Oktoberfest, also known as Munich's beer fest in parts of the world, is actually mostly in September - you've figured that out already. The reason for that is historic, and quite romantic. And have you ever wondered why you are not being served anything alcoholic in the beer halls and tents on the Theresienwiese on the opening day before 12 o'clock noon? Find out the reason and read about the ritual that every mayor of Munich takes very seriously. Also: facts, figures, opening hours and other useful information.
Do I need tickets for the Oktoberfest?
No. Everyone can access the fairgrounds close to Munich's city center during the opening hours. However, the tents may fill up quickly and will restrict entrance upon reaching their maximum capacity. Especially in the evenings and on weekends, the Oktoberfest tends to be busier than during weekday mornings and afternoons.
There is one exception to the no entrance fee rule, however. The "Oide Wiesn", the historic part of the Oktoberfest, is in a separate location on the fairgrounds and will charge an entrance fee of 4 Euros. The atmosphere is entirely different in this historic part of the "Wiesn", it is much smaller and quieter. The nostalgic rides there will only cost 1 € each.
When does the Oktoberfest start?
The Oktoberfest will begin on September 17, 2022 at noon. The beer tents, however, will open at 9 am, soft drinks will be served starting at 10 am. The last day will be October 3, which is a public holiday in Germany.
Is there something special going on for the opening?
Yes. Munich's mayor Dieter Reiter will tap the first barrel of beer in the Schottenhamel tent at exactly 12 pm. Usually many politicians from Bavaria and even from other parts of the country will be in attendance. Only when the first barrel is tapped will the other brewers and hosts start serving their specially made Oktoberfest beer in all the other tents. (How to make reservations in a beer tent? Have a look here.) As it is almost impossible to sit front and center in this tent, the tapping will be broadcast on television. After the tapping of the first barrel, Reiter will say the words "O'zapft is. Auf eine friedliche Wiesn" (The tabs are open. To a peaceful Wiesn.) Apart from the opening day, there will be several traditional events during the two weeks of the festivities, for example the parade of the brewers, the procession of tradesmen and tradeswomen in their uniforms and a concert under the Bavaria statue.
Where is the Theresienwiese located?
Theresienwiese is an enormous fairground in Munich, southwest of the downtown area. It is by far the largest square in Munich and sees many different festivals throughout the year. The name of the fairground is also the reason for the more common name for the Oktoberfest, Wiesn. It used to be a huge green.
How do I get to the Oktoberfest?
If you let online maps find your way, simply type in "Theresienwiese" and you will find your way. Do not even think about coming by car as finding a parking spot in the vicinity of the Theresienwiese is almost impossible. Your best bet is public transportation. There are several ways to get to one of the entrances of the Oktoberfest, either by tram or subway. The closest stops are "Theresienwiese" (U4/U5), "Goetheplatz", "Poccistraße" "Schwanthalerhöhe" and "Hackerbrücke". From there it's easy: you just follow all the others who make their way to the beloved "Wiesn".
Where should I look for accommodations?
Your best bet for a bed is either close to the Theresienwiese, in the city center - or anywhere along the tram and subway lines that take you to any of the stops close to the Oktoberfest location. You can find a map of Munich's public transportation lines here.
- "Theresienwiese" and "Schwanthalerhöhe" are along U4/U5
- "Goetheplatz" via U3/U6
- "Hackerbrücke" via all suburban trains (S-Bahn) and tram lines 16 and 17
What's the history of the Oktoberfest?
When Prince Regent Ludwig of Bavaria, later King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, the young couple wanted their people to celebrate the happy occasion with them. Andreas Michael Dall'Armi of the Bavarian National Guard suggested a new way to party: a horse race. That was to be held on a big open space slightly outside the city, that was later named after the bride: "Theresienwiese". As the wedding took place on October 12, 1810 and the race five days later, the original party happened in October - thus the name "Oktoberfest".
Why is the Oktoberfest in September these days?
The wedding party in 1810 was very well received amongst the people and was therefore repeated and extended. One of the reasons to move the festivities into September was the weather: very often the weather in Munich is mild and sunny in late summer - whereas October may sometimes see the first snow.
What are the opening hours for the beer tents?
Apart from the first Saturday the hours are as follows: The large beer halls are open from 10 am to 11.30 pm during the week. Last call is shortly before 10:30 pm when the bar will close and the music will stop playing for the day. At the weekends and on October 3, a public holiday in Germany, the tents will open their doors an hour earlier, at 9 am. There are two exceptions: Käfer Wiesn-Schänke and Kuffler's Weinzelt are opened until 1 am and will serve beverages until 12.30 am.
The smaller tents open their doors at 10 am and close at 11.30 pm. Last call is half an hour earlier. The historic tents at "Oide Wiesn" are open between 10 am and 10.30 pm, they will stop serving beverages at 9.30 pm.
Opening hours for the rides
On the opening day the rides open at 12 noon and close at midnight. The opening hours for the other days are as follows:
- Sunday through Thursday: 10 am to 11.30 pm
- Friday, Saturday and October 2: 9 am to midnight
Is smoking allowed in the tents?
Smoking is not allowed in enclosed areas in Germany, that includes the beer halls and tents at the Oktoberfest. If you want to smoke cigarettes, pipes or vape, you can go to the designated smoking areas outside of the tents. Just make sure you can get back inside after your little break, especially when the tents are filled to the brim.
Surely, I can pay by credit card?
In most beer halls, tents and rides you will have to have cash to pay. There are several ATMs on the ground, many of the major tents will have them.
Pets, purses and prams on location
No large bags and suitcases are allowed on the Oktoberfest grounds. Purses and backpacks can be no larger than 20x15x10 centimeters (about 8x6x4 inches) or three litres in volume. Prams and strollers are allowed until 6 pm from Sunday to Friday, they cannot be brought on Saturdays and October 3, a public holiday in Germany. Everything that is too large to pass security at the entrance checks can be stored for a fee. Pets, except for service animals, are not allowed on the fairgrounds for their own safety.
These items are prohibited
Whether you come with a large or a small bag - there are some items that cannot be brought to the fairgrounds: spray cans, objects that can be used as weapons and glass bottles. Umbrellas are allowed (and sometimes necessary), walking aids and other medical necessities as well.
Can I bring my own drinks?
In the tents and beer halls: No way! The brewers want to sell their beer and other drinks. If you bring your water bottle while walking the grounds, you are fine.
Can I take home my beer steins?
The steins are the property of the breweries. And even if you think that a "Mass Bier" is expensive enough to allow you to take it home - you better don't. It's kind of hard to hide and if you are caught, you may get in closer contact with the German police than you wish for.
Will there be restrictions because of Covid-19?
Munich had to go two years without the traditional Oktoberfest due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. In April, Munich's mayor Dieter Reiter gave the green light for this year's festivities without any restrictions whatsoever. Doctors don't necessarily agree with a two-week party of this size and recommend vaccinated visitors to get a booster shot before coming to the Oktoberfest.
Is there a dress code at the Oktoberfest?
There is no dress code at the Oktoberfest, everybody is welcome no matter the clothes. However, there are many people from Bavaria and abroad who will wear traditional clothes: Dirndl for women and leather pants for men. If you wish to dress in traditional garb, there are many shops in Munich that will have just the right outfit - but be prepared to pay a couple of hundreds of Euros when you decide to go all in and get the real thing.
What's the "Oide Wiesn"?
"Oide Wiesn" is separate from the "big" Oktoberfest, but on the same fairground. For the 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest in 2010, the city of Munich had planned a unique event with historic rides and traditional beer tents that served dark beer brewed according to a historic receipt and served in the traditional steins. Visitors liked this trip into the past so much that the nostalgia returns every year now except for the years when the Bavarian Agricultural Festival ("Bayerisches Landwirtschaftsfest") is held. This is the only part where an admission fee has to be paid (4 euros for people 14 and older), but the historic rides are only 1 euro each.
The most important words for your visit
- Servus: friendly greeting, can mean both "hello" and "goodbye"
- Wiesn: the location of the Oktoberfest, synonymous with the party itself
- Mass Bier: a stein of beer, one litre
- Radlmass: a mixture of beer and soda, also served in a stein
- Halbes Hendl: half a roasted chicken, usually served with potato salad or bread
- Schweinshax'n mit Knödel: roasted pork knuckle served with potato dumplings
- Dirndl: traditional dress for women with a special cotton or lace blouse and an apron
- Lederhos'n: buckskin pants for men that are either short or bound underneath the knee. Traditionally they are worn with cotton or linen shirts.