Posted by Lauren
Last year I went to Oktoberfest with Kyle and 18 friends. It was an awesome trip and I really should journal what we did before I totally forget. However, before I spend 50 hours resizing photos, backtracking, googling, and making sense of ticket stubs, I thought I’d write about the process of getting 20 people into the fest. Because there are some tips and tricks we picked up along the way :)
1) Read this: http://www.oktoberfest-insider.com/oktoberfest-faq.htm
It is the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide I’ve found. I learned so much about the festival from that one site. Seriously, go read it!!!! And read this: http://www.bigboytravel.com/europe/germany/munich/oktoberfest/best-beer-tents
2) Pick some tents!
Each tent has a specialty. Some tents have better food, some have better decor, some have better bands, some are for a younger crowd, and some for an older/richer crowd.
Organize the tent booking information in a spreadsheet. Mark down when people accept reservations. Mark down when you’ve reached out (and how!). Mark down the days/times you requested for each. Set calendar reminders on your phone when reservations open up. Be OCD about it.
Let’s see what I can remember about the main ones that I visited:
- We had a Monday afternoon reservation here, 2 beer vouchers + 1 chicken voucher per person
- Known for: good music, red/yellow/green ribbon roof, wine + alc served (rare at Oktoberfest)
- Recommend? YES
- We had a Wednesday afternoon reservation here, 2 beer vouchers per person and 2 large appetizer platters
- Known for: crossbow shooting, animal theme stalls
- Recommend? NO. It was cold inside, not very busy (during afternoon at least)
- Went here at night with Kyle, Megan, and Paul without a reservation
- Wiggled up to table in front of band and had a blast!
- Known for: Heldensteiner house band, roof with 16k lights, beer drinking lion tower out front
- Recommend? YES!
- Went here after our afternoon reservation ended at another tent, very crowded (but big) on the inside
- Known for: green ceiling, wood kegs
- Recommend? Maybe, get there early. Tables didn’t seem as friendly/open to crashers.
- p.s. Lots of other Augstiner places in Munich so you could check those out instead
- Went here on our last day for a quick drink after enjoying some rides
- Known for: ox-roasting tent, blue/white ribbons hanging from garlands on ceiling
- Recommend? Yes
- Hacker Festzelt
- Went here after getting lost with Molly (long story)
- Known for: blue sky with clouds on ceiling, favorite of locals and international peeps
- Recommend? Yes (def at night, friendly people)
- Hofbräu Festzelt
- Went here at night (sat at table outside) for just a little bit
- Known for: One of the largest, party-hardiest tents at Oktoberfest
- Recommend? If you can get a spot inside, go for it! Supposedly good music
- Honorable Mention
- Fischer Vroni – looks beautiful with yellow/blue ribbon ceiling but did not visit
- Schottenhamel – the other 85% of our group went here when Molly and I were lost. Sounded like they had fun.
3) Get a fax number. I used HelloFax‘s 30 day free trial and then 9.99/mo for about 2 additional months.
Why do you need a fax number? Because most of the tents require you to fax a reservation request in. Super archaic, I know. Use this format (below) to create a word document and then save it as PDF. Electronically sign it and then send to the tent reservation fax numbers (or via email in some cases). Of course, don’t forget to change the Tag/Datum and Alternativtermin to your dates! Also, add your company’s logo, name, and website (if you are comfortable doing so) because tents supposedly treat company reservations more favorably.
4) Learn basic German. Or lots of Google Translate :)
Don’t worry, I got you. Using the example above will get you most of the way there. But then, the tables start faxing you back. And emailing. And snail mailing. And then suddenly you are like WTF does this say???
When emailing a reservation request: Please, I want to make a reservation for twenty. How much does it cost? >> Bitte, ich möchte eine Reservierung für zwanzig zu machen. Was kostet es?
When specifying the day you want a table:
When you get an autoamted “we received your request” email: Your reservation request is stored by us as follows >> hre Reservierungs-Anfrage ist wie folgt bei uns gespeichert
When you get assigned a Customer Number: Kunden-Nr.
When you get turned down: We are therefore not able to meet all reservation requests. We regret that we can not therefore confirm your reservation request. >> Es ist uns deshalb nicht möglich, alle Reservierungswünsche zu erfüllen. Zu unserem Bedauern können wir daher auch Ihre Reservierungsanfrage nicht bestätigen.
When you get a table: Enclosed you will receive your reservation confirmation in all the details on… Your reservation are included. >> Anbei erhalten Sie Ihre Reservierungsbestätigung, in der alle Details zu… Ihrer Reservierung enthalten sind.
When you have forms to fill out: Please send us the forms in full >> Bitte senden Sie uns die Formulare vollständig zurück.
But really, you should just befriend someone that knows German and have them help you when you start getting reservation confirmation forms.
5) Wire money to Germany. Sorry, no Venmo.
This was the scary part for me because I really had no idea which bank to wire money to, although the bank is specified on the form (I’ll explain). And both times I procrastinated so I was afraid that the money wouldn’t get there on time, since wire transfers can take up to 72 hours to hit the books. You’ll need to know the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) & BIC (Bank Identifier Code). At one point, I used this IBAN calculator website which really sketched me out but somehow worked. If you’re lucky, the tent will tell you exactly where to send money: “HypoVereinsbank München, Kto.-Nr. 6 020 162 838, BLZ 700 202 70, IBAN: DE11 7002 0270 6020 1628 38 · SWIFT (BIC): HYVEDEMMXXX”. Sometimes they won’t include the BIC or IBAN and you need to track it down.
6) Know where to collect your vouchers.
For one tent, we had to go to a specific hotel near the train station and pick up the vouchers. For another tent, we were able to pick up the vouchers the day before our reservation onsite. Each tent is different so make sure you bring that German-reading friend of yours along. :)
7) Dress up!!!
There are a few second hand shops selling trachten (lederhosen & dirndl) in Munich and surrounding cities. You can also buy online (eBay, Etsy, etc). Luckily a co-worker who had previously been to Oktoberfest lent me her authentic dirndl. You must wear a legit dirndl and lederhosen. It’s just not the same if you go in normal clothes. It’s fun. Trust me on this.
8) Ride the rides!
Another thing you’ve got to trust me on. If you are saving money, pick one or two rides that go up high so you can get a bird’s eye view of the whole fairgrounds. Also, walk around at night and take pictures of the rides all lit up. Magical. You’re welcome.
9) Stick with your group. You will get drunk, so have a plan in place.
10) Eat all the food. Drink all the drinks. Sing! Dance! Make friends!
Any questions about Oktoberfest? Who’s been? Who wants to go?