Sure, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival, but there is so much more to do and see! Beyond just the inside of a tent and the bottom of a stein, Oktoberfest brings visitors to an awesome city in a historic region that you should make sure to experience.
Enjoy the traditional ceremonies, take a spin on the rides, eat your way through all of the traditional Bavarian delicacies, and take all the pics to document your experience!
This is one of the most iconic moments during your fall semester studying abroad in Europe. Don’t miss out!
We’ve been going to Oktoberfest for years and definitely know a thing or two about making the most of the weekend of festivities. If you’re trying to figure out when to go, check out why we love the first Oktoberfest weekend. Or just get in touch and we’ll give you advice so you book the best trip!
Here are some of the best things to do at Oktoberfest that go beyond the steins and tents.
1. Attend the Traditional Oktoberfest Ceremonies
Oktoberfest is, after all, a very traditional event! The world’s largest beer festival originated in 1810 and now attracts locals as well as visitors from all over the world.
Partaking in the traditional ceremonies and events is a great way to add a splash of culture into your otherwise beer-fueled weekend.
Plus, you’ll have some PG-rated stories to tell your family when you get back home after studying abroad.
Things to Do on Weekend 1 in Munich:
Opening Ceremony Parade: Free to watch, tickets for seats can be reserved
On Saturday morning, experience the Oktoberfest opening ceremony.
It all kicks off with the Parade of the Wiesn Landlords and Breweries. Join over 1,000 people to follow the Münchner Kindle, the city mascot, and the carriage of the Munich mayor throughout the town as they make their way towards Theresienwiese, the festival grounds.
Each Wiesn landlord and their family has a flower-covered carriage, which is quite a sight! Plus each of the Munich breweries has one as well, led by draft horses.
The parade is also quite lively as bands march along throughout the time.
“O’zapft is!” Reservations are required in the Schottenhamel tent, or watch on TV/stream live on muenchen.de
The parade ends at the Schottenhamel festival hall where he traditionally taps the keg and cries out, “O’zapft is,” or “it’s tapped!”
Directly after, there are 12 gunshots that signal to all of the beer halls that the beer can be served!
Enjoy watching the Mayor strive to beat the record for the fastest tap. It currently stands tied with Mayor Ude & Mayor Reiter who were able to insert the tap in just two strikes of the hammer.
Traditional Costume & Hunter’s Parade: Free to watch along the route, tickets are available for stands with the best view
On Sunday, make your way to the Maximilianstrasse to watch hunting clubs, marching bands and musicians, and historic costume-clad enthusiasts march through Munich towards Theresienwiese.
A much larger parade than the opening ceremony, this one welcomes around 9,000 participants.
Things to Do on Oktoberfest Weekend 2:
The Wiesn Landlord’s Concert: Free near the foot of the Bavaria statue
On Sunday, the mayor and/or celebrities conduct hundreds of musicians who play the most popular Bavarian traditional songs.
At the end of the musical show, thousands of balloons are released into the sky to the tune of the Bavarian anthem.
Things to Do on Weekend 3 of Oktoberfest:
Festival Conclusion Gun Salute: Free
On the Sunday of Oktoberfest weekend 3, gather at Theresienwiese to see the close of the festival with a music- and gun-powder-packed spectacle.
2. Beyond the Beer, Try all of the Foods
Pork Knuckle, candied almonds, roasted chicken, and pretzels are only a few of the delicacies you can eat in Munich and at the Festival.
3. Ride the Rides & Play Carnival Games
Or, just watch as other inebriated festival-goers try their shot at the traditional challenges. Remember to bring cash with you to ride or play!
Here are some of our favorites…
The Can’t-Miss Classics
The Witches’ Whip (Hexenschaukel)
The “madhouse” has existed since 1894 and was reinaugurated as a regular in 1994. Hop on this for illusions that make you feel like you’re turning upside down.
The Devil’s Wheel (Teufelsrad)
The Devil’s Wheel is a spinning disk challenge where participants try to stay on as long as they can. It’s surrounded by stands so that you can watch as others try their skill (or luck), and it’s a fan favorite because of the MC Wiggerl Kugler.
A carousel might not scream FUN to you after the age of 8, but this is the only ride at Die Wiesn that has its own brass band.
The Giant Swing Carousel (The Wellenflug)
You’ve probably seen the photos on Instagram. Now you can ride in a swing as it spins around and goes up and down in waves. At night, it lights up with colorful flashes.
Willenborg’s Ferris Wheel
Another must-take photo spot, this is the symbol of Oktoberfest. Hop onto one of 40 gondolas that take you over 50 meters high. You can fit up to 10 of your friends in one gondola, or makes friends with someone else.
Another ride ripe for spectators, the Toboggan is half slide, half conveyor belt that riders must climb in order to slide down. Unfortunately, this conveyor belt is more of a challenge than an aide, and the audience loves watching people try to balance their way to the top.
Adrenaline Junky Paradise
This is the world’s largest transportable rollercoaster (it takes a full week to set it up and another week to dismantle it). Zoom through 5 loops at speeds up to 100 km/h. Yup, you’re going upside down, so maybe don’t save this for the end of your night!
This is the world’s tallest tower drop at 80 meters. Lose your breath at the top and catch it at the bottom for a thrill.
The Predator spins around as it rises into the air, then quickly pivots around spinning you upside down and at all angles. Another that we don’t recommend on a post-stein stomach!
If five loops aren’t for you, hop on this traditional roller coater where the car is longer than the rail on which it sits for surprising turns and shocking moments.
4. Have a Photoshoot!
You didn’t dress up in the coolest lederhosen or the prettiest dirndls not to document your experience!
We’ve curated a list of the best Oktoberfest photo-op spots to help you plan the perfect pose.
Don’t forget a selfie stick. They actually come in handy for shots on the rides or to get your whole squad in a shot inside the tents.
5. Explore Munich Outside of Oktoberfest.
We recommend a city bike tour and a few day trips that take you to locations in the Bavarian countryside, like the castle that inspired Walt Disney to create the Sleeping Beauty castle.
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This article was originally written in May 2019 and updated in July 2022.