Visit Oktoberfest 2015!

If Oktoberfest is on your "Bucket List," here's a short primer of what you need to do to plan a fabulous trip!

Oktoberfest grounds

On the grounds at Oktoberfest

Good Times in the Augustiner Tent

Riding the Beer-go-round at the Wiesn

Touring Bamberg wiith Eric the Storyteller

“After Oktoberfest is before Oktoberfest!” So goes the saying in Munich. As soon as Oktoberfest 2014 comes to a close, the game is on for Oktoberfest 2015. The dates of Oktoberfest 2015 are September 19, 2015 through October 4, 2015. And, it’s definitely not too early to start making your plans.

An Oktoberfest visit is on many people’s “bucket list” and it definitely deserves being on the beer lover’s list. Because of its extreme popularity, however, solid planning is required.  Just showing up in Munich during these three weeks would be akin to “just showing up” for the Super Bowl, World Series, and Stanley Cup being played in the same city on the same weekend. Getting seats and a hotel room might be a bit complicated!

Reserved Seats: Anybody who has been to the “Wiesn” knows that getting a reserved seat is the best way to go. However, reservations cannot be made unless you book and pay in advance for at least 10 people - tables are "sold" in sets of 10. For each person, you pay for 2 liters of beer and a 1/2 chicken dinner in advance. Credit Cards and North American checks are not accepted. To make a reservation, you need to contact each of the 14 tents separately, since they are run by separate "Tent Hosts" But, tent reservations are not necessarily required. Each tent is required to set aside a certain percentage of non-reserved tables. These seats are taken on a first-come first served basis. On weekends, people line up before dawn to get into the tent. If you arrive later, you may find the tent is over capacity and no one further is admitted. If you avoid weekends and holidays and arrive before 5 PM, you should be able to get into most any tent and find a seat. You then find the unreserved section and ask the table occupants, "Ist hier frei?" If they say yes, then you are free to sit down and occupy the seat as long as you wish. You must have a seat in order to be sold a beer. Simply put, do not go on weekends!

Hotels: There a number of hotels near the grounds and also by the train station, which is in walking distance. This sounds like a great idea until you realize that hotel room prices can skyrocket up to 800% of normal price and proximity to the festival is directly related to the price of the room. Keep in mind that Munich has a clean, safe and easy-to-use public transit system and you’ll quickly realize that being next to the grounds isn’t necessary. And, if you think about it, being a little farther away would be a quieter and cleaner experience anyways! Avoid using the big US hotel booking engines and check out a European site like www.bookings.com for more comprehensive listings.

Another option we hope you consider is travelling with us at BayernTrips. We are a small operator and are only focused on tours in Bavaria. There is so much more to all this than the Oktoberfest beer tents and we’ll show you the best that Bavaria has to offer while you learn about the history, the people and the culture as a participant, not a spectator. It’s important to note that each year, over 35% of our guests are returners and most of them never imagined that they would be with a “tour group.”

For Oktoberfest 2015, we have two trips we are offering: Best of Bavaria and Fall Festivals. Best of Bavaria is our flagship trip and is the best option for first time visitors to Bavaria. It runs from September 26 – October 8, 2015. During this trip, you’ll have 3 reserved seatings at Oktoberfest; you’ll get a tour of the grounds, and a history tour of Munich’s Old town. After Munich, we travel to Berchtesgaden and you’ll visit a salt mine, the Eagle’s Nest and Nazi bunker complex, a schnapps factory, take a boat ride on the Königsee, visit the Jenner Mountain, and have an afternoon in nearby Salzburg. We also tour Ludwig II’s castle of Neuschwanstein and his family’s castle Hohenschwangau. A Sunday morning catholic mass followed by Weisswurst is something we also do. Then we head up to Franconia – another region of Bavaria. We stay 3 nights in Bamberg, the beer lover’s capital. Additionally we do a day trip to Nuremberg, ride a boat through the Danube Gorge, visit the world’s oldest monastical brewery from 1050, and the Kuchlbauer Brewery before returning you to Munich. With our trips, you get your own airfare and this trip begins and ends in Munich. More details can be found on our website here: http://bayerntrips.com/tours-of-bavaria/show/oktoberfest-2015-best-of-bavaria.html

Our Fall Festivals trip is mainly targeted at our Alumni guests and they get first right of refusal. However, the extra seats are then sold to new guests. For this trip we start in Munich and end in Stuttgart. With this trip we head to Füssen first and take part in the Viehscheid tradition, when the cows are brought down from the Alpine pastures. It’s great fun and is followed up with an evening in a beer tent - more authentic than Oktoberfest! We also plan an evening Hüttengaudi and then we head to Munich. You’ll have time to see the parade in Munich and a city tour is offered for any first-timers. We will also do a day trip to another of Ludwig II’s palaces, this one at Herrenchiemsee. After Munich we head towards Stuttgart on Thursday, Sept 24 and spend the time in the area called the Schwäbische Alp.We tour Castle Lichtenstein, and then do a Segway tour and brewery tour. On Friday, we go to the Canstatter Wasen at 3:00 and should have reserved seats there at 5 PM – might be chance of seeing the Mercedes Museum for those who haven’t done that.  The Wasen is even more fun than the Munich Wiesn if you can believe that! The next morning, everyone makes their way to the airport. It’s an easy subway connection from downtown Stuttgart, or it’s just as easy to take the train to Frankfurt airport and fly back from there – it’s only an hour from Stuttgart, the trains go every hour, and they stop right at the airport. So, you’ll need to buy what’s called an “open Jaw” or “Multiple Destination” airline ticket for USA-MUC on 9/16/2015 and STR-USA or FRA – USA on 9/26/2015.

If you decide to look into us, you can see independent reviews at  Linked-In and TourHQ. And I will put you in touch with all the folks that traveled with us last year – just ask!

No matter what you decide, you should also have a look at these other articles I have written about Oktoberfest:

What Actually Happens in a Beer Tent

Beyond Beer at Oktoberfest

Mein Wirtshaus: The Weisses Brauhaus