Servus and welcome!
So, the fest starts Saturday. You are rip, roaring, and ready to take on the ultimate beer festival: Wiesn. Wait! Do you know how to order a beer, how to cheers or even that the tents are called? No? Good. These are not things that you want to be learning while you’re in the middle of your third Maß.
Go ahead and start with this one. Locals almost never refer to Oktoberfest as Oktoberfest, but rather, affectionately, as the Wiesn, the meadow. All ads and signs directed at foreigners will advertise Oktoberfest, but announcements (including the cute train announcement that wishes you a wonderful Wiesn when you arrive at Hackerbrücke *sobs* so cute) will refer to the fest as Wiesn.
If you’re an American, then what you probably think of when you think of german drinks are all the movies you’ve seen where someone orders a “Stein”. I know, I was one too. In Germany, however, this is called a Maß (pronounced Mass, like the catholic thing). This is the classic liter of beer that you get at festivals and beer gardens.
When you order, just say “Ein Maß, bitte” (one liter of beer, please). Look up pronunciation online. You will probably not pronounce anything right for the first few hours, but after a few Maß, you’ll either be one of the locals or you just won’t care anymore 🙂
Always say bitte and danke (please and thank you) and ALWAYS tip. Tipping is not so common in Germany, usually you just round up to the next number and leave that, but at Wiesn, you want to tip everytime you get a drink to keep the servers happy and coming back. They have to deal with so many terrible people during this time, make it worth their while to keep coming back to you. My rule of thumb is one extra auro at least for every drink you order. The price changes every year so just add an extra coin and use the next phrase/word I’ll mention..
This is the bavarian “Cheers!”. There are a few songs that play on repeat at Wiesn that require you to Prost at the end or sometimes a few times during the song. This word will be used regularly, so don’t be afraid to belt it out as often as you want.
As mentioned in a previous post, Tracht is the traditional Bavarian garb worn to special religious events, Sunday Mass, and festivals such as Wiesn, Starkbierfest, and Knockerball.
Men traditionally wear Lederhosen, meaning leather pants and ladies wear Dirndls. You can buy Dirndls all over Munich in a range of prices (50-700 eu). I personally have a cheap one from Amazon and a lesser cheap one from a store in town. Dont ask me why, but they both ended up being red, white and blue, making me a laughing stock to my close friends and probably strangers.
Lederhosen can be VERY expensive. I have seen some go into the thousands. This kind of makes sense, because if yo get a nice one, it can stay in your family for generations (if you take care of it) and they are perfect for fest, because spilled beer only makes the leather softer. A friend of mine has lederhosen passed down from his great-great-great grandfather and he says they are the most comfortable pair of pants he owns. This love does come with a price though.
For the ladies: If you are planning on living in Germany, especially Bavaria, for at least a few years, then it makes sense to buy one really nice one (100-200 eu) and one cheaper one (50-80). These will get tons of wear and you don’t want to ruin the good one if you plan on going to nice bavarian events.
Men: I definitely recommend buying lederhosen for the same reason mentioned above, but maybe not the best quality one. you will wear them a lot but usually not generation after generation unless you are actually planning on marrying a bavarian and settling down in wither Bavaria or Austria.
The Kotzwiese (puke hill):
You see a beautiful hill at the feet of Ms. Bavaria? Do not go onto it unless you desperately need it. This is called puke hill. It is important to know this work in case you need to make your way to it, btu other wise avoid it. It is a small hill littered with drunks and more drunks. There are people sleeping, pissing and yes, puking all over this hill. It’s arguably the most fertilized hill in Germany.
This is the german work for Beer tent. There are 14 different tents to choose from, but choose wisely. Every tent has their own atmosphere and can party a bit differently. If you end up in one that doesn’t really suit you, but you are afraid that you wont be able to get back in, no worries, just tough it out and then find an after-party to go to when the tents close at 11:30pm. There are after-parties all over the city.
“It’s tapped!” on the first day of Wiesn the mayor comes to tap the first keg of beer. When the mayor has successfully made the beer flow, he shouts “O’zapft is” and Oktoberfest has officially begun!
Thank you for reading! I hope this helps you out at your first Wiesn 🙂
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Wiesn is right around the corner, so it is better to know now, before it is too late!