Know before you go: Oktoberfest

Anybody headed to Oktoberfest this year? Have you been? The mayor tapped the keg (“O’zapt is!”) in Munich this past Saturday, so the tents will be open for the next two weeks. I remember being really surprised to learn that Oktoberfest actually begins in September! But it always ends on the first Sunday in October.

Here are a few tips for visiting and some other fun facts about the largest festival in the world…

What to wear: Anything of course, but traditionally it’s a dirndl dress for ladies and leather trousers (Lederhos’n) for gents. Fun fact: Wearing the apron bow on the left means that a girl is single, while the opposite is true for wearing it on the right.
Where to go: there are 14 tents to choose from; the biggest and most famous one is the Hofbräu tent with its 10,000 seats. Rumor has it that German VIP’s and politicians head to the Käferzelt. Tents do have a seating limit, so this website displays up-to-date information on which tents are full, or you can download the official Oktoberfest App.
What to bring: Cash (but only as much as you’ll need), and your ID. Credit cards aren’t accepted in the tents. In 2013, the prices for a “Maß”—one liter of Oktoberfest beer —will be between €9.40 ($12.55) and €9.85 ($13.15). Yikes! And if you take your phone, the Oktoberfest app linked above lets you input your height, weight, and the number of beers you drank to get an estimate of your blood alcohol content and how long it will take you to sober up. Handy.
What to order: Beer, obviously—in 2012, 6.5 million people drank a total of 14.5 million pints of beer. But the “Wiesn” is not only known for beer: try “Weisswurst” (Bavarian veal sausage, a white sausage), “Brezn” (pretzels) or “halbes Hendl” (roasted half chicken), “Obatzda” (a spiced cheese-butter spread), and “Käsespätzle” (cheese noodles), among other things.

(Infographic updated 2011 via EasyJet Munich City Break; more information available on the Oktoberfest site)

P.S. Our last trip to Germany—in Bavaria!

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