4. Beer tents
Now the main reason why millions of people flock to Oktoberfest every fall – the beer tents. Those huge tents are setup as early as July and can hold up to 10,000 people and another few thousand in their outdoors areas. Each tent is hosted by one of the famous Munich breweries, so one criterion for choosing your tent could be your beer preference. But every tent also has a particular crowd to it:
Armbrustschützen-Festhalle and Augustinerbräu: traditional, authentic Bavarian tents; a favorite among the local folks who want to avoid the rowdy tourists and party youngsters. Here's where you'd see the real dirndls and lederhosn.
Bräurosl and Fischer Vroni: commonly known as the gay tents as they host the gay and lesbian days on the first and secondd Sunday of the Oktoberfest.
Hippodrom and Käfer’s Wies’n Schänke: Smaller tents, but not the less posher. The who is who of Munich society meets here. Those tents are also notoriously known for the high flirt-factor.
Schützen-Festzelt and Schottenhamel: Yearly, Munich’s mayor taps the first keg of beer in the Schottenhamel tent announcing the official opening of the Oktoberfest; only then may other tents start serving beer. Nowadays a young and hip crowd gathers in and around the Schottenhamel tent and its nearby neighbor the Schützen-Festzelt. The motto is dress to impress.
Löwenbräu, Hackerbräu and Hofbräu: young and old, local and from all from all corners of the world – these tents are the meeting place for all seeking to drink, have fun and party as if there was no tomorrow.
When’s it open:
Oktoberfest serves beer from 10am until 10.30pm; rides are open until 11.30pm. On the weekend, everything opens at 9am. Weekends are generally very crowded and it is not unusual for tents to shut their doors early to prevent overfilling.
The 2010 edition will be from September 18 until October 3.
What to say:
Make sure you know 2 words while at the Oktoberfest: Prost, which means Cheers! and Mass, which is the word for the 1 Liter mug of beer you'll be having. Ask the waitress for "Eine Mass, bitte" (one mug please). Now a popular way of toasting in beer tents is to the tune of a song called Ein Prosit zur Gemütlichkeit (a toast to coziness), followed by a crowd cheering Oans, Zwoa, Droa, Gsuffa (1, 2, 3, drink up!) and mugs banging into each other.
What will it cost:
There is no general entrance fee. All rides must be paid separately. You may enter the tents for free but don’t expect to get a seat unless you order. The price of a beer ranged from 8.30-8.60€ this year and will most likely increase by next year. Also, beware of stealing the beermugs. There's a 50€ fine if you get caught.
How to get there:
U-Bahn station Theresienwiese or S-Bahn station Hackerbrücke, from there simply follow the crowd.