It’s that time of year again. Oktoberfest is nearly here. Your friends on semester abroad and gap year are buzzing. They’re buying cut-rate dirndls and lederhosen. They’re trying to figure out why the hell everyone is says they should learn the lyrics to John Denver’s “Country Roads.” But most of all, they’re talking about beer.
The world’s most famous beer festival kicks off this weekend in Munich and runs for the next three weeks, ushering in October and fall. And even if you’re not one for drunken camaraderie, traditional costumery, and so much beer you could drown in it, this festival is epic. It’s a quintessential travel experience — basically the world’s largest fair, centered around beer and food.
Well over six million people will descend on Munich over the next three weeks. The main attraction is the 14 beer tents around the Theresienwiese — called just “Wiesn” by locals. Each of the tents holds anywhere from 1,000 to 8,000 beer revelers. Then there are 18 or so smaller tents focused on different foods and lesser-known beers, each of which hold anywhere from 100 to 500 people. You also have the fair rides, rollercoasters, and game kiosks. It can feel like absolute mayhem to the uninitiated (or non-German speaking).
To help you navigate the madness, we’ve compiled some hard and fast rules for getting in, getting drunk, and getting out safely.