One of Germany’s most beloved traditions every year is the Oktoberfest. The world’s biggest fest first took place over 100 years ago as a celebration of Bavaria and their monarchy. Since then, the event has become a place to see some of Germany’s biggest celebrities and to be seen drinking a “prost” in one of many biergartens and “Wies’l,” as the locals call them.
To the uninitiated, Oktoberfest may look like one of the biggest parties thrown throughout the months of September and October.
And indeed, millions of people around the world come from throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas to raise a liter when the traditional bands play.
While Oktoberfest can be a lot of fun, safety is paramount anytime alcohol is involved. If you plan on being one of the many to make the journey, keep these safety tips in mind before you raise a liter mug over your head.
Pace Yourself Throughout the Events
In the beer tents of Oktoberfest, everything seems just a little bit bigger. But it’s not just the pretzels that are bigger. The beers come in one main size: mass, or one liter. Not only that, but Bavarian-brewed beer is brewed stronger than many common American beers. So when a liter comes to your table, are you prepared for it?
It may be tempting to stand on a table and drink the entire beer while the tent cheers you on. But with the drinks being much heavier (in volume and size), you may find yourself getting drunk a whole lot faster. And if you don’t know when it’s time to put the "mass" down, you could end up getting a lot more than you bargained for, such as alcohol poisoning.
The Oktoberfest is composed of many large and small biertents – don’t let yourself get limited to just one. By pacing yourself throughout the day, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the activities of the Oktoberfest, and spend less time (if any) at the recovery tent.
Recovery Options are Available to All
While the recovery tents are available for those who may have had one too many beers, anyone who needs assistance are welcome to walk into the recovery tent. Every Oktoberfest, the Bavarian Red Cross assists as many as 10,000 people suffering from a number of common situations, from dehydration to alcohol poisoning. The assistance tents also keep extra clothes on hand in various sizes, for those who have overindulged to an extreme point.
If you are in need of a little extra care at Oktoberfest, the recovery tents are available for your personal assistance. Assistance from the Red Cross volunteers comes free of charge, and is available in many languages.
The Oktoberfest Glasses are NOT Complimentary
Each bier tent at Oktoberfest will serve the stein of the brewery they are supported by. Though they share the same basic shape, they come in a variety of assortments and colors. And with a number of flaws and paint chips, each different glass has a different story to tell. This may make it very tempting to slip one in your backpack, and take one on your way with you.
While temptation may be there, it is actually illegal to steal or willfully break any of the mugs at Oktoberfest. Security guards are often standing in front of the bier tents, and often check backpacks for stolen mugs and other contraband. A stolen mug could not only prevent you from entering another “Wies’l” – it could end your Oktoberfest entirely.
If you would like to purchase a mug to celebrate Oktoberfest, they are available for purchase in many of the bier tents. Simply ask your server if the one you have is for sale, or where in the tent you could purchase one from. Once purchased, you’ll get a band placed around the handle, letting security know that you legally own the glass.
Show Me the Way to Go Home from Oktoberfest
After a long day at Oktoberfest, you may be feeling the full effects of a day spent in tent after tent. Will you know how to get back to where you’re staying?
During the long evenings of Oktoberfest, the many public transportation options run their full schedule. Munich’s subway system, the U-Bahn, is coded by both number and color, making it easy for you to remember the line you need to be on. With a multi-day ticket, you’ll be able to ride Munich’s subways free and easy. Just make sure you’re going in the right direction when you board: like many subways, the directions are identified by the end stop on the line.
Visiting Oktoberfest can create memories that you cherish a lifetime – but only if you remember them to begin with. By planning your Oktoberfest visit carefully, you can stay safe and have a great time at the world’s biggest fest.