Oktoberfest in Munich, the world's most famous beer festival, takes place every year in late September to early October. It draws over 6 million visitors to the Wiesn (festival grounds) and is one of the most popular times of year to visit Germany.
Find out when Oktoberfest in Munich is held each year, as well as the best times to book a table, accommodations, and more. All this planning will help you raise a glass in victory - prost (cheers)!
When Is Oktoberfest Held Each Year?
Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich begin in September - yes, September. The original celebration in 1810 was completely in October, celebrating the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. It was such a success, they decided to hold it every year and extended it gradually from 5 days up to 18 days. To take advantage of the warmer weather, they added days into September.
Today, it runs until the first Sunday in October, or on October 3 (Day of German Unity or Tag der Deutschen Einheit, a national holiday), whatever is later. In a "good" year, the Fest is extended to catch the October 3rd bank holiday - on a Monday or Tuesday. This occurred last in 2017, and will happen again in 2022.
The festival lasts for at least 16 days for over two weeks of excess.
- 2019: September 21 - October 6
- 2020: September 19 - October 4
- 2021: September 18 - October 3
When to Plan Your Visit
Oktoberfest has visitors from across the globe and some days are busier than others. The opening and closing days are some of the most crowded where entry may only be allowed if you have a reservation in the beer tents. Weekends and holidays are also quite busy and may be subject to these restrictions.
But if you want to miss the most chaotic moments of the festival, plan your visit for mid-week, particularly in the second week.
Another thing to consider is the special days that are planned throughout the festival.
- Opening Day: Led by a parade at 11:00, the ceremonial tapping of the keg is led by the mayor of Munich in the Schottenhamel tent with a shout of O`zapft is! (It is tapped!). To get a good seat, visitors often arrive by 9 am to watch the events at noon.
- Costume and Riflemen's Parade: The Sunday after the opening holds a parade in tracht (traditional clothing)
- Gay Sunday: Also the first Sunday is the largest gay gathering of the festival. This is followed by events on Monday known as RoslMontag and a finale event.
- Family day: Rides costs less on two family days on the Tuesdays mid-fest.
- Religious Mass: The first Thursday holds the traditional religious mass.
- Brass band concert: The second Sunday has traditional live bands at the foot of the Alps
- Gun salute: On the last Sunday, there is a gun salute to conclude the event on the Bavarian monument
Note that hotel reservations are bound to be more expensive than usual. Still, you don't need to break the bank more than necessary if you plan in advance and are flexible.
As noted earlier, opening and closing weekends, as well as weekends in general, are the most popular and expensive times to visit. If you can plan your visit for the second week of Oktoberfest accommodations are easier to come by and a little less expensive.
Try to plan where to stay a year in advance ideally, but you may also come up with deals if you keep checking your favorite locations. Cancellations placed that far in advance are common and you may still score a great place with persistence.
Beer Tent Reservations
Placing a reservation is fairly straightforward and can be done online for most tents. However, the most popular days and tents will still require planning. Some beer tents accept reservations as early as November or December the proceeding year, and you should reserve by at least January and February. Confirmations are generally sent out around March.
To find out which beer tent is home to the best yodelers, the most celebrities, and the best food, check out the list of best Oktoberfest beer tents.