The Oktoberfest or Wiesn, as the locals call it, is probably the best known festival in the entire world.
Apart from being the best known it is probably the biggest as well. Thousands of visitors come to Germany every year just to be there and experience the festival. I, unfortunately, don’t like the taste of beer and I am not too fond of the Wiesn overall, but first let me give you some historical information before I can begin to explain what the Wiesn is today and what you will find there.
It was in 1810, for the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, that numerous private and public festivities were held. The last of these, a horse race, is said to be the foundation of the Oktoberfest.
Apart from 1813, when the festival wasn’t held due to Napoleonic wars, the festival grew and grew until it became what we see today: more than six million visitors travel to the Wiesn, most of them to drink and have a good time.
The entire city is full of tourists, hotel prices go up and everywhere Oktoberfest items can be found. Ranging from sweets, to mugs to Bavarian traditional costumes. Most of these costumes don’t look original at all and are cheap and catered to the tourist’s needs, but since a couple of years it somehow became trendy to walk around in these clothes while visiting the Wiesn.
A part of the Wiesn are the beer tents, which are very popular among visitors. You can order beer there and food and listen to some traditional music and shows. The other part of the Wiesn are the fun rides – partly old family rides such as shows or motorcycle runs, but also big rollercoasters and some of the newest rides.
The Oktoberfest is especially one thing – huge.
People are having fun there, drinking beer and enjoying themselves. But there are also downsides to this festival which I, as a local, have come to greatly dislike over the years. One factor are the drunk people everywhere. The beer at the Wiesn is almost ridiculously expensive if you ask me, but year after year, a lot of people just come here to drink. Or get drunk. They then sleep in the underground, at the station, walk through the city or sleep around the Oktoberfest grounds, completely out of it.
The other factor are the crowds themselves – as I mentioned before millions of people visit this festival, so it’s no wonder that sometimes things get crowded. Most people take the underground, but I would strongly advise you to not use the underground during the evening, especially the weekend. There are just too many people for not enough space, all trying to get the next train, pushing and forcing their way into the carriages.
For me as a student this factor is also not too small – money. The Wiesn is expensive. Years ago I loved to go onto the rollercoasters, but nowadays they are just too expensive for me. It’s not that I could not afford to ride a couple of them, I just don’t want to spend as much money. I’d rather go to an amusement park and have fun there. But it’s all a matter of taste and I cannot deny that the Wiesn can be a lot of fun!
It all depends on what you like. I know a lot of people who love going there, but for me it’s just not the thing and I’m usually happy once it’s over because then I can use the trains without drunk people everywhere.
I would, however, never give the advice to not go there. Just because it’s not my cup of tea, doesn’t mean that you could have a lot of fun there. Just be cautious, don’t drink too much and then you’re good to go!
The Wiesn always begins in September and lasts until October. Entrance is free, but this year they had strong entrance controls and a fence around the area. Some people felt safer with these measures, while others did not attend this year due to the fence.