Oktoberfest: History, Tips, Traditions, and Festive Oktoberfest Sayings
Get out your Lederhosen and Dirndls because Oktoberfest is here!
From September 16 to October 3, Munich celebrates this iconic festival with overflowing beer, traditional cuisine, folk music, and German gemütlichkeit. In this guide, we'll take you on a language-filled adventure through Munich's legendary beer festival. From the history of Oktoberfest, tips on tickets, etiquette, attire, and food to essential German phrases and even some funny Oktoberfest words, we've got everything you need to make the most of this incredible celebration. Time to say "O'zapft is!", grab your stein, and dive into the wonders of Wiesn.
Mark Your Calendars: Oktoberfest Dates
The 188th Oktoberfest takes place at Theresienwiese in Munich from September 16 to October 3, 2023. It's a two-week festival of beer, bratwurst, and Bavarian culture.
As language learners and festival enthusiasts, it's crucial to plan ahead for your Oktoberfest adventures. Here's a handy calendar of Oktoberfest dates spanning the next decade, so you never miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in Bavarian culture and language:
- Oktoberfest 2024 – Next year, you can join the fun from Saturday, September 21st to Sunday, October 6th.
- Oktoberfest 2025 – In 2025, the excitement runs from Saturday, September 20th to Sunday, October 5th.
- Oktoberfest 2026 – Mark your calendar for September 19th to October 4th in 2026.
- Oktoberfest 2027 – Keep the tradition alive by attending from Saturday, September 18th to Sunday, October 3rd in 2027.
- Oktoberfest 2028 – Extend your stay in 2028 as Oktoberfest runs from Saturday, September 16th to Tuesday, October 3rd.
- Oktoberfest 2029 – The merriment continues from Saturday, September 22nd to Sunday, October 7th in 2029.
- Oktoberfest 2030 – Experience the festival from Saturday, September 21st to Sunday, October 6th in 2030.
- Oktoberfest 2031 – Celebrate from Saturday, September 20th to Sunday, October 5th in 2031.
- Oktoberfest 2032 – Join the festivities from Saturday, September 18th to Sunday, October 3rd in 2032.
- Oktoberfest 2033 – In 2033, Oktoberfest takes place from Saturday, September 17th to Monday, October 3rd, offering an extended celebration.
- Oktoberfest 2034 – Lastly, in 2034, the festival spans from Saturday, September 16th to Tuesday, October 3rd, allowing for ample time to indulge in all that Bavarian gemütlichkeit.
Now that you have these dates at your fingertips, you can plan your language-learning journey and Oktoberfest experience well in advance. Prost to a decade of unforgettable moments at this iconic German celebration!
History of Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest traces its roots back to a royal wedding on October 12, 1810, when Bavaria's Crown Prince Ludwig tied the knot with Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festivities concluded five days later with horse races on Theresienwiese (“Therese’s meadow”) field. In 1811, an agricultural fair was added to the horse races. By 1818, food and drink stands opened, launching the festival we know today.
Now the world's largest Volksfest attracting over six million people, Oktoberfest is overflowing with Bavarian Gemütlichkeit. From beer halls to brass bands, it's a celebration of German heritage.
Oktoberfest Tickets & Reservations
Entering Oktoberfest is completely free, and you won't need any tickets to access the venue. However, please be prepared for security checks at the entrance, where bags are inspected to ensure everyone's safety.
"Oide Wiesn," a nostalgic section of Oktoberfest located on the southern side of the venue, was introduced during the 200-year anniversary celebration of Oktoberfest in 2010. This section does have a separate entry fee of 4 euros, with children under 14 years old enjoying free admission. Additionally, fairground rides within the Oide Wiesn cost only 1 euro each.
You won't encounter entry fees or the need for tickets to enter the beer tents too, both large and small. Reservations are generally unnecessary, except in cases of overcrowding when the tents may temporarily close.
Fairground rides are individually priced, and you can purchase ride tokens at the respective cash registers before enjoying the attractions.
Avoid purchasing tickets from third-party vendors for Oktoberfest. It's best to obtain your entry and ride tokens directly at the festival to ensure authenticity and a hassle-free experience.
With all the dancing, singing, and merriment, you're bound to work up quite an appetite. We've got you covered with a list of delectable Oktoberfest treats to tantalize your taste buds:
- Hendl – Succulent and golden, a crispy-skinned roasted chicken that pairs perfectly with a cold beer.
- Schweinshaxe – A crispy, roasted pork knuckle with tender meat beneath, a true Bavarian delicacy.
- Würstl – Sausages in various shapes and flavors, a savory and satisfying snack.
- Pretzel – Soft, doughy, and sprinkled with coarse salt, these pretzels are a must-try.
- Obatzda – Creamy, cheesy, and full of flavor, this spread complements your pretzels like a dream.
- Apfelstrudel – Finish your meal with a sweet note, a warm, flaky pastry filled with spiced apples and nostalgia.
But let's not forget the real star of the show – the beer! Over 7 million liters are consumed annually at Oktoberfest.
The signature Märzen lager was originally brewed in March and lagered until September, hence the name. This aromatic amber lager goes down smoothly with hints of malt and toffee.
Beyond Märzen, you can sample wheat beers like refreshing hefeweizens with hints of banana and clove. Or try smooth, roasty dunkels and crisp, pale helles lagers. With roots dating to German purity laws of 1516, these brews showcase craftsmanship passed down for generations.
However, Oktoberfest isn't just about beer. For those who don't indulge in alcohol but still want to savor the festivities, there are delightful options:
Radler: This thirst-quenching blend of lager and lemonade offers a zesty and refreshing alternative to traditional beer. It's perfect for staying cool on a warm festival day.
Juices: If you're looking for non-alcoholic choices, various fruit juices such as apple and cranberry are readily available. They provide a burst of flavor without the alcohol content, making them suitable for all ages.
So, whether you're a beer enthusiast or prefer non-alcoholic options, Oktoberfest has a wide range of beverages to keep you refreshed and in the spirit of celebration. With 15 massive tents to explore, you're sure to find the perfect drink to suit your taste.
P.S. Sip smartly and stay hydrated between beers. Water is free from the pumps scattered around the grounds.
Dressing for the Festival
At Oktoberfest, dressing the part is like joining a centuries-old tradition in a lively, cultural performance.
- For gentlemen, it's all about knee-high socks, button-down shirts, and feathered hats complementing their lederhosen (leather shorts).
- Ladies wear blouses, aprons, and headscarves to complete their dirndls (a feminine garment featuring a gracefully gathered skirt paired with a snugly tailored bodice).
Dressing the part adds to the spirited atmosphere! But regular party clothes work too if you'd prefer not to put on lederhosen. The festival embraces all forms of celebration, and your enthusiasm is what truly counts. Just be sure to bring your cheerful mood and hearty appetite for bratwurst and beer, and you'll fit right in.
But here's a fun twist. There's a secret language in the way you tie your dirndl apron. Tying it on the left signals you're single, right means you're taken (married or in a relationship), and the middle is for the ladies who are still undecided (or it’s none of your business). The knot elegantly secured at the back's center of the apron holds special significance, often worn by widows, waitstaff, or young ones.
Oktoberfest Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts
Navigating the vibrant and bustling atmosphere of Oktoberfest is a breeze when you know the dos and don'ts.
- First and foremost, remember to reserve your table at a beer tent well in advance if you plan to enjoy a sit-down meal. Having a spot ensures you won't miss out on the festivities.
- As you settle in, don't forget to make eye contact and offer a friendly "Prost!" to your fellow revelers before taking a sip. Oktoberfest is all about camaraderie, and this simple gesture sets the tone for a lively time.
- Feel free to strike up conversations with strangers – after all, this is a place where friendships blossom over shared steins.
However, it's equally important to remember the festival's unwritten rules.
- First, do not get drunk. While the beer flows freely, it's crucial to know your limits – not only for your safety but also for the well-being of those around you. Nobody wants to be the one escorted out for overindulging.
- Second, avoid being rude or obnoxious. Disrespectful behavior, loudness, or annoying conduct can lead to being swiftly kicked out of the tent or even the festival itself. So, keep Gemütlichkeit (coziness and warm hospitality) in mind, and you'll fit right in.
- Cutting lines is a big no-no; patience is key, and everyone gets their turn.
- Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, so save the smooches for somewhere more private.
- Never stand or dance on the tables. This is a rule that's strictly enforced to maintain safety and order.
- Resist the temptation to take a beer glass with you as a souvenir. Although they make excellent keepsakes, security guards at the festival exits conduct bag searches. If they find a beer glass, it's considered petty theft, and you could find yourself in trouble.
So, embrace the festive spirit, follow these guidelines, and you'll have unforgettable Oktoberfest memories.
Celebrate Oktoberfest Worldwide
If you can’t make it to Munich this year, join the party at local Oktoberfest events across the globe, bringing the joy of Bavaria to your doorstep.
In the United States, cities like Cincinnati, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, host massive Oktoberfest celebrations with parades, music, and, of course, plenty of beer and sausages.
In Brazil, the city of Blumenau boasts the second-largest Oktoberfest celebration worldwide, complete with traditional Bavarian costumes and dance performances.
Down under in Australia, Melbourne's Oktoberfest attracts thousands with its beer halls and hearty German cuisine.
Even in Asia, Tokyo and Seoul have their own versions of Oktoberfest, where you can find local and international brews, along with sausages and sauerkraut.
So, no matter where you are, chances are there's an Oktoberfest celebration nearby, ready for you to join in the fun.
How to Celebrate Oktoberfest at Home
Can't make it to a festival? Create your own Bavarian bash right in your living room or backyard:
- Shop for German beer - Pick up an array of lagers, Märzen, Pilsners and Radlers.
- Make soft pretzels - Knead dough, form twists, and boil + bake for an authentic treat.
- Grill sausages and sauerkraut - Bratwurst, knockwurst and hot dogs with tangy kraut capture the flavors.
- Decorate your space - Use banners, flags and flowers in white and blue for Bavarian flair.
- Curate an Oktoberfest playlist - Add polka, folk, and German beer drinking songs to set the mood.
- Host a virtual party - Video call friends and family to join in the spirit no matter where they are.
With good company, food and drinks, you can recreate the Gemütlichkeit of Oktoberfest wherever you are!
The Language of Oktoberfest: Key German Phrases
As you immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Oktoberfest, you'll encounter a unique set of words that add to the festival's charm. These Oktoberfest phrases reflect the rich traditions and Bavarian culture that define the event:
- Prost! - This is the quintessential German word for "Cheers!" Raise your stein and clink glasses with fellow festival-goers while saying "Prost!" for a hearty toast.
- Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi hoi hoi! (Tsick-a tsack-a, tsick-a tsack-a, hoy hoy hoy) is one of popular Oktoberfest cheers examples. This lively band chant is often accompanied by a cheerful "Prost!" and an enthusiastic gulp of beer.
- Noch eins! - When you're enjoying the festival's delightful brews, you might find yourself wanting "Noch eins!" which means "Another one!" Feel free to use this phrase liberally.
- Oans, zwoa, g'suffa! - This playful phrase is all about counting drinks. It translates to "One, two, down the hatch!" It's often chanted enthusiastically during drinking games.
- O'zapft is! - When you hear someone shout "O'zapft is!" it means "The beer is tapped!" This is the official signal that Oktoberfest has begun.
- Gemütlichkeit - This is a wonderfully German concept that encapsulates coziness, warmth, and hospitality. It's what you'll feel as you share a beer and conversation with friends at Oktoberfest.
- Wiesn - Short for Theresienwiese, the festival grounds where all the action takes place. Locals often refer to Oktoberfest as “die Wiesn.”
- Bierzelt - If you're looking for a place to enjoy your beer and some traditional Bavarian music, head to a "Bierzelt" or beer tent.
- Bierleiche - This humorous term refers to someone who has indulged a bit too much and is now a "beer corpse" – someone who's passed out from enjoying too much beer.
- Biergarten - An outdoor area where beer and food are served, often shaded by trees. Example: “The Biergarten provided a relaxing spot to enjoy the festivities.”
- Tracht - Refers to traditional Bavarian clothing like lederhosen for men and dirndls for women. Example: “Many attendees donned Tracht to celebrate in style.”
- Ein Maß bitte! - If you're ready to order a liter of beer, say "Ein Maß bitte!" which means “One liter, please!”
- Guten Appetit! - When the delicious food arrives at your table, wish everyone "Guten Appetit!" It's the German way of saying “Enjoy your meal!”
- Ich liebe Oktoberfest! - Express your love for the festival with "Ich liebe Oktoberfest!" which means “I love Oktoberfest!”
- Zum Wohl! - An alternative to "Prost," "Zum Wohl!" also means "Cheers!" and is widely used during toasts.
- Lass uns feiern! - When you're ready to party, say "Lass uns feiern!" It means “Let's celebrate!”
Learning these Oktoberfest terms will not only enhance your festival experience but also make you feel like a local. So, whether you're raising your glass, counting drinks, or simply soaking in the Gemütlichkeit, these words will have you celebrating in true Bavarian style!
Essential German Phrases for Tourists
Apart from knowing Oktoberfest sayings in German, while visiting Germany, a few basic phrases can make your travel experience more enjoyable. In addition to the familiar "Danke" (Thank you) and "Hallo" (Hello), here are some other must-know phrases:
- Bitte - "Please" - Politeness is universally appreciated, so use "Bitte" when making requests.
- Entschuldigung - "Excuse me" or "I'm sorry" - Handy for getting someone's attention or apologizing if you bump into someone.
- Guten Morgen - "Good morning" - A polite greeting to start your day.
- Guten Tag - "Good day" or "Hello" - Appropriate for use throughout the day.
- Guten Abend - "Good evening" - Perfect for evening greetings.
- Auf Wiedersehen - "Goodbye" - A polite way to bid farewell.
- Tschüss - "Bye." - A casual way to say farewell.
- Bis bald - "See you soon!" - Perfect for leaving the door open to future meetings.
- Sprechen Sie Englisch? - "Do you speak English?" - Useful for inquiring about language capabilities.
- Wo ist...? - "Where is...?" - A helpful phrase when seeking directions to a specific place.
- Wie viel kostet das? - "How much does this cost?" - Useful when shopping or dining.
- Hilfe! - "Help!" - In case of emergencies or when you need assistance.
- Wie heißt du? - "What is your name?" - A great icebreaker when meeting new people.
- Mein Name ist ... - "My name is ..." - Share your name in response to the previous question.
- Wie geht's? - "How are you?" - A friendly way to check in on someone's well-being.
- Ich möchte ein Bier. - "I’d like a beer." - Essential for enjoying German hospitality.
- Ich hätte gerne ein/zwei/drei/vier/fünf Maß Biere bitte! - “I would like one/two/three/four/five beer please!”
To practice your German at Oktoberfest, strike up conversations with locals, use the common phrases we've provided, and don't be shy about trying out your language skills while ordering food and drinks. Germans often appreciate it when visitors make an effort to use their language, even if it's just a few words.
While German (Deutsch) is the primary language spoken at Oktoberfest, Bavarian greetings add a charming regional flavor to the festivities. Here are ten unique Bavarian phrases to help you blend in with the locals:
- Grias god (Grüß Gott) - This friendly greeting is a Bavarian alternative to the standard "Hallo" or "Hello" and is often accompanied by a warm smile.
- Servus - Bavarians use "Servus" to say both "Hello" and "Goodbye," making it a versatile and commonly heard expression.
- Pfiat di - When saying farewell to someone, you can use "Pfiat di," which means "Goodbye" in Bavarian.
- Moizaid (Mahlzeit) - A mealtime greeting, "Moizaid" is used to wish others a hearty appetite before enjoying a delicious Bavarian meal.
- Guadn moing (Guten Morgen) - A warm way to wish someone a "Good morning" in Bavarian.
- Guadn åmd (Guten Abend) - Use this phrase to say "Good afternoon" or "Good evening" in the Bavarian dialect.
- Guad nåhd (Gute Nacht) - Before bedtime, share a friendly "Good night" in Bavarian by saying "Guad nåhd."
- Via ged's eana? (Wie geht’s Ihnen?) - In a formal context, you can inquire about someone's well-being using this phrase, which translates to "How are you?"
- Via ged's? (Wie geht’s?) - For a more casual or informal setting, you can use this variation to ask "How are you?" in Bavarian.
- Dang šee - To express gratitude in Bavarian, you can say "Dang šee," which means "thank you."
- A Maß - When you're ready for another litre of beer, you can simply ask for "a Maß," which means "a litre of beer."
- Vo is as glo? - After indulging in a few beers, you might need to find the restroom. This phrase will come in handy when you're looking for it.
- Buam / Madln - When you arrive at the restroom, you'll notice signs indicating "Buam" for Men and "Madln" for Women, helping you choose the right door.
- Schau ma moi - If you're unsure about something or want to keep your options open, you can use this phrase, which means "We'll see."
- Das d’ mid mia dånzn? - If you want to invite someone to dance with you to Bavarian music, this phrase will come in handy for a delightful dance.
- Duad ma laid - To apologize for something in Bavarian, you can use this phrase to express your regret.
Funny Oktoberfest Sayings
Get ready to add a dose of humor to your Oktoberfest Instagram posts! Whether you're clinking steins, devouring pretzels, or showcasing your finest dirndl or lederhosen, these witty Oktoberfest sayings will leave your followers in stitches:
- Prost to beer, pretzels, and pretending we know German!
- I'm here for the beer and brats, but mostly the beer.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
- Dirndl: Because who doesn't love dressing like a beer princess?
- Pour decisions were made at Oktoberfest.
- Beer: Brew, enjoy, empty, repeat.
- My Oktoberfest outfit is 90% pretzel crumbs, and I'm okay with that.
- Finding my inner beer-self at Oktoberfest.
- When in doubt, just say 'Prost!'
- Oktoberfest: the only place where drinking beer at 9am is socially acceptable.
- Sorry, I can't. Oktoberfest calls.
- A balanced diet is a beer in each hand.
- Don't worry beer happy!
These humorous captions will not only showcase your Oktoberfest adventures but also bring a smile to your followers' faces.
Study German with Promova
Remember, while you're celebrating Oktoberfest, you can also take your language skills to the next level with Promova. Check out our interactive German language learning app. With bite-sized lessons, you'll master conversational phrases and vocabulary for real-world interactions. Explore our platform to find helpful resources to help you learn and master German, the language of Oktoberfest.
Enjoying Oktoberfest Responsibly
While the exuberance of Oktoberfest is contagious, it's essential to prioritize safety and well-being.
- First and foremost, drink responsibly. The beer served here is strong, and it's easy to lose track of how much you've had. Pace yourself, stay hydrated with water between beers, and know your limits. It's not a race; it's a celebration.
- Health-wise, be mindful of your surroundings. The festival can get crowded, so keep an eye on your belongings to avoid any mishaps.
- If you're feeling unwell or need assistance, find the festival's medical stations, where trained staff can provide help.
- Finally, consider wearing comfortable shoes for all that dancing and walking – your feet will thank you.
Oktoberfest is a time for joy and camaraderie, so by taking care of yourself and those around you, you can ensure an unforgettable and safe experience.
Each September, Munich welcomes millions for the world's largest Volksfest. Oktoberfest is more than just a beer festival; it's a cultural extravaganza that offers plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the German language and culture. Now it's time to don your dirndl, cheers "O'zapft is!" and join the Gemütlichkeit. Prost to new experiences and language learning adventures!
When is Oktoberfest 2023?
Oktoberfest 2023 runs from September 16 to October 3 in Munich, Germany.
What is O'zapft is meaning at Oktoberfest?
"O'zapft is" is Bavarian dialect for "It's tapped!" It's the traditional phrase used to announce the start of Oktoberfest when the first keg is tapped, and the beer begins to flow.
What is there to do at Oktoberfest besides drinking beer?
Attractions include carnival rides, parades, music performances, traditional costumes, German food, shopping for souvenirs, and enjoying the festive atmosphere.
What is the traditional Oktoberfest greeting?
The traditional German greeting at Oktoberfest is "O'zapft is!" which means "The beer is tapped!" It declares the start of beer flowing.
What does "Gemütlichkeit" mean?
"Gemütlichkeit" is a delightful German term often associated with Oktoberfest. It encompasses a sense of coziness, warmth, and conviviality. In the context of the festival, "Gemütlichkeit" reflects the welcoming and friendly atmosphere where people come together to enjoy good food, great company, and, of course, fantastic beer. It's the feeling of being comfortable, relaxed, and in high spirits while celebrating the traditions and camaraderie of Oktoberfest.