Attending the Oktoberfest as a tourist is a blast, whether it’s your first time or not. It’s a unique and fulfilling experience that will let you enjoy the German culture and the Oktoberfest atmosphere.
But if there’s an experience that most Oktoberfest goers from other countries don’t experience, it’s attending and enjoying Wiesn madhouse like a local.
To help you enjoy a far more unique Wiesn that only locals experience, we’ve compiled a list of tips to enjoy Oktoberfest like a local.
It may be the Oktoberfest, but it starts in September.
Most people think that Oktoberfest is in October because of its name, but actually, Oktoberfest starts in September. While the first Oktoberfests were in October, the authorities changed it to September because of longer days and warmer weather.
It’s the Wiesn
It’s known as Oktoberfest for tourists, but most locals call it the Wiesn. Why? Because Wiesn translates to “the meadow” in German, and the Wiesn is held at the Theresienwiese, a vast meadow.
Know the tents
Many beer tents are opened during the Oktoberfest, with each one having a unique vibe and atmosphere. Most tourists go to Hofbrauhaus, while locals go to the Augustiner. If you want to experience Oktoberfest like a local, going to where the locals go is a great way to immerse yourself in the community. To make it easier to choose a tent, make sure you have a certified guide with you, like Thirsty Swagman.
Get there very, very early if you don’t have a reservation.
Ideally, you should make a reservation before the Oktoberfest. But, in case you don’t have one, you need to be there very early to have any chances of making it into a tent. Did you know that locals line up outside as early as 6 AM, sometimes even 5 AM, and that’s even though the gates only open at 9 AM? So, if you don’t have a reservation, try to be there as early as you can.
Mind your timing
The tents open at 10 AM on weekdays and 9 AM on weekends, but don’t let the tents’ large sizes fool you; they get full fast, especially on weekends. While the night is also fun, if you want to catch the locals, you’re better off going there on weekday afternoons.
Avoid the Italian Weekend
Oktoberfest’s Italian Week is during the 2nd week of the event. If you’re wondering why it’s called the Italian Weekend, it’s because it’s the time when Italian tourists arrive by the thousands, which essentially fills all tents with Italians. The Italian Weekend is so crazy that local police and medics need reinforcement. While there’s fun in the Italian Weekend, if you want to enjoy Oktoberfest like a local, it’s better off avoiding the Italian Weekend.
Oktoberfest is more enjoyable with other people. So, make sure to be friendly and try to talk to people who look friendly. If there are empty seats for you or your group at a table with other people, politely ask if you can join them. By immersing yourself in the local community and getting to know more people and their cultures.
Of course, be willing to do it the other way around. If you have seats available at your table, give them to other people, too.
Dress for Oktoberfest
During the Oktoberfest, you’ll see most locals in lederhosen and dirndls, as they are the traditional clothing for the occasion. If you’re a tourist, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t follow this tradition.
However, when shopping for lederhosen and dirndls, make sure to respect the local tradition by not getting ones that are too tacky or attention-grabbing. To gain the respect of the locals and feel the Oktoberfest, make sure to wear appropriate clothing for the event.
Of course, for women, take note that there’s a significance to where the bow on your dirndl is placed. If it’s on the left, you’re single. If it’s on the right, you’re taken.
Visit the Oide Wiesn
Most of the tents during Oktoberfest have the vibe of the modern event. But, if you want nostalgia and a bit of history, you should visit the Oide Wiesn, which is far from the frenzy of other tents. By visiting the Oide Wiesn, you can try traditional Bavarian cuisine, old-school rides, various activities, and the beer garden for folk music performances.
Of course, it’s not free, as entrance is around $4 for adults and free for children up to 14 years old. If you’re bringing younger children with you, you’re better off trying to go on a Tuesday’s Family Day from 10 AM to 7 PM for special prices and a more wholesome experience.
Know how to interact with waitresses
If you have a table, you don’t have to stand up to order drinks and food. But, if you’re standing, you don’t have table service, which means you need to order from the kitchen windows.
Furthermore, when talking to waitresses, make sure never to touch them, even when they don’t seem to notice you. It’s not easy being a waitress during the Oktoberfest, and strangers touching them will only make the job harder for them, and most likely, you’ll be yelled at, and everyone will be looking at you.
Oktoberfest Wiesn like a local
Going to the Oktoberfest is one of the most unique experiences you can ever have. To make it as authentic a German Wiesn experience as possible, the Thirsty Swagman can tour you around.