It’s Munich’s busiest time of year – but is it the best time to visit the city?
The 182nd Oktoberfest has started! The first barrel of beer was tapped in the Schottenhamel tent by the Mayor of Munich and the first mug of beer was then handed to the Bavarian Prime Minister, Horst Seehofer. With this ceremony the Oktoberfest was started and the public were able to commence their beer drinking. The festival will last until 4th October with opening times being 10am to 10.30 pm and from 9am on Saturdays and Sundays. The choice of beer tents is almost bewildering – there are 14 big tents to choose from in addition to a number of smaller tents, each with their own special characteristics. Locally, the festival is often simply called the Wiesn, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds (Theresienwiese) themselves. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810.
The Oktoberfest attracts people from all nationalities to the city of Munich. Many people visit the festival from the UK, both as individuals and as organised groups. The second weekend of the Oktoberfest celebrations is traditionally the time when Italians visit the event in their thousands. According to the Munich Tourism department, Italians are the largest group of guests from abroad over the whole period of the festival.
.But is the Oktoberfest the best time to visit Munich? There are 6 main breweries in the city and at any time of year it is possible to enjoy a drink on one of the massive beerhalls or shady beer gardens during the summer months.
There are many, including a large number of locals, who prefer to avoid the Oktoberfest altogether. The beer tents and the city in general are incredibly crowded during this period. Many people find the oompah music too much and the drunken debauchery can lead to fights and aggressive behaviour. Locals who know the ropes make their table reservations around a year in advance. For tourists, it can be almost impossible to get inside the most popular tents, and is often necessary to grab a table at opening time.
Many tourists who visit Munich at Oktoberfest time find they have very little opportunity to see the rest of the city – a shame because this really is a very attractive city with many attractions worth visiting.
So – the Oktoberfest is certainly something to be experienced, but Munich has much to offer at other times of year, including plenty of locally brewed beers!