Beer, Pretzels and Lederhosen – a guide to Oktoberfest for non-Germans

From a non-German point of view Oktoberfest is a funny festival. The usually serious people dress up in traditional leather trousers and long dresses and decide to spend their time in overcrowded venues doing nothing but drinking beer, eating dishes that every doctor would frown upon, singing songs they normally wouldn’t confess to and dancing on the tables. To make things worse, this party is not just limited to the legendary Munich Oktoberfest – it spreads all over Germany, Switzerland, Austria and German-speaking communities around the world. As the leading serviced apartments provider on the German market, we know a lot about Oktoberfest. VISIONAPARTMENTS regularly experiences increased occupancy during the festive days and our Local Office employees answer more questions from guests about the celebrations. We prepared for you some not that well-known facts about Oktoberfest that will help you understand this peculiar tradition a little bit more or… make it seem even weirder.

First time closed in Munich

The authorities of Munich decided that this year the Oktoberfest area (Theresienwiese) will be closed and surrounded by a fence. There will be nine entrances where security checks will be performed, and the Fest can only be entered through these entrances. Should the police notice that the Oktoberfest is overcrowded they can close the entrances. It’s the first case in the 200 years old tradition of Oktoberfest in Munich that it will be closed due to security reasons. The festival area can be reached from VISIONAPARTMENTS in Munich in 10 minutes by car and 15 by public transport.

It’s actually a Septemberfest

The festival traditionally begins in the second half of September and lasts for 16 days. To be precise, it involves October only slightly – this year it ends on October 3rd. So it should actually be called Septemberfest.

Appetizing Bavarian roast pork knuckle with dumplings and pretzel

Traditional snacks

The Oktoberfest feast wouldn’t be complete without traditional German food. A must-try is the classic Wiesn-Hendl (grilled chicken) or Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock). Both are usually served with a heap of traditional sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. If you finish your plate, you probably won’t be hungry for the rest of the day. However, it doesn’t exempt you form eating the dessert because Oktoberfest is all about feasting. The sweet options are heart-shaped gingerbreads with different inscriptions written with colorful icing. They look delicious, but before you bite into them, be careful – they are hard as rocks. If you crave something soft, warm and fluffy, go for Garmknödel – a big dumpling filled with jam and served with warm vanilla sauce or melted butter. The world famous Bavarian snack is obviously the Brezel (pretzel) – a baked bread shaped into a twisted knot. It’s very salty but you’ll have enough beer to rinse it down.

The Oktoberfest Trachten

“Tracht” means outfit in German and during Oktoberfest the dress code is far from causal and plays an important role. Germans are eager to follow the convention and put on the traditional garments. You would be surprised how easy it is to buy them before Oktoberfest – they are available even in the supermarkets. For women, the traditional outfit includes the traditional Drindl (dress) with a pinafore that should fall down below mid-calf and generally don’t expose too much –  all the fancy variations indicate that you are a tourist who doesn’t pay attention to the German tradition. The menswear consists of Lederhosen (leather trousers) with suspenders and a checkered or plain shirt. Again, it’s important that the trousers fully cover the knees while sitting, otherwise you might become a laughing stock of your fellows. Remember that Oktoberfest is very crowded and without a reservation there are no chances of finding a free place at the table, especially if you plan to go in a big group of people who want to sit together. Reserve a place at the tent of your choice and show up on time, otherwise the reservation will be gone and your place given to others.  Prepare yourself in advance and have fun!

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