You’re already thinking it; blonde, heavy-chested, Dirndl-dressed German woman bearing two lager-filled and litre-sized steins in each of her thick, virile hands. But aren’t we all. This is Oktoberfest, and if you’re planning on taking part, then buckle up- you’re in for an extremely drunken and stomach-swelling ride.
Munich, as you are no doubt aware, is the indisputable capital of Germany’s number one annual fair, due to its birthplace bragging rights and yearly tourist incursion of over 6 million. But these days, little brother ‘Berliner’ Oktoberfest is making a name for itself too. Sure, it operates on a much smaller scale but if you are on a low budget and not one for the crowds then perhaps this is an alternative that could work for you, also finding where to stay in Berlin is much easier than Munich during Oktoberfest, so if Munich’s sold out, come on over.
There’s just as much beer, and all sorts of wurst to help with absorption needs: bratwurst; blutwurst; bockwurst; currywurst; knackwurst; weisswurst. Sorry, I’ll stop naming sausages, but you get the picture. Some say eating’s cheating, but here the game is different: every beer brewed for Oktoberfest must adhere to strict rules- that no beer served may be less than 5.8% in volume. Many visiting festival-goers often overlook this important fact, and subsequently pass out due to inebriation. Such casualties are often referred to as ‘Bierleichen’ (German for ‘beer corpses’) and generally hold either U.K. or Australian passports, bizarrely.
Alexanderplatz is the unofficial focal point of Berlin’s Oktoberfest, where punters can carry on guzzling back the sauce well into the night, and there is almost always a Bavarian band playing that sort of traditional, accordion-led German music, which you would naturally expect to hear in Germany, playing on just about every street corner to keep you entertained.
Things kick off in late September and continue until the first weekend of October, spanning an approximate two-week time period. The city typically sees an influx of up to 200,000 tourists over the course of the festival so be sure to pre-book accommodation before your arrival. And for heaven’s sake, don’t piss on the wall if the queue for the toilets is too long. It’s kind of a big deal over there. Can’t think why.
by Josh Taylor