It’s a Bavarian Good Time at Oktoberfest


It began as one big wedding celebration – a celebration to which all of Munich was invited. In 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig, later King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxony–Hildburghausen in a city–wide event that lasted five days. It was such a fabulous party that the following year they did it again, and every year since, barring wars and cholera outbreaks. More than two centuries later, Oktoberfest is billed as the biggest folk festival in the world. Although carousels eventually replaced horse races and in 1896 beer stands were upgraded to tents (some seating up to 6,000 revellers at a time), the underlying tradition remains the same: an annual, two–weeks–and–then–some celebration of the autumn harvest defined by thigh–slapping Bavarian music, iconic Bavarian fashion and the best in Bavarian beer. Prost!

September 20, 2019
Two men dressed for Oktoberfest stand in front of the Kasperltheater Trollmann puppet theatre
These Oktoberfest enthusiasts drove 400 km from Frankfurt to get to the festival (which draws roughly 6 million people from around the world every year). They are standing in front of the Kasperltheater Trollmann, a puppet theatre that has charmed audiences with a family–friendly Punch and Judy show for decades.
Andre H. Bandel wears a traditional green felt hat adorned with flowers and pins
Andre H. Bandel, who has attended Oktoberfest since he was a boy, sports a traditional Filzhut, or felt hat.
Three women wear the Bavarian dirndl while they take aim in a traditional shooting gallery
Three dirndl–clad women take aim in a traditional shooting gallery.
An older gentleman stands in the street wearing traditional Bavarian clothing
A brown horse wears decorated reigns and ribbons
A jungle themed fun house is decorated with palm trees and hippopotamus storefronts
The Amazonas Agtsch is an elaborate fun house with a jungle theme, just one of more than 150 rides and attractions.
The Märchenbahn train runs through a fairy-tale world filled with garden gnomes
The Märchenbahn train transports children through a fairy–tale world complete with German Gartenzwerg, or garden gnomes.
The wavy Münchner Rutschn slide is painted in blue and white stripes
Painted in the blue and white colours of Bavaria, the wavy Münchner Rutschn slide is 23 metres high and 55 metres long.
A hand holds a giant pretzel
A tan lenderhosen sports a brooch with a picture of King Ludwig II on it
Buttons, brooches and portraits affixed to hats and, in this case, lederhosen, often pay homage to Bavaria’s royal family. King Ludwig II, pictured here, was King of Bavaria from 1864 until his mysterious death in 1886 – he’s sometimes called der Märchenkönig (the Fairy–Tale King) because of his penchant for building elaborate castles.


Munich Travel Essentials

Where to Stay

Red, blue and yellow sofas sit upon a stage in the bar with guitars hanging from the ceiling
Ruby Lilly   Photo: Ruby Lilly Hotel & Bar Munich

NYX Hotel Munich Local street art adorns the walls and DJs field requests catering to your current mood in the bar (where dancing is encouraged, if not mandatory) while a retro games room and in–house theatre round out the entertainment on offer at the lively and eclectic NYX Hotel Munich, a convenient 3.5 kilometres from Oktoberfest.

Ruby Lilly Just a 20–minute walk from the fairgrounds, this sleek, efficient hotel offers organic, locally sourced breakfasts of fresh fruit and whole grain buns from nearby Mauerer bakery – a good bet if you’re planning on bratwurst and an oversized pretzel washed down with a litre of beer for lunch.

Eat & Drink

A man assembles fish-on-a-stick and lines them up in a row
   Photo: Gunnar Knechtel

Fischer–Vroni Fish–on–a–stick is a must in Munich and there’s no better place to find Steckerlfisch than in the family–run Fischer–Vroni beer tent at Oktoberfest. Watch the catch of the day (mackerel, trout, char or whitefish) get charred on an open grill while sampling Augustiner beer served from wooden barrels. While the tent seats over 3,000 people at a time, it’s best to make a reservation as many linger to hear the brass band that has provided a musical backdrop for diners for 30 years.

What to Do

A man cuts fabric for a leather lederhosen
   Photo: Gunnar Knechtel

Lederhosen Michi Originally designed as sturdy workwear for peasants, rafters and farmers, leather lederhosen have evolved into tailor–made fashion pieces crafted with soft deerskin, staghorn buttons and intricate, handstitched embroidery. It’s worth a trip to Michael Krippel’s workshop, Lederhosen Michi, to see how it’s done – or to pick up your own custom pair to don during Oktoberfest. The shop is located just outside Munich in the small village of Riegsee, and Krippel is one of only a handful of lederhosen manufacturers left who make the leather pants by hand with no chemicals or synthetic materials, the traditional way. The shop also stocks leather boots, traditional shirts and suspenders.