So you didn’t plan ahead quite enough to reserve your spot at one of the 14 giant beer tents of Munich’s Oktoberfest—you can still celebrate. Start planning your very own Oktoberfest celebration with our favorite tips and recipes from Oktoberfest Cookbook.
Since its beginning in 1810, Munich’s Oktoberfest has claimed the title of the largest folk fair in the world. More than six million people flood the Wiesn for 16 days to raise a stein (or two . . .) and party.
Oktoberfest begins the Saturday after September 15th and ends on the first Sunday in October, extending to include German Unity Day as the calendar dictates.
Set the scene: To set a proper Oktoberfest scene, you’ll need a tent, of course (approximate the look indoors using streamers), as well as a table and benches. By evening Oktoberfest attendees find themselves up on the benches—dancing, singing, and celebrating.
To encourage such revelry, you’ll need a proper playlist. All the large tents in Munich have one thing in common: the bands who do their best to get the crowds going, playing so-called Oktoberfest hits such as “Fürstenfeld” and “Griechischer Wein.” Just add a few classic German rock, pop, and country hits to your preferred playlist for extra authenticity.
Look the part: Dressing up to go to Oktoberfest is a long-standing tradition, and today, traditional lederhosen (leather shorts) and dirndl are ubiquitous. Get as fancy or silly as you want, though. Neon mini-dirndl skirts, hats shaped like beer mugs, and creative costumes of all kinds are welcome at the fair.
Start drinking: Only the six traditional Munich breweries are allowed to serve within Oktoberfest, though other breweries can ply their wares outside the tents. For maximum authenticity at your bash, stock up on Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten, and Hofbräu.
You’ll also want to mix shandies for your guests. The half-beer, half–lemon soda common in the tents is a refreshing, less alcoholic alternative that will help to keep guests on their feet.
Serve brews in a one-liter Mass (pronounced with a short “a” sound) or, if going old-school, a ceramic mug known as “Keferloher.” When clinking glasses, do it as the Germans do: Look the other person in the eye, hold your beer mug by the handle, and cheer Oans, zwoa, gsuffa! (“One, two, bottoms up!”).
Eat well: Oktoberfest isn’t just about drinking beer; it’s also about eating really well. Bavarian delicacies of all kinds are sold in the tents and food stalls, from meaty roasts and stews to vegetarian mains and sides to baked goods and sweet treats.
You can keep your selections simple with a mouthwatering selection of bread, sausage, and cheese, or fill your guests’ bellies with a hearty soup, roast, and homemade dessert. We’ve selected a classic recipe for Pretzel Cheese Sticks, Snails, and Chestnuts from Oktoberfest Cookbook to share with you—plus our guide to the five types of sausage no Oktoberfest table should be without. Just don’t forget the sweet mustard.