A Brew Lover’s Guide to Oktoberfest: History, Traditions, and Must-Visit Tents

Welcome to “A Brew Lover’s Guide to Oktoberfest”! If you’re here, you’re probably excited about the world’s largest beer festival. 


Whether you’re planning your first trip or you’re a seasoned Oktoberfest-goer, this guide will answer your questions and help you make the most of your experience.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Oktoberfest?
  2. A Brief History of Oktoberfest
  3. Traditions You Should Know
  4. Must-Visit Tents
  5. Tips for First-Timers
  6. FAQs
  7. Share Your Experience

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is a massive festival held in Munich, Germany, celebrating Bavarian culture, beer, and camaraderie. 

It typically runs from late September to the first weekend in October. 

Visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the festivities, traditional foods, music, and, of course, the beer.

What Makes Oktoberfest Special?

Oktoberfest is not just a beer festival; it’s a celebration of Bavarian culture and traditions. 

The atmosphere is electric, with vibrant parades, traditional music, and people dressed in traditional Bavarian attire. 

The sense of community and togetherness is palpable, making it an unforgettable experience for anyone who attends.

Why You Should Go

Whether you’re a beer enthusiast, a foodie, or someone who loves experiencing new cultures, Oktoberfest has something for everyone. 

The festival offers a unique blend of history, tradition, and modern-day fun, making it a must-visit event at least once in your lifetime.

A Brief History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest started in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. 

The citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities, which included horse races, music, and dancing. 

The event was so popular that it became an annual tradition. 

Over time, it evolved into the beer-centric festival we know today.

The Evolution of Oktoberfest

Originally, Oktoberfest was more focused on the agricultural aspects of Bavarian life, featuring horse races and agricultural shows. 

The Evolution of Oktoberfest

As time went on, beer became more central to the festivities. 

Breweries began setting up tents and serving their brews, which gradually became the main attraction.

Key Milestones in Oktoberfest History

  • 1810: The first Oktoberfest is held to celebrate the royal wedding.
  • 1818: The first carousel and two swings are set up, marking the beginning of amusement rides at the festival.
  • 1887: The first parade of the traditional marksmen’s clubs takes place.
  • 1950: The tradition of the mayor tapping the first keg begins.

Traditions You Should Know

Oktoberfest is rich with traditions that make the experience even more special. 

Here are some key traditions to be aware of:

Dirndls and Lederhosen

Traditional Bavarian clothing is a big part of the fun. 

Women wear dirndls, and men wear lederhosen. These outfits are not only a nod to Bavarian culture but also a way to get into the spirit of the festival.

If you don’t own these clothes, don’t worry—you can rent or buy them in Munich.

The Opening Ceremony

The festival kicks off with a grand parade and the tapping of the first keg by the Mayor of Munich. 

The phrase “O’zapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”) marks the official start of Oktoberfest. 

This is followed by a 12-gun salute, signaling that beer can be served.

Beer Tents

There are 14 large tents and 20 smaller ones, each offering a unique atmosphere. 

Some focus on traditional music, while others might be more modern or family-friendly. 

Each tent is run by a different brewery, serving their own special brews.

Music and Dancing

Live bands play traditional Bavarian music, and it’s not uncommon to see people dancing on tables. 

Join in the fun—it’s a great way to meet new friends and truly experience the joyous spirit of Oktoberfest.


From pretzels and sausages to roast chicken and pork knuckles, the food at Oktoberfest is as much a highlight as the beer. 

Traditional Bavarian dishes are hearty and flavorful, perfect for pairing with a cold beer.

The Closing Ceremony

The festival ends with a final gun salute and the singing of traditional Bavarian songs. 

It’s a bittersweet moment as visitors say goodbye to the festivities, but it’s also a time to reflect on the amazing experiences and memories made.

Must-Visit Tents

With so many tents to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. 

Here are some must-visit tents that offer a unique and memorable experience:

1. Hofbräu-Festzelt

  • Why Visit? This tent is run by the famous Hofbräuhaus brewery. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and international crowd.
  • What to Expect: Lots of singing, dancing, and a fantastic beer selection. The tent can accommodate up to 10,000 people, making it one of the largest at Oktoberfest.

2. Schottenhamel

  • Why Visit? This is where the opening ceremony takes place. It’s the oldest and one of the largest tents at Oktoberfest.
  • What to Expect: A historic feel with traditional Bavarian decor and a friendly crowd. The Schottenhamel tent is also known for its younger crowd and lively atmosphere.

3. Augustiner-Festhalle

  • Why Visit? Known for serving some of the best beer, this tent is a favorite among locals.
  • What to Expect: A more relaxed atmosphere with great service and delicious food. The Augustiner beer served here is tapped from traditional wooden kegs, adding to the authentic experience.

4. Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke

  • Why Visit? If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, this tent is perfect. It’s smaller and often frequented by celebrities.
  • What to Expect: High-quality food, a cozy ambiance, and a chance to spot some famous faces. Käfer’s Wiesn-Schänke is known for its gourmet cuisine and extensive wine list, making it a unique choice at Oktoberfest.

5. Weinzelt (Wine Tent)

  • Why Visit? For those who prefer wine over beer, Weinzelt is a must-visit. It offers a selection of over 15 different wines, including sparkling wines and champagnes.
  • What to Expect: A more refined atmosphere with a variety of wines and a selection of delicious cheese and seafood platters. The tent also features traditional Bavarian music and dancing.

Tips for First-Timers

1. Plan Ahead

Oktoberfest can get crowded, so make reservations for the tents if possible. 

Also, book your accommodation well in advance. 

Many hotels in Munich fill up quickly during the festival, so early planning is essential.

2. Bring Cash

Some places might not accept cards, and it’s easier for smaller purchases. 

There are ATMs available, but they can have long lines, so having cash on hand is convenient.

3. Stay Hydrated

It’s easy to get caught up in the beer-drinking fun, but don’t forget to drink water, too. 

This will help you stay hydrated and enjoy the festival without feeling too overwhelmed.

4. Wear Comfortable Shoes

You’ll be walking and standing a lot, so make sure your feet are happy. 

Avoid high heels or new shoes that might cause discomfort.

5. Be Open-Minded

Oktoberfest is all about having fun and experiencing new things. Embrace the culture, try new foods, and make new friends. 

The festival is a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, making it a unique opportunity to connect with people from all over the world.

6. Know the Beer Sizes

Beer at Oktoberfest is typically served in one-liter steins, known as “Mass.” If a liter is too much, some tents offer smaller sizes, but they can be harder to find. 

Pace yourself and enjoy the beer responsibly.

7. Understand the Tipping Culture

Tipping is customary in Germany, and the waitstaff at Oktoberfest work hard. 

A typical tip is around 10% of the bill or rounding up to the nearest euro.

8. Respect the Dress Code

While traditional clothing is encouraged, it’s not mandatory. 

However, wearing a dirndl or lederhosen can enhance your experience and help you blend in with the locals.

9. Take Advantage of Public Transport

Munich has an excellent public transport system, including buses, trams, and trains. 

It’s the easiest and safest way to get to and from the festival grounds.

10. Keep an Eye on Your Belongings

Oktoberfest is generally safe, but with large crowds, it’s important to be mindful of your personal belongings. 

Keep your valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings.


When is the best time to visit Oktoberfest?

Weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends. 

Early mornings can also be a good time if you prefer a quieter atmosphere. 

The festival grounds open at 10 AM on weekdays and 9 AM on weekends.

Is Oktoberfest family-friendly?

Yes, there are plenty of activities for children, especially on Family Days when rides and attractions are offered at reduced prices. 

There are also specific tents that are more family-oriented, offering a calmer environment for those with kids.

Do I need to speak German?

While knowing some basic German phrases can be helpful, most people at Oktoberfest speak English, and you’ll get by just fine. 

Many menus and signs are also available in English.

How much does it cost to attend Oktoberfest?

Entry to the festival grounds is free, but you’ll need to pay for food, drinks, and rides. Beer prices can range from €12 to €15 per liter, and food prices vary depending on what you choose.

Can I bring my own food and drinks?

No, bringing your own food and drinks into the tents is not allowed. 

However, there are numerous food stalls and vendors where you can purchase a wide variety of traditional Bavarian dishes.

What should I do if I get lost?

The festival grounds are large and can be confusing. 

There are information booths and lost-and-found stations throughout the grounds. 

It’s also a good idea to have a meeting point arranged with your group in case you get separated.