Oktoberfest is one of the more well-known festivals in Germany, but many international visitors are not aware of some of the basic facts about it. Here are some of the most important ones:
1. The festival is held in Munich on the Theresienwiese and is known locally as the ‘Wiesn’. The nearest U-Bahn station is also called Theresienwiese.
2. It starts on the first Saturday after 15th September, and continues until the first Sunday in October. If the first Sunday is the 1st or the 2nd, the festival is extended to 3rd October as this is a public holiday.
3. The marquees on the fairground where the beer is served get very full. To reserve a place in some of them you need to buy vouchers for food and drink in advance. The minimum is currently €26.80 per visitor.
4. The hotels in Munich are very full at this time. In fact, many visitors will have booked their rooms a year in advance, meaning that you need to arrange your accommodation as soon as possible to avoid being left without a roof over your head! Expect to pay premium prices.
5. Smoking is prohibited in the marquees. As the numbers allowed in them are limited, smokers who go outside may find they cannot return to their seats.
6. The beer is served in a glass called a Maß which holds 1 litre and is slightly stronger than is usually served in Munich. One litre costs between €8.30 and €8.90 (in 2010).
7. Glasses are much sought-after souvenirs, but are the property of the respective landlord. Security guards at the entrance to each marquee are instructed to watch out for people taking them. Being caught with one often ends if a charge of theft. (It is possible to buy one, which is then labelled to show it has been paid for).
8. Soft drinks are almost as expensive as the beer. A litre of water costs on average €7.30, a litre of Spezi will cost you around €7.90.
9. Food served in the marquees is usually more expensive than that sold at stands on other parts of the fairground. Half a roasted chicken will set you back about €8, just on its own. Generally the food served is traditional Bavarian fare.
10. The landlords are allowed to charge their guests for the use of the toilets!