How To Survive A Day At Oktoberfest

I went to Oktoberfest and lived to tell the tale. It’s not all about beer, but mostly it is. posted on

1. 7:30 a.m.: Line up!

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Oktoberfest involves a lot of waiting and a lot of crowds. Which makes sense because this is basically Disneyland — but with huge beers everywhere.

The whole thing takes place in a huge park in the center of Munich, which is outfitted with massive beer tents, little food stands, and carnival rides. The beer tents open up at 9 a.m., and since you feel it necessary to gulp down a gallon of beer before the clock strikes 10, you decide it is a good idea to make your way into the park and line up for one of the beer tents. You’ve been informed that it gets incredibly crowded, so you show up 90 minutes early. There is nothing to do at this point, except regret that you haven’t eaten breakfast.

By 8 a.m., people are pushing to get to the front of the line, which is insane, because you are waiting to drink beer in a tent that holds literally thousands of people.

2. 9 a.m.: Enter your chosen tent. Marvel at how freaking huge it is.

Michael Dalder / Reuters

Each of the ten tents is huge and can accomodate thousands. They all have a different vibe. Some are more popular with older Germans who’ve been Oktoberfest-ing since they were children, while others are more of a raucous party only slightly more civilized than Coachella.

Naturally, you opt for the largest tent: the Hofbräu-Festzelt, which can accomodate 9,992 people at capacity. The main area holds around 4,000 to 5,000 people, with room for the rest on the balconies and in the outdoor areas. The indoor space is about 54,724 square feet. That’s 1.25 acres. BIG.

This tent is rumored to be “popular with Americans.” This just in: Americans choose the biggest, rowdiest option. The sky is also blue.

4. 9:15 a.m.: Wait more.

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Just because you’re in the tent, doesn’t mean you’re getting beer any time soon. You can’t order beer until around 9:30 or 10, or whenever the waitresses decide to make their way to your table. So, you pose for pictures that end up on Facebook. These photos, in which you don’t yet look like you’ve spent a week in a frat house basement, are the ones you can and will show your family back home. Another thing: you’ll recall taking them.

5. 10 a.m.: Receive your liter of beer.

Michael Dalder / Reuters

A grumpy waitress will ask you what you want, and there is one option at this time of the day: BEER. Beers come in one size at Oktoberfest: HUGE. They’re a liter, to be exact. You need two hands to hold one. Prices vary, but they cost about 9 euros ($11.60). It’s a lot, but you’re also getting a massive amount of beer.

This is no time for dilly-dallying — have one person at your table place the order, preferably in German. If you change the order or ask too many questions and you’ll risk a waitress rolling her eyes and/or walking away. This will inevitably happen at one point.

The waitresses do have good reason to be impatient and occasionally abrasive: they carry a dozen or so of the huge glasses at a time, for two weeks straight, for hours on end. It’s a feat of human stamina and hand strength.

Alexandra Beier / Getty Images

Not easy.

7. 10:30 a.m.: Realize you’ve almost finished your beer.

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Though you normally struggle to finish a small can of Bud Light, you’ve somehow sucked down the liter of beer. Maybe because it’s ice cold, and really good? But not in that fancy seasonal-microbrew-with-a-pumpkin-aftertaste kind of way. It’s sort of just, a really tasty regular ol’ beer.

8. 11 a.m.: Realize you are a little drunk.

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Another fun fact: the beer has a higher alcohol content than what you’re used to drinking. The stuff you drink at bars (Bud Light, Corona, what have you) tends to be around 4-5% alcohol. At Oktoberfest, beers must be at least 6% alcohol. Usually it’s even higher.

Remember, you haven’t eaten breakfast.

9. 11:30 a.m.: Decide you’re starving.

You could order a pretzel.

Or chicken! The waitresses also carry dozens of plates at a time, of course.

By this point, the level of decorum has declined considerably. The waitress slings your food at you without a smile (again, we do sympathize with her), and the people around you start ripping at the steaming hot, oily, salty chicken with their hands in a manner than can only be described as barbarian.

Recall reading that half a million of these chickens are consumed every year at Oktoberfest.

When it comes to food, what you really want is Käse Spätzle. Remember, the chicken has been corrupted by people’s dirty hands. It’s like macaroni and cheese, but with chewier noodles that are like dumpling skins.

You’re doing it all wrong if you don’t get this. All. Wrong.

13. 12:30 p.m.: Order another beer.

Johannes Simon / Getty Images

Look down and realize the bottoms of your pants are wet. With beer. The floor, which was sparkly clean a few hours ago, now resembles that of a dive bar at 2 a.m.

Look up in horror upon realizing it’s just past noon.

14. 1 p.m.: Feel inferior because you didn’t get a traditional Oktoberfest get-up.

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Women traditionally wear dirndls, while men wear lederhosen. Clearly, you considered investing in the outfit, but when you realized they cost at least hundred dollars, you decided against it. Still, in your flannel button down and jeans, you feel like the person who forgot to dress up for Halloween. (Most Germans wear the traditional Oktoberfest dress.)

Hayden Panetierre pulled it off. You are not, of course Hayden Panetierre.

16. 2:30 p.m.: Sing.

Pretty much every thirty seconds, they start playing this song and everyone sings along at a deafening volume. You don’t entirely know what the words are, because everyone is slurring them. You abandon your typical aversion to singing in public and go along with it. It’s better than trying to strike up a conversation with these drunk people.

17. 3:30 p.m.: Make new friends.

Michael Dalder / Reuters

People from around the world are here. You meet a group of handsome Italians who are so drunk they can barely stand. Your only language in common is elementary school-level French.

18. 3:45 p.m.: Make eye contact with every person you come near.

Michael Dalder / Reuters

You learn that in Germany, you don’t clink glasses when you toast — you just raise your glass and look the person you’re toasting with in the eye, while saying “Prost.” If you don’t look them in the eye, superstitions say you’ll have bad sex for seven years. People take this very seriously. Look them in the eye!

19. 4 p.m.: Realize you’ve been here for 7 hours. Switch tents.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

Try another beer, order another Spätzle, etc., etc.

20. 4:30 p.m.: Get lost.

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You tried to go to the bathroom in one of those pseudo porta-potty things. You walk out, only to be unable to find anyone. Good luck getting service on a cell phone.

21. 5 p.m.: Go on a ride.

Michael Dalder / Reuters

Realize what a bad idea this is.

Michael Dalder / Reuters

But not until you’re 100 feet in the air.

23. 6 p.m.: Pass out.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

And do it again tomorrow.

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