Blog, Europe, Germany, Helpful Tips, Photography, Tour and Travel

Destination Oktoberfest | Munich, Germany

2017:  16 September – 3 October

Oktoberfest.  The one word that easily conjures up visions of dirndl and lederhosen-wearing visitors raising up massive steins of frothy beverages and singing to the top of their lungs. This is Oktoberfest, More than six million visitors attend THE world’s largest festival every year loaded with thrilling rides, fantastic fest food and, of course, beer.   If you want to experience the festive party feeling along with the German culture then this is indeed the place to visit.  Even if you’re not much of a crowd person, you should put this on your bucket list and experience the awesome fest at least once.

Oktoberfest, Munich, dirndl
Germany, Oktoberfest

The very first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the October 12th marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese.  (October 12th also happens to be my birthday, so Oktoberfest was the perfect place for me to celebrate my birthday!)  Every year, the citizens of Munich were invited to join in the festivities which were held over a period of five days on the fields in front of the city gates. Over 40,000 people were in attendance. Today, an average of 6 million of people attend the annual celebration.

Bavaria, parade, lederhosen, festival
Bavaria lederhosen

Did you know horse races were held at the first Oktoberfest?  But by 1819 the horse races had been called off and were replaced by beer carts and the carnival-like atmosphere. Munich leaders decided that Oktoberfest would be held each year, no exceptions! Although Oktoberfest originated as a one-day celebration, it was extended to 16 days (starting in September) of revelry and heavy drinking.

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Beautifully adorned horses in Oktoberfest parade

Believe it or not, in the beginning, beer was not available at Oktoberfest and alcohol could only be purchased and enjoyed outside of the actual venue. Traditional beer halls (called wooden halls) only became popular when the authorities realized it would make sense to open the Oktoberfest venue to vendors.

Today, only six breweries – Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Lowenbrau, Paulaner and Spaten — are allowed to serve beer on the festival grounds.  The beers are made specifically for Oktoberfest and certain parameters must strictly be followed according to Reinheitsgebot such as it should be brewed within the boundaries of Munich and not contain more than 6% alcohol.

Once you are finished toasting with thousands of your newest friends, head on over to Marienplatz in the Munich Altstadt for traditional Bavarian-style craft beer and try one of the beer-infused dishes for dinner.

Average Festival Statistics:
Area: 103.79 acres
Festival halls: seats 100,000 (14 tents)
Visitors: 6.3 million
Beer: approx. 6.4 mln liters (that’s right, million)
Coffee, tea: 222,000 liters
Water, lemonade: 909,765 ½ liters
Chicken: 521,872 units
Pork sausages: 142,253 pairs
Oxen: 112
Calves:  48
travel photographer, bondgirlphotos, Oktoberfest, Germany, Munich, festivals
beer and chicken tickets

The most popular (legal) souvenirs are the collectors’ stone mug, hair bands with flowers, mini beer steins, and pins.  The glass mugs themselves are a hot item.  Security guards recovered approximately 112,000 from would-be souvenir hunters.  Many are not recovered; the Hofbräu tent alone averages 35,000 missing mugs each year and there is a fine for stealing them!

For all the information and full schedule of Oktoberfest events, go online at www.oktoberfest.de.  It’s recommended to learn at least one German song so you can sing along with your new best friends.  As is every year, there’s a hard competition about which song was the most popular in the beer tents. Apart from the usual hits, it was “Atemlos” by Helene Fischer, “Auf uns” by Andreas Bourani and “Brenna tuats guat” by Hubert von Goisern that made the tents go especially crazy.

Every year, more than 4,000 objects are found.  The Lost and Found office houses jackets, sweaters, passports, wallets, keys, ID cards, mobile phones, bags and rucksacks, cameras, eyeglasses, jewelry, and watches; there have also been some unusual items found, such as wedding-rings, petticoats, a dental prosthesis, a set of cymbals and a transport box for cats.  Missing kids and teenagers are taken care of by the Red Cross or municipal authorities until they are reunited.  During Oktoberfest, the Lost and Found (Wiesn-Fundbüro) service center is set up on the Theresienwiese (entrance line, underground). You can find the service center behind the Schottenhamel-Festzelt.

On Saturday, September 16th, the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be if you want to catch the official opening ceremonies. At noon, the Mayor of Munich will have the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Once the barrel has been tapped, all visitors will then be allowed to quench their thirst. It pays to arrive early in order to experience the festivities up close and personal and it’s quite common for visitors to arrive as early as 09.00 am to secure good seats in their favorite tent.  The festival lasts until October 3rd.

 

Opening hours?
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day 12:00 noon – 11:30 pm.  Last beer serving at 10:30
Weekdays 10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09:00 am – 10:30 pm
Daily closing hour 11.30 pm ‘Käfers Wiesnschänke’ and ‘Weinzelt’ open until 1.00 am

The fairgrounds are open on the opening day from 12:00 to 24:00.
On Sundays and Mondays to Thursdays, the carousels run from 10:00 to 23:30.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the fairgrounds are open from 10:00 to 24:00.

Please note that it is not advisable to bring children on weekends; for example, during the weekend, especially in the huts or even at the entrance to the Festwiese, you may be denied access by a baby carriage.

The official family days are on Tuesdays until 7 pm and offer reduced prices at almost all suppliers.

Current Weather (Wetter)

 

Plan ahead:

Oktoberfest 2018
22 September to 7 October

bondgirlphotos, Bavaria, festival, Germany, cattle drive, blumen, dirndl, Viescheid
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Party Til the Cows Come Home | Viehscheid | Bavaria, Germany

Viehscheid, the annual gathering of individual well-fed animals being driven down from the summer resort in the mountains into the valley. In the respective localities, the animals are gathered together on the so-called Scheidplatz; the shepherd “part” – that is separating the cattle out of the crowd and where every farmer gets his cattle back.

This unique, traditional experience is not to be missed!  Every year, in the Autumn Days of September, during the early morning hours across the majestic Bavarian Alps, Germany, the ceremonial driving of the cattle from the Alpine pastures into the valley brings families, locals and visitors alike, together. With 160+ functioning alpine homesteads in this area, it’s the largest festival of its kind!  The tradition dates back to the beginning of the early 1900s and continues today to ensure sustainability of the Bavarian grazing lands and the cows’ health and well-being.

The cattle drive in Oberstdorf is still the oldest tradition in the Upper Allgäu and the one at Schöllang is as familiar as ever. This tradition is as much a part of the village as the mountains are, and accordingly, is a fantastic festival in this region to look forward to each year.

More Cowbell! Cows, goats, horses and pigs.  The cattle are fitted with large bells to ward off any evil spirits they might come across on the return journey home, making quite the melody as they slowly and steadily plod their way back to their villages.  Everyone is all eyes on the Leading Beauty Queens from each herd. You’ll know her by the ornate headdress she’s adorned with colorful flowers or blumen.  It’s a sign of a good summer on the Alps when the cows are adorned with flowers and wreaths. This means no serious incidents or injuries occurred.   

After the parade, hundreds of cattle are separated and handed over by the proud, brawny herdsmen to their appropriate owners at the designated meeting point called the ‘Scheidplatz’.

The real party begins When the Cattle Drive is over! Folk fair, music, dancing, and lots of local food.  It’s common for seats at the tables to be filled as early as 10:00 a.m. as the festival has already been underway for a couple of hours.

The annual Cow Bell is presented to the best herdsman once the parade ends. The local oompah brass band entertains everyone in the large tent area where you’ll find brats, pretzels, and of course, beer. The festive atmosphere is something you will not soon likely forget and it is truly a unique experience. Get there early for a good view, then take a seat next to your new friends and … “Party Til the Cows Come Home.”

 

Almabtriebe and Viehscheid Dates – 2017

www.bavaria.by/almabtrieb-viehscheid-in-bavaria-all-dates

www.berchtesgadener-land.com/kultur/tradition-brauchtum/almsommer/almabtrieb

 

 

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This is Oktoberfest: The Biggest Party in the World!

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Have you been to Oktoberfest? Ever wish you could go? Here’s some tips on how to get there and survive the Biggest Party in the World!

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Follow the Romantic Road | Germany

Bundesstrasse 17 / Romantic Road Sign near Röm...
Bundesstrasse 17 / Romantic Road Sign near Römerkessel, Landreis Landsberg, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Follow the Romantic Road and follow your heart. On Germany’s most popular scenic drive you will find unspoiled nature, picturesque towns with medieval city walls, half-timbered houses, hidden monasteries, castles, and romantic hotels.

By auto or motor bike, this 261 mile long scenic route makes the journey your reward.

The Romantic Road leads you from the Franconia wine country in the north to the foothills of the majestic Bavarian Alps in the south.  Originally a trade route in the middle ages, it is strongly connected to Germany’s history.

For the foodies, a stop along the way for some mouth-watering schnitzel, brats or beer is a must! No trip would be complete without a visit to Wurzburg, the town northernmost on the Romantic Road. Here you will find beautiful architecture, fabulous restaurants, and a great winery in the famed Franken Wine Growing Region.  The Marianburg Fortress is located on top of a hill that overlooks the city and is located on the very site that the first church in Germany was built in 706 AD. The oldest part of the resdesigned fortress displays a blue dome which is reportedly from the eleventh century. The Residenz offers up the romanticism of the Baroque age and has a large well and garden that both date back to the year 1631.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is picture-perfect – the best preserved medieval town in Germany.  Walk atop the medieval wall that encircles the old city center, or go to the top of the historical Town Hall for a spectacular view of the region.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the place is called ...
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the place is called Plönlein a former marketplace, on the left side the Siebers-gate on the right the Kobolzeller-gate. This is one of the most photographed and painted places in Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Castle Hotel Colmberg: Spend a romantic night you won’t forget in the 1000 year old Castle.

Dinkelsbühl – The Old Town boasts 16 fortified towers, several authentic city gates, and an original ring wall.  At night, you can take a tour through the historical town with the night watchman while he goes on patrol in the illuminated city center.

Augsburg’s 2000 year old past comes to life in the historical city center with its baroque town houses, splendid boulevards, and traditional German restaurants.  Enjoy a genuine medieval candlelight dinner in one of the old vaulted rooms.

Pfaffenwinkel is located in the part of Bavaria (called “Pastor’s Corner”) which is famous for its pilgrimage churches and pristine landscapes.  The Wieskirche (“Church in the Meadow”) in Steingaden is a rococo masterpiece and is on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage sights.

Neuschwanstein – The fairy tale castle we all know and love which inspired Walt Disney is nestled in the Bavarian Alps and encompasses the very notion of romanticism.  You can reach the castle by hiking on foot or taking a lovely horse and carriage ride to the top.

Castle Neuschwanstein at Schwangau, Bavaria, G...
Castle Neuschwanstein at Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Romantic Road is the most popular German scenic drive and can get very crowded in the Summer season.

  • Starting Point: Würzburg, 75 miles southeast of Frankfurt
  • End Point: Füssen (Castle Neuschwanstein), 82 miles southwest of Munich
Photography

{Garmisch} Sledding and Giant Icicles

LOVE this place!  I lived in beautiful Germany for two years and have been to Garmisch many times.   Great article and photos.

Garmisch: sledding and giant icicles ·  This International Life.