What do you get when you take 60 students to Oktoberfest for the weekend? An unforgettable experience that will likely be told to many friends for a long time! I was one of the fortunate few to experience the opening weekend of Oktoberfest. Apart from the beers and the friends that you are likely to make, here are some hints for the first-time festivallers:
1. Get the EARLY! Yes I mean 0700hours. So early your eyes ache and your body hates you. Lines for tents are already 200m long at this time of the morning (so you will still line-up) but you will certainly get into whichever tent you would like to get into.
2. Unless you are a 200kg rugby player that can elbow everybody in a massive mosh, aim for a tent that has security and therefore some order (read: you will still get pushed around and stepped on, but you won’t get beaten to the ground).
3. The line-up and wait phase will last until around 0900hours, where you will finally get let in. In my case, I was pushed in and trodden on, so be careful to try and hold your footing (as well as avoid any discarded bottles and glass on the floor).
4. Beer does not get served until around 1200hours. Yes, if you can do math, that is five hours between arrival and your first beer. Take a few beverages for the wait outside (and always attempt to bring in a small flask that you’re not that attached to, it can’t hurt!).
5. Stay in groups of a maximum of 8-10 people. That is the maximum that can fit on a table and even then you are likely to get separated and spend the day with a smaller group anyway.
6. Unless you have a stomach of steel, leave a day for the rides. You won’t be able to go on them after the beers and it would be a waste to puke it all up! There are definitely enough rides and attractions in Munich to have a full day of exploration and there are plenty of bars outside the beer tents for your “liquid courage”.
7. Take cash out BEFORE you get there. Although there are ATMs, they are few and far between and all come with hideously long lines! Side note: Beers cost around 9 per Litre and most people just round it up to 10 to keep the waitress happy and keep the beer flowing!
8. Beers are strong! The breweries make them extra strong just for Oktoberfest, so don’t use your usual gauge of tolerance.
9. Keep the address of the place you are staying somewhere safe! There is nothing worse than being drunk and merry and not having a nice warm place to crash.
10. Weather is unpredictable. Take a poncho or small umbrella with you and avoid being cold AND wet.
11. Always have a form of ID on you. This may seem trivial but be sure to keep it in a safe place where you won’t loose it, as this could be useful should you get into any kind of trouble.
12. Everyone dresses up! Even if it is just the addition of a traditional hat, wear something to get into the spirit and show everyone around you that you came to enjoy the festival.
13. All the drinking songs are in German. Obviously. There are a few short ones that are played often enough that you will pick up most of the words by the end of the day.
15. If you get into a tent, DON’T LEAVE! Unless you have a wristband that allows you to leave and come back at your choosing, the security guards will not let you back in even if all of your belongings are inside. Smokers: look for the designated smoking area, any other outdoor area will mean you can kiss you friends and beer goodbye.
Finally, HAVE FUN! Proooooooooooost! Beer tents are amazing, rides are lots of fun and Munich is a beautiful city.