Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is an up-all-night, bratwurst-consuming, pretzel-dismantling, beer-drinking revelry that takes place in 14 tents that fit approximately 10,000 people apiece.
Around 80% of the 6 million people who attend the 16-day celebration are Germans (who’ve secured table reservations 9 months in advance), which leaves tourists/travelers/guest-partiers with the unreserved tables surrounding the band.
Securing a slot in one of the tents is no small feat, but if you go on a weekday, if you’re only traveling with a friend or two, if you show up before 4:00 p.m., and if you don’t mind a little rejection in the pursuit of making new friends, then you might brush up on your Bon Jovi and Neil Diamond, buy some lederhosen (ladies wear a dirndl), and book a flight for Oktoberfest 2020 (September 19 to October 4).
Here’s a short video of our experience:
How do you get to Oktoberfest?
If you’re lucky, there’s a direct flight from your desired airport to Munich. Los Angeles has a daily non-stop flight, so we flew LAX-MUC.
There are 6 million people who go to Oktoberfest in Munich. Use Google Maps. Follow the crowd. You’ll find the Oktoberfest fairgrounds and the 14 tents, which are located on the Theresienwiese, near Munich City Centre.
Book your hotel early. They fill up fast, and the hotel rates rise accordingly. Also, while you pay a premium for a hotel near the venue, it may be worth it . . . depending on how much you choose to drink. The Aloft Munich and the Le Meridien Munich are good options.
You don’t need to pay for a tour. Navigating the Oktoberfest fairgrounds is not nearly as difficult as the tour operators make it sound.
You can buy lederhosen (what men wear) on Amazon or in Munich. (There are lots of shops selling lederhosen and dirndls near the Theresienwiese, the big field where the Oktoberfest fairgrounds are located. There are quite a few shops near the Aloft Munich hotel. The prices for lederhosen in Munich were lower than we paid on Amazon.)
You can buy a dirndl (what women wear) on Amazon or in Munich.
When is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest 2020 will be from September 19 to October 4. Go on a weekday. Trust me; there are plenty of people on the weekdays.
Oktoberfest Table Reservations
As a foreigner, you’re unlikely to secure a table reservation. (If only 2-3 of you are traveling, you should be fine. If there are 10 of you, that’s difficult, and in that case you may want to pay top dollar to secure a table reservation. You’ll find extortionists online willing to accept money for your table investment.)
Where are the unreserved tables at Oktoberfest?
The unreserved tables are typically in the middle, surrounding the band.
How much money do I need for Oktoberfest?
The answer has a bit to do with how much you plan to eat and drink. Each liter of beer should run around 11 euros, or $13. Food is reasonably priced, especially the bratwurst, chicken, and pretzels. Bring cash. Paying for your beer with a credit card, while likely possible, seems like a major inconvenience given the frenetic atmosphere. Also, tip your server generously. She may be more protective of your spot at the table if she wants you to return.
Sometimes you get dressed up, travel a fair distance to attend a party, spend a bit of money, and get disappointed. Oktoberfest, fortunately, did not disappoint. It was a bucket-list item that has technically been crossed off, but I may go again next year.
As always, if you have any questions, please comment below, or feel free to contact me.