Famous around the world, Oktoberfest is the world's largest Volksfest, a large public event in Germany that combines an exciting funfair with a beer festival.
Millions of people from all over the world come to the city of Munich every single year to enjoy two weeks of celebrations, indulge in delicious Bavarian food and try the exclusive beer.
Discover everything you could possibly need to know about Oktoberfest, from its origin and location, to the festival's not-to-be-missed events, below.
Originating in 1810, the very first Oktoberfest took place to celebrate the marriage of the soon-to-be King of Bavaria Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hiburghausen. Citizens of Munich were invited to enjoy five days of celebrations, where the town rejoiced by eating, drinking and dancing. Parades, shooting displays and a horse race also took place around the famous Theresienwiese meadow – the place where the festival is still held to this day.
Today, Oktoberfest involves many of the same activities. Visitors come to Munich for the folk festival, often wearing traditional outfits such as dirndl and lederhosen. The horse race no longer takes place, but parades, concerts, various attractions and plenty of eating and drinking is still involved!
Oktoberfest officially begins once the Munich mayor has tapped the first beer barrel, declaring 'O'zapft is!' ('It is tapped!'). This takes place in the Schottenhamel tent, and signifies that the drinking can commence!
All the beer served at the festival must come from six specialised Munich breweries which have passed specific Oktoberfest Beer criteria, and a wide range of local dishes can be found at the festival too. Favourites among visitors include Hendl (roast chicken), Obatzda (a Bavarian cheese delicacy), Ochsenfetzensemmel (roast ox), Bratwurst and giant pretzels. You will find them all spread across various stalls and tents during the festival.
One of the most popular attractions, the beer tents are always lively no matter what time you visit the festival. There are 14 tents to choose from, each varying in size and offering a slightly different experience. Heimer's Enten-und Hendlbraterei tent is always popular with locals and serves the traditional dish of roast duck or chicken freshly cooked on the grill. For those who prefer something sweet, Café Kaiserschmarrn is as delicious as its sugar-coated castle exterior looks. Run by Rischart, one of the most well-known bakeries in Munich, you will be able to buy delicious pretzels, croissants and enjoy a coffee before heading to the bar for a cold beer or glass of champagne. From Zur Bratwurst serving specialty bratwurst, to the famous Schottenhamel the largest tent, to the tiny Glöckle Wirt offering a fun Bavarian experience, there is a beer tent to suit everyone at Oktoberfest. You can view the entire list here.
It is not all about drinking at Oktoberfest however, there are many different attractions for all travellers. A family-friendly festival, visitors will be able to enjoy lots of fairground rides at the Luna Park area, from the traditional 'Krinoline' merry-go round with music from a live orchestra, to the exhilarating Olympia Looping rollercoaster. If you prefer to keep your feet securely on the ground, visitors can browse the many stalls and shooting galleries instead - the perfect place to pick up a souvenir before you head home.
Make sure you don’t miss out on the various parades and music events throughout Oktoberfest either, particularly the grand parade where colourful carriages, floats and entertainers in costumes march through the streets of Munich to mark the beginning of Oktoberfest. The official costume and riflemen's parade follows the day after, where over 9,000 performers take to the streets and walk to traditional music for two and a half hours, displaying the diverse customs of Bavaria, Germany and the neighbouring countries.
Oktoberfest is a hugely popular event, and weekends and bank holidays are known for being very busy. For families with children, or anyone wishing to enjoy Oktoberfest at a quieter time, we suggest arranging a visit on a weekday around midday.
Oktoberfest has been held annually in Munich for more than 200 years. The festival traditionally begins in September and continues for 16 to 18 days into early October. Usually, Oktoberfest will end on the first Sunday in October, however if this date falls before German Unity Day (October 3rd), it will continue until then.
Originally, Oktoberfest did begin in October but it has since been moved forward so guests can enjoy better weather conditions and warmer nights.
Over six million people visit Oktoberfest every single year, and Munich can feel very busy during this time. Below, we have listed some key points about the festival's location, events and opening hours so you can plan your trip in advance- helping you to make the most out of your time in Germany.
Where is Oktoberfest held?
Oktoberfest is held annually at Theresienwiese, a large meadow which was once the location for Prince Ludwig I's wedding in 1810. Since then, Oktoberfest has been held in this large open space every single year to commemorate the royal marriage.
Travelling to Theresienwiese is easy. Based in the south west of Munich city centre, visitors can reach the festival on foot or use the Munich U-Bahn. Theresienwiese station is located on the U4 and U5 lines. There is also an extensive network of trams and buses to help visitors get around the city.
If you choose to stay at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski, it is a 30-minute walk to Oktoberfest, or Odeonsplatz U-Bahn station is only 10 minute's walk away which will take you directly to Theresienwiese station.
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day: 12:00 to 22:30
Weekdays: 10:00 to 22:30
Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays: 9:00 to 22:30
Reservations can be made for the beer tents, it is not essential but is highly recommended to ensure you get a table. For parties of eight and above, our concierge team at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski will be happy to assist and arrange your reservation in your chosen tent.
If you do not have a reservation, we suggest heading to Oktoberfest early as tents can fill up very quickly, particularly on weekends and bank holidays. To make your own reservation, you must contact the individual tents - details can be found on the official Oktoberfest website.
Stall Opening Hours
Opening day: 10:00 – 12 midnight
Monday - Thursday: 10:00 - 23:30
Friday: 10:00 – 12 midnight
Saturday: 9:00 – 12 midnight
Sunday: 9:00 - 23:30
Fairground Attractions and Sideshows Opening Hours
Opening day: 12 noon – 12 midnight
Monday - Thursday: 10:00 - 23:30
Friday - Saturday: 10:00 – 12 midnight
Sunday: 10:00 - 23:30
Official End of Oktoberfest: 23:30
All areas including beer tents are free to enter. Reservations for tables in the beer tents are also free, however you will need to buy beer and food tokens in advance. The fairground rides inside the Luna Park area do charge a small fee to ride.
Theresienwiese, the site of Oktoberfest is easily accessible on foot, via public transport or by car from Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski. Guests will be perfectly placed to reach the festival and the hotel is an ideal choice for couples, small groups of friends and families alike.
The famous Oktoberfest costume parade passes right by the hotel along Maximilianstrasse, so you will not have to go far to enjoy the celebrations. You will be able to see the traditional Bavarian outfits and watch the horses and fanfare bands pass by with fewer crowds. Find here more information about the offer
Throughout the festival, guests of the hotel can enjoy a collection of Oktoberfest-themed events to celebrate with Kempinski. Not to be missed is the Oktoberfest corner of our breakfast buffet – complete with Bavarian delicacies to fuel yourself before a busy day!
With world-class facilities and an outstanding concierge team on-hand to provide information about Oktoberfest and Munich's other must-see sights, we are certain guests of Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski will have a wonderful time.