Travel Guide | New York

6 Things about Oktoberfest and Why Everyone Should Go Once in Their Life

Whether you wish you could have gone or you wish you could go back.. oktoberfest!

By Emma White, Syracuse University

Oktoberfest is a 16 day beer festival held in Munich, Germany. It is the worlds largest fair and attracts over 6 million people from all over the world each year, many of whom are college students, myself included. By studying abroad in the fall, I felt that attending Oktoberfest was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Here is a list of a few things that made my weekend at Oktoberfest absolutely unforgettable.

1. Beer

If you picture Oktoberfest you’re probably thinking of large German women carrying 10-12 steins ( a full litre of beer) table to table accommodating roughly 15,000 people per beer tent. If this is what you’re thinking, you’re right. Seriously, these women are incredible. If beer stein races isn’t added to next years summer Olympics then we have a problem. At 10 am each morning they come out holding steins and fueling the masses. And when I say people go crazy for these steins people go absolutely crazy. Dancing on tables, singing, hugging, some occasional chugging, are all considered normal forms of behavior. I woke up at 5 am to get in line for the opening of the beer tents and that was probably considered late. People hunker down in these beer tents for hours at a time only to emerge wondering “what day is it?”.

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First Stein

2. Dressing Up

One of the things that makes people so spirited for Oktoberfest is dressing up. Men dress up in lederhosens (think yodeler) and women dress up in dirndls ( think Little Bo Peep). If you’re willing to drop €70-100 on an outfit it’s absolutely worth it. Just think, you won’t have to buy a Halloween costume next year! Don’t get me wrong you can still have fun without dressing up (I took the cheap way out and just bought a traditional hat) but dressing up adds even more excitement to an already unbelievable time. I saw 70+ year old women who have been attending Oktoberfest for years in dirndls and on my 7 am flight there were people already dressed ready to hit the tents as soon as we landed. 

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All dressed up!

3. The World’s Largest Fair

You don’t have to drink a lot or even like beer to enjoy Oktoberfest. There’s so much more than I thought. There’s a ton of German food (see below), rides and games that could easily keep you occupied all day if you didn’t want to hunker down in a beer tent for 10 hours at a time. I was so surprised about how many families with children I saw who were at Oktoberfest solely for the fair activities. The grounds are huge and there’s enough to do to accommodate everyone.

Entrance to Oktoberfest image

Entrance to Oktoberfest

4. Food

The only way I can think to describe the food at Oktoberfest is a vegetarians worst nightmare. The German people have 3 major food groups: beer, bratwurst and pretzels and trust me I’m not complaining. The sides of Oktoberfest are lined with vendors selling all sorts of sausages, schnitzel, and sausages and schnitzel wrapped in pretzels. There’s also crepes, ice cream and other typical fair food. One food item specific to Oktoberfest are the gingerbread cookies. They are all heart shapes with different phrases on them which people wear around their necks throughout the day. Basically when it comes to the food at Oktoberfest, I wouldn’t suggest expecting to stick to any kind of diet  or even the basics of nutrition during your time there.

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Oktoberfest cookies studt abroad image

Oktoberfest cookies!

 5. Six degrees of separation

What happens when you take 15,000 (a large amount of which are college students) at the biggest beer festival in the world? The name game. Everyone has played this game before. You end up meeting people and saying “Oh you go to (insert school here)? Do you know (insert name of person who you probably don’t know)?!” but for some reason at Oktoberfest you find people who you actually do know! I met some of my friends’ old high school friends, neighbors, cousins etc. It’s crazy how often this happened to me and how many connections I made in such a small amount of time and in the midst of so many international people.

6. There’s more to Munich than Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest celebrates the weeks leading up until October meaning theres still 11 months of the year that Oktoberfest is not around. Located in Munich, there is so much more to the city than what people flock to it for these 3 weeks of the year. On my final day in Germany, I was happy I was able to see a different side of Munich. I was able to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp which opened in 1933 under the regime of Adolf Hitler. Walking through the camp is surreal. You realize that so many people stood on the same ground under such different circumstances. It’s an incredible place to see and I feel so fortunate I was able to be there. I was also able to go to the Marienplatz area of downtown Munich where the Glockenspiel is located. Although we missed it going off by a few hours it was still worth seeing a different side to Munich than just Oktoberfest.

Dachau Concentration Camp image

Dachau Concentration Camp



As I write this blog post I am sinking further and further into my post-Oktoberfest depression (and looking up flight tickets from Syracuse to Munich for next year). Munich is a beautiful city and Oktoberfest is something I believe every person should experience. It is one of those bucket list items that I can happily say I can now check off of my list.

Emma White

Syracuse University | 10 stories

Emma is a junior studying at Syracuse University and a true Bostonian at heart. She will be spending her fall semester studying in London where she can't wait to immerse herself in the London culture and take that attitude wherever she goes. Lover of dogs, laughing and The Office.

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