have a rock band playing everyday at 5:30PM to get the party started.
15. There’s a wine tent.
Besides 15 different types of wine, there’s also champagne and sparkling wine in the Weinzelt – wine tent.
16. And food is everywhere.
There are around 140 restaurants and food stands.
Tip: Be sure to read our A to Z guide to Oktoberfest food.
17. Oktoberfest closes between 11:30PM and midnight.
Most locals head to the after-parties.
Tip: The Oktoberfest 2019 will end on the 6th of October at 11:30PM.
18. But it opens between 9:00am and 10:00am.
It’s actually family-friendly. Kind of like a state fair with more than 80 rides.
19. Despite the international appeal, it’s still a surprisingly local affair.
Only 19% of the visitors aren’t from Germany.
20. Oktoberfest is always packed and it helps the economy.
More than 6 million attend Oktoberfest annually and it employs around 13,000 people. It helps that it’s free to enter!
21. Einstein worked there.
Albert Einstein, once worked as an electrician and helped to set up one of the beer tents in 1896.
22. Oktoberfest has its very own, pop-up post office.
They send around 130,000 postcards and gifts every year.
23. Glass Steins were late to the party.
It wasn’t until 1892 that beer was served in glass mugs. They were traditionally made of stone, then they created them with metal, but now they’re mostly made of glass.
24. Beer mugs are popular souvenirs.
Guests love to take them home. In 2010, 130,000 beer mugs were confiscated and taken back to their tent owners.
Tip: The official mug is available for purchase Oktoberfest online shop and costs between 14€ and 11€, depending if you want the 1 liter or 0,5 liter mug.
25. Host at Oktoberfest.
Whoever wants to open a food stall or tent has to wait up to 20 years.
26. “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”
This can be heard all the time at the Oktoberfest. But it’s not Bavarian, it was just invented by a musician (Bernhard Dittrich of Chemnitz).
27. Church and Oktoberfest.
Sounds out of place? Well, they hold a mass every first Thursday of the Oktoberfest in the Hippodrome tent.
28. It’s a surprisingly kid-friendly zone.
The idea of bringing children to a massive beer festival might seem pretty far out, but the truth is that there are hundreds of children that attend the festival every year.
There are ferries wheel, roller coasters, games and traditional Bavarian parades.
29. “Honey, I might’ve lost the kids”.
Seems like losing your offspring is a rather common side effect of beer drinking. Fear not, however, there is a lost and found children office on the premises.
30. Lost & Found collects around 5,000 items each year.
Lost and found possessions include wheelchairs, baby carriages, passports, keys, crutches and dogs (!). And they find a pair of teeth almost every year. Wedding rings also seem to get surprisingly loose during Oktoberfest.
31. Paris Hilton is permanently banned from Oktoberfest.
She went to the event dressed in a golden and shiny Bavarian Drindl to promote a brand of canned wine. Locals got the organizers to ban her because they were offended by how she was dressed.
Ready for Oktoberfest? Search for the best flight + hotel offers to Munich!