How to Oktoberfest Like a German!
How to Celebrate Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest, held September 22-October 7, 2019, is known as the biggest party in the world. First held in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, today’s festivities take place over two weeks, with every day dedicated to enjoying German beer and food. Whether you’re planning a trip to Munich or throwing a party closer to home, celebrating Oktoberfest means surrounding yourself with good friends, tasty food, and plenty of beer.O’zapft is(The beer is tapped)!
To celebrate Oktoberfest at home, set out long tables and benches outside to emulate the communal spirit of the festival. Deck the area with blue and white checked Bavarian flags and serve traditional Oktoberfestbier imported from Germany. Set out lots of German sausages, soft pretzels, and cheese dip, too! Don’t forget to wear traditional German clothes, like a dirndl or lederhosen, and encourage your guests to do the same.Read on for tips on heading to the celebration in Munich or abroad!
Throwing an Oktoberfest Party
Invite guests a week or two ahead of time.The traditional Oktoberfest party in Munich is enormous, with over 6 million attendees over the course of a few weeks. For a backyard, DIY Oktoberfest party, anywhere from 5-15 guests is a good range. You can invite them through text or e-vites or send out Oktoberfest-themed paper invitations for a fun, traditional flair.
Encourage male guests to wear traditional clothes like lederhosen.Dressing in “tracht,” or traditional German attire, can make your Oktoberfest party feel authentic, festive, and much more fun. For men, this means the classic lederhosen and hat pairing, which you can find online, in costume stores, or around the house for a DIY version!
Oktoberfest Clothes for Men:
Lederhosen,leather shorts with suspenders
Atrachten hatwith a gamsbart, or tuft of hair
DIY version:a pair of brown shorts and suspenders, a collared, checkered shirt, and tall socks
Let female guests come in their best dirndls.Women have their own version of tracht, complete with a three-piece dress called a dirndl. You can buy one online or in costume stores, or make it with clothes you already have. Just be careful how you tie on your apron! Tying a bow on the left means you’re single, while putting it on the right indicates that you’re married or in a relationship.
Set out a table and benches outside to replicate the community atmosphere.Oktoberfest traditionally is celebrated in big tents and long, community-style tables, making it a celebration of culture and togetherness. Bring this feeling into your own Oktoberfest party by setting out long, rectangular tables outside with benches, if you can. Incorporate the blue and white colors of the Bavarian flag by covering the tables with a blue and white checked tablecloth, or a simple white one with blue decorations.
- Fill clean, empty beer bottles with flowers or wheat straws to add a unique autumn flair to your table decorations.
Decorate with flags and beer steins.Hang up Bavarian flags, streamers, and lanterns around your yard. Set out candles on the table for lighting and add additional flair with traditional German items, like beer steins and Alpine hats. Don’t go overboard with your decorations—keep it simple and unified with the blue and white color scheme for a laidback, authentic Oktoberfest feel.
- You can also make your own pretzel garland to hang and nibble from. Make or buy soft pretzels and thread them together with twine. Hang them from a fence or gazebo and tell your guests to tear them off when they get hungry!
Prepare traditional German food, like sausages and sauerkraut.Oktoberfest parties aren’t complete without some tasty German foods to soak up the beer. Meat is a must, especially sausages, along with some bread and veggies for variety. Set the food out on the table and encourage guests to help themselves!
Serve snacks in empty cardboard six-packs.In addition to heavy, filling “main course” items like meats and soft pretzels, you’ll also want to set out some light snacks for guests to nibble on throughout the night. Go with salty snacks like popcorn, hard pretzels, nuts, and crackers. Instead of bowls, set them out in empty cardboard six-pack holders for a cute, Oktoberfest-themed alternative.
Serve plenty of German beers in steins.It’s an Oktoberfest party—beer is the number one priority! For a money-saving, potluck-style option, you can ask your guests to bring a six-pack each of their favorite, ideally German-style brew. For a more traditional Oktoberfest experience, you’ll need to buy from the 6 breweries that make the official Oktoberfestbier served in Munich.
Traditional Oktoberfest Beers for Your Party
Of the 6 breweries that produce beer for the Munich celebration, onlyHacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Paulaner and Spaten Oktoberfestbierare currently shipped to the US.
For a cheaper option,go with smaller German beers, or even try some local breweries to mix things up.
Tip:As the host, open the first beer or keg at your party and say “O’zapft is” (It is tapped!) to officially start the celebration.
Set out German desserts like Lebkuchen hearts or Black Forest cake.End the night on a sweet note with traditional German desserts. Bake or buy Black Forest cake, a rich chocolate torte mixed with sour cherries and Kirschwasser, a cherry brandy. You can also hand out “Lebkuchen” hearts, heart-shaped gingerbread cookies traditionally served at German Oktoberfest celebrations.
- Lebkuchen hearts are traditionally decorated with love notes for a sweetheart. You can get your guests involved by making the gingerbread cookies beforehand, then setting up a cookie-decorating station to let everyone write their own messages.
Play brass band “oompah” music for an upbeat, traditional feel.Bigger celebrations often book brass bands to play German “oompah” music, but if you can’t get live music, try playing some from a speaker system. It’s fun to dance to and can solidify the Bavarian feel of your party.
Celebrating in Germany and Around the World
Head to Munich for the original and largest Oktoberfest celebration.Oktoberfest has been held in Munich since 1810, and the main celebration still takes place in the original meadow, called Theresienwiese or “Wiesn.” The festival attracts over 6 million guests a year and is known as the biggest party in the world. It’ll be expensive, but might be worth it if you love drinking beer, meeting new people, and experiencing a fun cultural tradition.
- Book flights and accommodations as early as you can. Munich fills up fast in the days before the festival, especially near the start and end. Look for deals and packages online, and consider staying in hostels or Airbnbs instead of hotels.
Get there on the first day to see the ceremonial start to the festival.Oktoberfest kicks off on Saturday, September 22, 2019 with a ceremony and parade. The mayor of Munich will tap the first barrel of beer, followed by saluting shots at the Bavaria statue that signal to the city that Oktoberfest has started. Later, a big parade of horse-drawn carriages representing different breweries will march down the streets of Munich.
- The Costume and Riflemen’s Procession takes place on the first Sunday of the festival. Ceremonial “troops” march down the streets in historical uniforms, accompanied by marching bands, animals like horses, cows, and goats, and floats displaying local traditions.
- Another main event, the open-air Oktoberfest music concert, takes place a week later, on the second Sunday of Oktoberfest.
Dress up in dirndls and lederhosen for a fun, traditional look.Many Oktoberfest-goers, both Bavarians and foreigners, deck out in lederhosen and dirndls for the festival. It’s not required, but can be a fun excuse to wear a costume and feel like a part of the festivities. You can buy your clothes online beforehand or head to one of the shops in the city that specializes in them.
Book a place in the more popular tents to ensure a spot.Entry to Oktoberfest is free, but you can get turned away from tents when they start to fill up. To avoid this, get there early, especially on the weekends; the festival opens at 9:30 am and goes until around midnight, but the official guide recommends arriving no later than 2:30 pm. You can also request to reserve seating ahead of time using the Oktoberfest website.
- To reserve seats, go to .
- The most crowded tents are typically the Hofbräu tent, which is popular with foreigners, and the Schottenhamel tent, which is the largest, seating 10,000 people.
Head to the smaller tents during the week for a more diverse and less crowded experience.The main tents are often packed, but Oktoberfest is huge—you can easily find less crowded tents for a more interesting and relaxing experience. Check out these options on the weekdays, especially, to have the most time and space to look around and sample beers at your leisure.
- The Winzerer Fähndl tent, for example, has a beer garden, while the Hackerbräu tent is completely decorated in the Bavarian colors of blue and white.
- The smallest tent is the Glöckle Wirt tent, which seats just 98 people and lines its walls with traditional cooking utensils, musical instruments, and paintings.
Check out the rides and music for entertainment.There’s more to Oktoberfest than just eating and drinking! Check out the festival attractions, which include small rollercoasters, spinning rides, and merry-go-rounds, or listen and dance to the live brass bands playing fun “oompah” music.
- If you don’t like beers as much, you can also check out the Weinzelt, or wine tent, or snack on sweet treats and pastries from different tents.
Check out worldwide Oktoberfest celebrations if you can’t make it to Munich.Munich may be the traditional heart of Oktoberfest, but the festival is now celebrated all over the world. If you can’t make it to Germany this fall, try an international celebration and get a different flavor of the festival. You can also go online to see what local Oktoberfest events are being held in your area.
International Oktoberfest Celebrations
Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario,Canada hosts the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world.
Blumenau, in Brazil,puts on an Oktoberfest celebration every year in honor of the city’s German heritage.
Cincinnati, Ohio,hosts the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the US. It features unique events, including the “Running of the Wieners,” a speed race between 100 dachshunds dressed as hot dogs.
Hong Konghosts Bierfest with German food, beer, and music.
Video: What Happens At OKTOBERFEST!?
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