Oktoberfest Near and Far
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This weekend marks the finale of Oktoberfest, 2015 in Munich, Germany. Although the festivities—which kick off in September—are coming to an end in just a few days, the celebration will continue throughout the month in the United States.
Oktoberfest in Munich, Tips and Tricks
Oktoberfest began nearly 200 years ago as the commemoration of a royal wedding; it’s since morphed into a two-week festival well regarded as the world’s largest celebration of beer. Travelers from all over the globe flock to Munich, Germany to participate in the festivities. Although the festival itself is free to everyone, the tents and vendors will provide you with plenty of opportunities to spend your Euros. Book early, drink local, and meet as many beer-drinkers as you can.
- Make reservations. Oktoberfest beer tents are where the action is, and they fill up fast. Make a table reservation, especially on nights and weekends, to make sure you’ll be able to sit down and enjoy the festivities. If can’t make a reservation, small parties should still be able to find space without too much of an issue. Reservations are recommended, especially nights and weekends, but not required. However, keep in mind that waitresses won’t serve you unless you have a seat at the table.
- Go midweek. If possible, plan a visit that avoids the hectic crowds of the weekends. Tuesday through Thursday will give you the most elbow-room. Mid-week will also get you closer to the locals, weekends will draw more tourists and fewer Germans.
- Bring cash, lots of cash. Although accepting credit cards is more common every year, it’s still likely that you’ll run into more cash-only vendors than any other type. Plan on about 60 Euros cash per person, per day.
- Tents Matter. Each tent has it’s own personality, although all are more similar than different. Käfer’s Wiesnschänke is the “after-hours” tent. When other tents start to close down at 10:30, the crowd rushes to this tent. Try to get there before 10PM to beat the crowd. Schottenhamel is the tent to be at when the festival kicks off, it’s where the Mayor taps the first keg and yells “O’ zapft ist!” to begin the celebration. Marstall is the most star-studded tent, also serving champagne in addition to beer.
- Dress the part. Visitors and locals alike enjoy donning Trachten, traditional garb for the fest, and doing so will help you immerse in the ambiance. Don’t worry about bringing your Oktoberfest best with you; plenty of local shops will have outfits to purchase. Grab an outfit with pockets and leave your bags and purses at the hotel, the chaos, spillage and crowds will make them more of a burden than an asset.
Best American Oktoberfest celebrations
Celebrating Oktoberfest in the USA is best done in a town that immerses itself in German culture year-round. With snow-capped A-framed shops, German breweries, and lederhosen worn in every season, these villages will transport you abroad with more than just the beer offerings.
It’s hard to imagine a town in the USA more excited about Oktoberfest than this small Bavarian village in Washington State. With an entire town fashioned after the German Alps, from architecture, breweries, and eateries all following the theme, it’s easy to imagine you have transported to Germany itself. To make sure all visitors to the town (book well in advance of the Oktoberfest celebration) have an opportunity to experience the mayoral kick-off to Oktoberfest, this charming village has not just one keg tapping ceremonies, they have three.
With millions of Minnesotans claiming German heritage, this town is a popular destination for people seeking to get in touch with their roots. Don’t miss the 45-foot glockenspiel, German polka bands, and horse drawn trolley.
Helen’s strict zoning laws require that all buildings resemble an Alpine village in Germany. Known for its festivals, activities, and over 200 Bavarian themed shops, it’s no surprise this little village can put on an outstanding Oktoberfest event.
I’ll have a recipe for you tomorrow! Come back Friday to get my recipe for Stout Bolognese.