Oktoberfest in Munich

Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. This week he delights in the sixteen day festival - Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest, Munich

Everything about Oktoberfest is enormous. The sixteen-day festival attracts over six million visitors from the local area and all over the world. Revellers come to eat and drink in 14 tents – some of which seat up to ten thousand people.

At times it feels like half of Bavaria is crammed in, drinking litre mugs of foaming beer (varieties of which are brewed especially for the festival) and eating huge quantities of roast chicken, pork knuckle and sausages.

History of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest has roots dating back to 1810 when a fair was held to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria. Annual customs are a key part of the party with many locals attending in traditional costumes.

Oktoberfest events

All this adds up to the world’s longest, biggest party – which is precisely why you should come. Many visitors need a few extra drinks to forget they decided to don a traditional Bavarian outfit and bop along to an oompah band.

Come then and swig a few ‘Maß’ – the term for a litre of Oktoberfest beer which costs around £7. Admission to Oktoberfest, however, is free.

Festival tips

Check out a few of the 14 different tents – if you stick to the Hofbräu you’ll only be drinking with other foreigners. Have a go on some of the fairground rides that hug the main thoroughfare - though do so early in the day. Efforts are made to retain a family atmosphere at least until sundown.

After that things can turn more raucous in certain tents. The best strategy is to come in late afternoon and stay until 9 or 10 pm to avoid the crowds heading back into town. Book accommodation ahead and if Munich is full up stay in a nearby town like Augsburg.

Planning your trip to Munich

Oktoberfest runs from 19 September to 4 October 2009 and on roughly the same dates each year. Or get general travel information on Munich.

© 2009 Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd