Oktoberfest 2011

Stein €10, Pretzel €5, Hat €12 .. The Bavarian Experience? Priceless.

From Canada Day festivities in our nation’s capital, to Stanley and Grey Cup gatherings, us Canadians experience our fair share of public celebration. We are the unite-at-parliament-and-play-street-hockey-after-winning-the-gold-medal type of people. We love to come together in honor of the nation, a sport, or in pure, communal love of beer. And although we are less chauvinistic than our neighbours down south, no one can argue that we truly love to gather, drink and have a friendly chat with whoever finds a spot next to us. For this reason alone, Oktoberfest in Munich was one of the best parts of these Canadians’ EuroTrip.

Oktoberfest was like … actually, I can`t compare it to anything. It was larger than life, crowded with jolly people dressed in their best leiderhosen, tables and tables of old friends meeting new ones, live music with traditional German songs as well as American classics and not an empty beerstein in sight.

The Hippodrom! A rowdy Bavarian tent, and the first one on the lot (therefore our home for the entire first day)

We had been warned by other travelers that it was impossible to get a seat in a tent during the weekends, and it was compulsory to reserve, so we made sure to be there during the week to avoid any of that. We also arrived before noon to beat the rush and get a full day in before the tents closed at 11:30pm (we only made it that far one of two nights).

After doing a bit of research, we quickly learnt that Munich is an expensive city to visit, especially during Oktoberfest. Hostels were either fully booked (we met people who booked 4 months in advance) or ridiculously overpriced. Thankfully, we met some travelers in Salzburg who had just stayed at a place called The Tent, where visitors can pay 14 euros to sleep on the floor of ‘FloorTent’, 22 euros to sleep in a bed in ‘BedTent’, or 8 euros to pitch a tent in the grass among dozens more. The Tent is just a 15 minute tram away from the festivities, so it’s really a great solution for those looking to save their money for those 10 euro steins.

Aside from the outfits, the language and the immensity of it all, two things seperate Oktoberfest from any festival thrown in North America. 1) Entrance is free, so you can easily drink outside the event, enter the festival and walk around if you so please. 2) The beer is actually made STRONGER for Oktoberfest. Instead of 5 or 6%, the beer you’re buying is specially made at 8% or higher. I know, shocking and incredible all at the same time.

I can only attempt to express the Oktoberfest atmosphere in writing, but as I’ve said, it is truly like no other. The people are beyond welcoming, ready to include anyone in their traditions by repeating songs and sayings slowly and excitedly, enjoying every moment of watching visitors realize the absolute grandness that is Oktoberfest.

Of course, we met many travelers who could only grimace at the thought of a crowded, beer-filled day spent with strangers. So if that’s not your thing, I suppose I wouldn’t suggest it. But the great thing about this event is there’s something for everyone. Kids are entertained by hundreds of rides and games, the ferris wheel offers a great view of Munich, and the German delicacies offered are tasty and traditional. In a nutshell though, if you enjoy the taste of beer, I recommend you add this event to your bucket list immediately.

Oktoberfest is the world's largest fair, and attracts more than 5 million visitors every year.

Here’s a little tour of the festivities…