A little Oktoberfest tent overview to guide you through the beer tent jungle.
The Munich Oktoberfest offers 14 large beer tents, additional three beer tents at the Oide Wiesn, and an even larger number of small beer tents. As the small tents don’t have unreserved areas in the evening, reservation-less visitors will have to choose between the large ones. Which one is the most fun for you, depends on your personal preferences.
My Dirndl twinkles. Where is the jet-set?
The most popular retreats for typical jet-set people in the middle third of their lives are the Käferzelt (inside reservation-only), the Weinzelt, the Bratwurst, and the Marstall. The latter has not quite made the transformation from the Hippodrom, however. Today, the twinkling Dirndls are mostly filled with women not coming from Munich. Younger owners of sparkling Dirndls prefer posting pictures from the Schützenfestzelt on Instagram. Schützenzelt boxes, however, are again populated with older folks as are the other mentioned tents.
Where do I find young party people?
Near the music stages, you find very young people traditionally in the Schottenhamel, which is not very busy during the day. Its unreserved area fills pretty early with students on field trips.
Visitors older than 20 may be happier in the Hackerzelt or the Schützenzelt, the first being more down-to-earth than the latter, which has only a very small unreserved area, where the youngsters meet. In general, the crowds in the unreserved sections are younger than in other parts in any tent.
I’d like an authentic experience
Since the 90s you could hear many people ranting about the Ballerman-like transformation of most Oktoberfest tents. Even in the afternoon, traditional brass music is hardly ever played in some tents. At least before 5 pm, traditionalists will be happy with the Ochsenbraterei. The overall, by far most traditional atmosphere offers the Augustiner-Festhalle. The music there is significantly more traditional than elsewhere, and the tent has been basically the same since 1928. The number of regulars, who worship this tent cult-like, is tremendous. Bräurosl at least offer a good portion of brass music before 6:30 pm.
If you are culturally interested, you should also visit the Oide Wiesn. The Festzelt Tradition offers not only traditional brass music all day but also traditional Bavarian dances, which have, however, admittedly never been a significant part of Oktoberfest history.
I just want to party!
Foreign party tourists will be most happy with the Hofbräu or the Löwenbräu tent, but Winzerer Fähndl (Paulaner Festhalle) is also getting more popular with tourists and is a good choice if you prefer nightclubs over beer tents. Especially German-speaking tourists may add the very Ballerman-like Schottenhamel-Festhalle to the list. Locals prefer the Hacker-Festzelt or the Schützenfestzelt, the first one even being a little more traditional in the afternoon.
I. Don’t. Like. Beer!
The beverage lists are traditionally very small at Oktoberfest. Besides water and some soft drinks, the offering includes the Oktoberfest beer of the tent’s brewery, sometimes also Radler or alcohol-free beer. Schnapps is available in any tent.
If you prefer wine, you either have to visit one of the small tents or one of the following list: Marstall, Fischer-Vroni, Armbrustschützenzelt, Schützenfestzelt, Käfer Wiesnschänke, Schottenhamel and – of course – the Weinzelt.