Just like anything, there are some things that aren't really explained until you experience it firsthand and Oktoberfest is no different. Here are 9 random things I learned from Oktoberfest.
When you prost (toast, cheers, etc.) each other, you must look into each others eyes and clank your mug with the bottom of it. If you do not look into each others eyes you will have seven years of bad sex. The Germans swear this is true. The clanking of the glass goes for all occasions by the way. The reason is so you have a smaller chance of breaking your glass, which is very smart of them.
Beer wenches - just kidding - servers walk around with little mini shot bottles for sale. Most of them are similar sweetened little liquor shots. If you take one of these, you must untwist the cap and place it on your nose while you take the shot. I have no idea why we do this other than it’s hilarious every time and I suppose it's tradition.
3. The infamous Pee Wall.
I want to get a photo of this but I think it would infringe on people’s rights so I will withhold myself. There is a wall at fest solely dedicated to peeing. For obvious reasons, men are generally the ones to take advantage of this wall. I suppose this is an indispensable thing to have when you just chugged a liter of beer...which in itself would be very impressive.
4. Youngsters Everywhere.
Sometimes you feel like you’re partying with a bunch of teenagers. This may be more true for Volksfest in Stuttgart (2nd largest beer festival in the world), but when you look around and realize everyone is in their teens it can be quite funny....or depressing. Some tents are known for having a younger crowd so do some research on the tents before you leave home.
5. Family Day.
At Oktoberfest in Munich Tuesdays are family days where rides and performances are discounted. At Volksfest Wednesdays are family days. Who knew?
6. No Admissions Fee.
There is no admissions fee to enter the grounds or even to walk inside a tent to look around, although this may be nearly impossible after the tent is filled. There is security standing around but they only check your bag as you're walking in.
7. Tent Hours.
The tents close by midnight. This was surprising to me. For the biggest beer party in the world I would think they go on all night. Sadly they don’t, but this is probably for the better. After closing, the tents clean up the broken glass from liters of beer spilled, chicken and bread smeared on the floors, and other more unsightly things as well. This takes large crews to get them clean and work from closing time until opening the next morning. If you like to start your day right, however, the tents open at 11am ready to give you a liter of beer.
8. Dirndls and Lederhosen.
Dirndl’s and Lederhosen are worn by most people at Oktoberfest. If you decide to make the trip to Germany for fest, make sure you buy the real thing. Although generally expensive, having a good dirndl/lederhosen will last you a lifetime and will give you a reason to come back. Or it will be a great Halloween costume for the rest of your life. For a good quality costume they are around 100 - 200 Euro but as higher quality leathers are used they can cost upwards of 1,500 Euro or more (yes I've seen them that expensive!). Angermaier stores in Germany have these expensive dirndls but also some under 200 Euro. I’ve heard Ebay and online searches will have less expensive ones and there are online specialty stores just for Oktoberfest. There is a store here called NKD that has dirndl’s for under 100 Euro too.
However, many people don’t wear a costume and are just fine too. Don’t worry, you won’t have fruit thrown at you for not wearing one but you may regret not having a photo wearing your costume with a liter of beer in your hand.
Short History: The outfits didn't start off as costumes, rather they were the every day work attire for working men and women on farms and those that did outdoor work. In the late 1800's they were made popular by middle and upper class citizens and eventually became known as the traditional costume of Bavaria. Many people still wear them today outside of Oktoberfest during other festivals and traditional events.
9. It’s Sizzling.
The tents can get hot! Even though many women wear dirndls that have some breathing room, they get pretty sweaty in them after a few hours in a tent with thousands of other people dancing and swaying around. The dirndls have layers and get warm fast. I can't attest to the lederhosen but I'm sure wearing thick real leather pants all day will keep you nice and toasty as well.
Please leave a comment if I missed something! I would love to hear about your experience.
If you liked this post, check out my other posts on festivals:
My Oktoberfest Answers.com Articles: