1. Plan your visit:
Oktoberfest tents during the evenings are loud, exciting and heavily packed – and once you finally get into a heaving tent, getting a seat is far from easy. It leaves many wondering if there is another way. The answer is that in addition to booking a plane/train and hotel, reserve an Oktoberfest table at the same time.
You’ll need the commitment of a large group of friends (you’ll usually need ten to reserve a table), but once paid for you are guaranteed seating, food and beer, and – if you like – as much dancing on the benches as you want.
Tables go quite quickly, so you need to book many months in advance. If you don’t reserve a table, check out the official Oktoberfest Wiesnbarometer 2019 before your visit. This is a chart that tells you when the festival is likely to be quiet, well-visited, heavily-visited and completely packed.
2. Use the app
The Oktoberfest app really is useful (you can download it here), and most parts of it are available in English. It tells you the opening hours for tents and fairground rides, provides a summary of each tent and gives advice on additional events and security (including what you can bring).
There is also an interactive map of the area, which as well as giving directions from around the city to the festival, visitors can use to easily navigate to meet friends within the grounds (not quite as easy as it sounds amidst the hubbub of a packed festival).
Better still, each tent (under Festival Terrain) on the map shows in percent how full each tent is, meaning visitors no longer have to waste their time queueing to get in when there is no chance.
Taking your children to the Wiesn is a rite of passage for many Munich (and wider Bavarian) parents, and this is usually done with the whole family kitted out in traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen. Locals know that a visit to the fairground is pretty much fabulous anytime of the day, even late into the evening.
For families wanting to go into one of the main tents, however, it’s best to go during the day, when the crowds are not so large, not so raucous and – simply – not as drunk.
4. Visit the Oide Wiesn
The Oide Wiesn, or Old Oktoberfest, is a highlight for kids, though there are plenty of adults who actually prefer it to the more rumbustious attractions of the main festival. Located at the southern end of the festival grounds, it can be overlooked but warrants a visit or two.
It costs three euros to get in, queues are invariably smaller for everything, and it's packed with old-style fairground rides. A real highlight is the Bavarian folk bands – yes, some typical Bavarian favourites – but there are many modern, much more experimental Bavarian folk bands that are well worth watching.
1. Don’t upset security
This really is one of the most important things to remember, because very quickly you’ll find yourself thrown out. Whether it’s because you are too drunk and annoying other revellers, or because you insist on dancing on tables rather than on the benches, you might find yourself suddenly standing alone outside – and don’t even think about trying to get back in.
2. Don’t upset the waiters and waitresses
This might sound obvious, but upset the person expected to deliver your food and beer at your peril. Firstly, they work damn hard day after day and they’re generally friendly, but – understandably – many don’t suffer fools lightly. Treat them with respect, and you’ll be fine – oh, and tip them well.
If it’s a busy period, ask them where there are spare seats, though don’t expect a group of six to easily find seats together. It’s important to remember that you won’t get served unless you have a seat first.
3. Don't bring the kitchen sink
Security has been dramatically stepped up in the past years, most clearly seen with the erection of a huge fence around the perimeter of the festival. Bags are checked and they must not have a capacity larger than three litres – otherwise, you’ll have to put them in the lockers (provided at various locations). The rule of thumb is pretty much not to bring anything more than a small hand-held bag – which makes even more sense if you want to dance away the evening in a beer tent.
4. Don't take the normal transport routes
Getting from the city centre or anywhere else in the city to the Oktoberfest grounds (Theresienwiese) looks easy on the public transport map. But to be honest, the U-Bahn platform at Theresienwiese is a nightmare at this time of year, and it’s much easier to walk – or at least take public transport only to a certain point and get off and walk.
After all, even if you don’t know Munich well, maps on smart phones will easily get you to the festival in a matter of minutes. Instead of the usual U4 or U5 to the festival, a good tip is to take the U3 or U6 from Marienplatz to Poccistraße, and then the festival is a matter of minutes by foot. Or take an S-Bahn to Hackerbrücke, at which point you don’t even need your smart phone – just follow the crowds on the ten-minute trek over the bridge to the festival.