Oktoberfest is possibly the world’s most famous beer festival, taking place in fall in Munich, Germany. Around one million partygoers pour into the city between mid-September and the first Sunday in October for 2.5 weeks of serious carousing and drinking; the epicenter of the merrymaking is Theresienwiese (‘Wiesn’ for short) festival ground just to the west of the Altstadt (Old Town). Here local Bavarian breweries sponsor 14 gaily decorated tents – each accommodating up to 6,000 beery revelers – with their own theme and local beer to sample in one-liter (2.2-pint) glass steins. As the hours pass by, the vibe ramps up and singing and dancing become the order of the day.
But Oktoberfest is not just for drinkers; there are fairgrounds for kids, costumed parades through the streets, an abundance of Bavarian folk costumes – dirndl skirts and leather shorts – to be admired, brass-band concerts and horse-and-trap rides. There’s plenty of food on offer to soak up the alcohol, from traditional Bavarian bratwurst to venison and seafood – the steckerlfisch (fish on a stick) is a specialty of the region – as well as delicious patisseries.
Although Oktoberfest is the biggest event at Wiesn, other festivals are held here. Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) is a practice run for Oktoberfest running from mid-April to early May, while the Tollwood winter festival sees the appearance of one of the world’s biggest Christmas markets.
Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt, Munich. To be sure of a seat, get to Wiesn early – the gates open at 10am – to claim a table. Munich gets congested during Oktoberfest so don’t consider driving to the venue. Walk from the Altstadt (Old Town) or take the U-Bahn Line 6 to Poccistrasse, which runs every ten minutes.