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Germany can be a fun place to visit any time of the year!
The Festival of the Gods, page 2
By Lucy Corne
Sufficiently stuffed, we agreed it was time to do what we came for and headed to perhaps the most grandiose of the 14 beer halls – the Löwenbräu tent, with its huge roaring lion keeping watch outside. We were instantly swept up by the party atmosphere: an Oom-Pah band played on the stage, while buxom waitresses and not-so buxom pretzel salesmen squeezed between the long tables filled with gleeful drinkers. It was everything I had imagined, though we did hit a bit of a snag. We’d spent too long filling our faces outside and by the time we ventured in we found that there wasn’t a single spare seat in the 6,000 capacity room.
We contemplated spending the afternoon standing, but doubted we’d be able to keep it up for long while gripping on to a two-liter mug filled with the amber nectar. Even if our biceps had been up to the challenge, we learned that Oktoberfest has a ‘no seat, no beer’ policy, so we left the party feeling a little deflated and tried our luck in the next tent. Of course, it boasted the same glorious atmosphere but also the same sad story – every seat was either taken or reserved. But a kindly waitress, not yet tired of drunken revellers, came to our aid and told us to grab an empty table until the reserved party arrived at 4pm. We were soon joined by others who’d failed to secure a seat and it seemed that the gods of beer and good times were smiling on us, since the rightful patrons of our table never actually arrived.
Oktoberfest is not just about getting drunk, nor is it about making yourself sick on junk food and carnival rides. The famous festival draws revellers from across the globe who come with no other agenda than to have a good time. A couple of steins help wash away the inhibitions that usually stop people from attempting to speak other tongues and you soon find yourself in a cultural exchange, swapping language lessons and drinking etiquette from around the world.
By the end of the evening our 10-seat table contained at least 20 people, hailing from the UK, the USA, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Japan and yes, even a couple of people from Germany. A cocktail of half a dozen European languages diluted with a lot of beer became the lingua franca for the evening, though for the most part only one word was really needed as we stood on the benches and swayed to a blend of traditional Bavarian folk music and some German pop from the 80s – prost!
Oktoberfest proceedings start and end early and with a punctuality that only Germany seems capable of sticking to. The beer stopped flowing at 10.30 and by 11.30 we were making out way to our modest hotel, trying to avoid stepping on the bierleichen (literally ‘beer corpses’). Plenty of tourists fail to allow for the high alcohol content of Oktoberfest beers and end the night unceremoniously passed out under benches, later to be taken to the medical tents equipped for just this occasion.
The following day we made the most of the buffet-style breakfast and headed back to the scene that had left us nursing mild hangovers. In retrospect I really wished I’d sampled the rides before we ventured into the beer tents the day before, since they’d lost some of their appeal the morning after. But we only had one more afternoon in Munich, so were determined to at least brave the big wheel before we left, hangover or not.
Surveying the scenes of revelry from the top of the carousel I remembered the high expectations I’d had for Oktoberfest. I’d expected the world’s biggest party, some fine beer, entertaining company and enough unhealthy snacks to stave off a hangover. And unlike New Year’s Eve, Oktoberfest delivered in every way.
Read the Oktoberfest tips - Five ways to get the most from Oktoberfest
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