Munich, the beer capital of the world, is Germany’s third largest and most prosperous city. It is known for being the headquarters of industry giants, such as BMW, Siemens, Munich RE, Allianz and other world leading corporations. It’s also known for one of the worldwide best organised and most popular football clubs, the FC Bayern Munich. Nevertheless, most of the world knows the Bavarian capital for the world’s biggest beer festival – the Oktoberfest.
One can’t say enough about the meaning and the importance of the traditional beer festival in many aspects for Munich, the Free State of Bavaria and Germany as a whole. The Oktoberfest 2016 is set to take place for the 183rd time from Saturday, September 17th until Monday October 3rd (the Day of German Reunification). If you are planning to visit the festival this year, you’ll find information on the most important things to know in advance below.
When to Visit the Oktoberfest 2016
The Oktoberfest usually lasts sixteen days, in 2016 it is set to last one day longer and will so include Monday, October 3 a German public holiday when the country remembers its reunification after the fall of the Berlin wall. In 2017, the festival is set to last eighteen days for the same reason. You can choose the day at which you’d like to visit the “Wiesn”, as locals call the festival because of the Theresienwiese where it takes place, depending on how much action you want to witness. The below illustration, entitled “Wiesn-Zelte-Barometer 2016”, tells you how much action is expected on the Oktoberfest grounds on each day of the festival. The red fields with the exclamation mark stand for the times when the tents are expected to be crowded and the queues at the various fairground attractions are expected to be the longest.
Main Oktoberfest Tents, Seat Reservation and Oktoberfest Google Map
There are fourteen main tents at the Oktoberfest and they are all listed and briefly described below. Although it is at times hard to find a table during visitor peaks at the Oktoberfest, you will most likely find a spot. If you are visiting the festival with a group, you should book your seat in advance. To do that, you have to contact the makers of the respective tent, as there is no reservation office. You can do this from here, and you can do it in English. It is customary to make a reservation for groups of more than ten people, whereby beer and chicken coupons are bought in advance and then redeemed in the tent. However, not every seat in the large tents can be reserved: From Monday to Friday, a third of seats in the centre of the tents are kept free for spontaneous visitors; on Saturdays, Sundays and on the Day of German Unity (3 October) no seats can be reserved there. The reservation is for free, but you are expected to consume two Mass (2x1l) of beer and a grilled chicken half, which together cost €25. But you can skip the whole procedure if you are up to 4-5 people. A Mass of beer will cost up to €10.40 this year. Here’s the mentioned list of the main tents:
For a cosy and traditional experience, head for the Augustiner Festzelt. Its particularly authentic atmosphere is partly thanks to the fact that the beer served here comes from Munich’s oldest brewery and is still tapped from classic wooden kegs. The regional delicacies and the friendly waiters and waitresses also make the Augustiner tent one of the most rustic of them all.
Run by the shooting club ‘Winzerer Fähndl Schützengilde’ it is providing room to accommodate around 7,500 people. Decorated in the unmistakable style of the Alpine foothills, the German crossbow championships are traditionally held here every year during the Oktoberfest. The meat for the Bavarian delicacies comes entirely from their own livestock and great attention is paid to ensuring the quality is carefully monitored.
If you feel like sampling something other than the traditional roast chicken, pretzels and other standard fare, the highly traditional tent of Fischer-Vroni is just the place. As well as the usual Oktoberfest delights, the menu includes numerous fish dishes and, of course, the original Bavarian Steckerlfisch (fish on a stick) – a typical speciality. This rustic and cosy tent is not quite as loud as the big beer tents.
It truly is the heaven of the Bavarians: the Hacker Festzelt. With its famous white and blue ceiling, which was designed by Oscar winner Rolf Zehetbauer and can even be opened up depending on the weather, it is one of the most famous tents of the Okotberfest. It provides room for around 9,300 guests and is the size of a football pitch. The Hacker tent remains firmly in Munich hands and also attracts many young visitors.
The Hofbräuhaus is known far beyond the borders of Bavaria, with its reputation extending around the world. The same goes for the Hofbräu Festzelt. Almost 10,000 people can be accommodated here and there’s even a standing area for enjoying a swift litre of beer. The ceiling is decorated every year with 16 tonnes of hops, in the middle of which the angel Aloisius sings his grumpy hosanna.
Käfer Wies'n Schänke
The Wies'n Schänke run by the delicatessen company Käfer is not really a proper tent because it is made from solid wood and is more reminiscent of an old farmhouse. It was set up at the Oktoberfest for the first time in 1971 and offers space indoors and outdoors for a total of 3,000 guests. In addition to beer, champagne is also appropriately served to accompany the delicatessen and various specialities.
Wine and beer make for a great mood! For 200 years now, people who like drinking wine have also been enjoying the world’s largest festival. The Weinzelt (wine tent) also looks quite different from the neighbouring tents – instead of beer benches, guests sit in u-shaped wooden booths, reminiscent of a Franconian wine garden.
Although it’s pretty hard not to spot the Löwenbräu-Festzelt with its 37-metre high tower, you certainly can’t fail to hear it. Above the entrance sits a mighty lion which roars its unmistakable “Lööööwenbräu” every minute for all to hear. It therefore comes as no surprise that the players of TSV 1860, better known as ‘die Löwen’ (the lions), are regular guests here.
Say "hello" to the newcomer on the Oktoberfest: The Marstall-Festzelt. Everybody is curious how this replacement for the Hippodrom will actually turn out. The new tent with a capacity of more than 4.000 seats takes its name from the former riding school of the Bavarian court, built by famous architect Leo von Klenze in the 19th century. So it's no big surprise that the Marstall's design is "horse"-themed. Some visitors, though, might be more interested in the Spaten beer and typical Bavarian delicacies served here.
Paulanerbräu (Winzerer Fähndl)
The Paulanerbräu Zelt, also known as the Winzerer Fähndl, can be easily spotted from a distance because of the huge beer tankard that rotates on top of the tent’s tower. This lovingly decorated tent is especially renowned for its extremely cosy atmosphere and has a large number of regular guests, including the players of FC Bayern Munich. The clientele e is traditionally a little older – one reason why it is so easygoing here and not quite as wild as in the other tents.
Known popularly as simply Bräurosl, this tent was named in honour of Rosi Pschorr, the daughter of the brewery owner and former publican here at the Oktoberfest. In the Festhalle Pschorr particular importance is attached to the musical entertainment, which traditionally features the tent’s very own a female yodeller. Another tradition, albeit a fairly recent one, is serving as the meeting place of the gay community on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest.
The Schottenhamel is the oldest and most traditional tent, with the Schottenhamel family being represented at the Oktoberfest since as far back as 1867. Ever year sees the traditional tapping of the first keg of beer by the Mayor of Munich. On average the public that attends is very young and student-oriented, making the tent a popular meeting place for young people.
New and yet as rustic as can be, the Schützenzelt was renovated in 2004 and extended to accommodate 700 people. The traditional Oktoberfest shooting competition of the Bavarian Sport Shooting Association takes place here and guests can watch the action at the 110 shooting stands. Because the garden of the Schützenzelt is protected against the wind, it is still pleasantly cosy outdoors even when the weather is cool.
Oxen have formed the focal point at the Ochsenbraterei for the last 130 years, with some 90 of these highly prized horned animals being consumed over the course of the Oktoberfest. Each ox is personally selected by the owner from the municipal estate of Gut Karlshof. In keeping with tradition, the first ox that is consumed at the Oktoberfest bears the name of the butcher, the last the name of the chef.
The Oktoberfest Google Map below shows the exact position of each of the mentioned main tents and most of the smaller tents as well.
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day noon - 10.30pm
Weekdays 10am - 10.30pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 9am - 10.30pm
Daily closing hour 11.30pm 'Käfers Wiesnschänke' and 'Weinzelt' 1.00am
Opening Hours of Stalls
Opening day 10am - midnight
Monday - Thursday 10am - 11.30pm
Friday 10am – midnight
Saturday 9am - midnight
Sunday 9am - 11.30pm
Opening day noon - midnight
Monday - Thursday 10am - 11.30pm
Friday, Saturday 10am – midnight
Sunday 10am - 11.30pm
End of Oktoberfest
Monday, October 3rd, 2016 11.30 pm
Besides being the country’s most prosperous city, Munich is also the most expensive one to live at and to visit, especially so during the Oktoberfest. You should book your accommodation well in advance and see that you book a place close to public transportation stations. Whether you are planning to stay at one of the best hotels in town or if you want to stay at a budget hotel or hostel, you can begin your search here, in our Accommodation section.
The 2016 Oktoberfest Alternative
If you have already been to the Oktoberfest or are planning to visit the Bavarian capital in July, this year there will be another beer festival in Munich to mark 500 years of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot). the 500th anniversary of the Bavarian Beer Purity Law is going to be celebrated throughout Germany, Bavaria and Munich. At the Bavarian capital a three-day beer festival is set to take place from July 22-24. The festival has been officially branded “Festival of Bavarian Beer Culture".
The Bavarian brewing industry prepared well for the occasion. Some 100 Bavarian breweries will be presenting their best beers in the area of the Feldherrnhalle and the Odeonsplatz in downtown Munich. For three days, thousands of visitors can enjoy the beer diversity of Bavaria at the beer benches between white pagodas and high-class tents.