People are putting on their party pants (aka Lederhosen) for the 184th Oktoberfest in Munich. This is the world's largest folk festival with over 6 million visitors drinking well over 6 million liters of beer.
This year will include the usual beers, brats and an overload of Bavarian culture with our Guide to 2017 Oktoberfest informing you of important dates, security updates and changes for the Fest this year.
Safety at Oktoberfest
Some would-be visitors have expressed concern about attending such a massive tourist attraction in light of the recent European terrorist attacks in Berlin, Paris, Brussels... There has even been an Oktoberfest terror attack before, back in 1980. A dozen people were killed and over 200 injured by a bomb from far-right radicals. The attack was the most severe act of terrorism in post-war West Germany.
Though the threat is still relatively minor, the city of Munich has worked hard to provide greater safety measures. In the past few years they have spent more than a million euros to increase security.
For the first time ever visitors will need to pass through security to enter Oktoberfest. There will be nine entrances which will control crowd levels and provide bag checks, etc. There will be a visible police presence, as well as many plain-clothed, and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Carry your passport/ID for checks.
Note that large bags and backpacks are prohibited, as well as baby strollers on Saturdays, German Unity Day (closing day) and past 18:00 any other day. Prohibited at any time: glass bottles, pressurized cans, corrosive or coloring contents and items that could be used as a thrusting, cutting or clubbing weapon.
On the positive side, these crowd control measures have meant lines into the tents are down, seats are more plentiful than ever and the atmosphere inside is more relaxed.
High traffic days are expected to be
- Saturday September 23rd
- Saturday September 30th
- Sunday October 1st
To find low-attendance days, use the Oktoberfest crowd barometer.
Besides the possible terrorist threats, remember to use common sense at Oktoberfest. Where most people are there to party and enjoy the good vibes, you should leave valuables at home, not engage with aggravated drunk people,, and try to avoid becoming overly intoxicated. The English-language site, www.sicherewiesn.de, provides great safety tips and if you get into trouble call 112, the Europe-wide number for emergencies.
Visitor Information for the 2017 Oktoberfest
Highlights of 2017 Oktoberfest:
- Saturday, September 16th at 11:00 - Parade through Munich ending at the tents.
- Saturday September 16th at 12:00 - Tapping of the first Oktoberfest keg by the mayor in the Schottenhamel Tent.
- Sunday, September 17th starting at 10:00 - Gay Sunday
- Tuesday, September 19th until 19:00 - Family day; all rides and performances are offered at a discount. Family Days every Tuesday
- Thursday, September 21st at 10:00 - Religious Oktoberfest mass
- Sunday, September 24th at 11:00 - Traditional concert of Oktoberfest brass-bands
- Monday, October 3rd at 12:00 - Gun-salute on the steps of the Bavaria monument to end the festival
Directions: Oktoberfest is located at Thereisienwiese (usually just called the Wiesn), a 34.5 hectare fairgrounds in the Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt quarter of Munich (about 20 minutes from the city center). It is easily reachable by public transport or by driving.
If driving, enter "Bavariaring, München" in the GPS and look for the impressive "Bavaria statue".
However, note that parking is hard to find near the grounds and either staying nearby or taking public transport is best.
Entry to Grounds: Admission is free (except to the “Historical Wies'n”) and regulated through nine entrances.
Serving Times: Beer will be sold in the tents from 12 noon til 22:30 on Opening day; 10:00 to 22:30 on weekdays; 9:00 to 22:30 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The festival will close at 23:30 on October 3rd. The only exception to this is the Käfer tent which closes at 13:00 (last orders at 12:15).
2017 Beer Prices: 2014 was the first time a Maß cost over 10 euro. This year, a Maß is between €10.60 to 10.95. Come prepared with lots of cash and expect to pay around 40 euros per day for beer, food, souvenirs, etc. Fischer-Vroni, Schottenhamel-Festhalle and the Winzerer Fähndl have the most expensive beer this year while the Museum Tent at the Old Wiesn and Familienplatzl (Family Square) has the cheapest. Complete list of 2017 beer prices.
Care for something less alcoholic? Try one of these 8 non-alcoholic summer drinks.
2017 Design: This year's design will be prominently presented on posters, mugs and merchandise throughout the grounds. Purchase a solid mug to take home with the new design depicting the Riesenrad (Ferris wheel), Mass, pretzel, and Lebkuchenherz (giant gingerbread heart).
Where to Stay: The city is well-prepared for the massive influx each year. That said, prices on accommodation skyrocket during the festival and go even higher for last-minute reservations. Demand is slightly less on weekdays and during the second full-week versus the first week or ending weekend.
Check out our recommended Munich Hotels Near Oktoberfest, or last-minute Oktoberfest accommodations at this point. If you want something less crowded (and pricey), consider one of Germany's many other lesser known beer festivals.