Munich, capital city of the German state of Bavaria, hosts the largest Oktoberfest in the world. Every year the city attracts around six million visitors for the big beer event, and if you’re a newbie to Oktoberfest in Munich, there are a few terms you may need to get your head around. Oktoberfest 2017 officially opens this Saturday 16 September and will run until 3 October.
Thanks to Babbel, “the shortest path to a real-life conversation in a new language”, here are a few essential tips, fun facts and some helpful vocab for this legendary celebration of all things beer.
1. O’zapft is!
The opening of the first keg – and therefore the start of the festival – is likely to begin with the traditional Bavarian exclamation “O’zapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”)
2. The traditional Bierzelt
This “beer tent” isn’t the kind of thing you’d take camping: Munich’s largest seats up to 10,000 people. Once you find your tent and a space inside it, you’d be well advised to stay put: just as there’s no Oktoberfest without a Bierzelt, there’s no ordering beer without a seat.
3.“A Maß, please!”
You can’t just stock up on cans of beer at your local supermarket and call it Oktoberfest. Beer is brewed specially for the occasion and served in one-litre mugs known as Maßkrug or Maß for short. Along with the typical German toast “Prost!”, you’re likely to hear people clinking glasses with the Bavarian “Oans, zwoa, g’suffa!” – “One, two, drink up!”.
4. Real Brezn and other Bavarian specialties
Good beer deserves good food (and you’ll thank yourself in the morning). Be sure to sample the hearty Bavarian dishes on offer: Brezn (Pretzels), Obazda (a Bavarian cheese delicacy typically eaten with Brezn), Hendl (Austro-Bavarian for “roast chicken”) and Haxn (roasted ham hock) are all delicious.
A Lebkuchenherz is a gingerbread shaped like a heart. It’s traditionally decorated with icing sugar and inscribed with messages like “Ich liebe dich” (“I love you”), “Schatzi” (“sweetie”) or love notes of a… less romantic nature. You’ve been warned.
6. The Dirndl…
A Dirndl is a traditional dress for women that’s popular among female Oktoberfest visitors. They’re often very flattering, but before you take that as an invitation to flirt, have a closer look. If she’s tied her ribbon on the right side, she’s spoken for. If it’s on the left, viel Spass – she’s single!
7. and the Lederhose
Gents, if you really want to get into the spirit of Oktoberfest, you need to leave the sneakers, jeans and baseball caps back home. You’ll fit in much better wearing Lederhosen – traditional leather pants. To complete the look, add a Charivari (a kind of chain), Loferl (calf-warmers) and Haferl-Schuhe (traditional shoes).
8. Oktoberfest worldwide
Today there are approximately 3,000 Oktoberfests around the world. From the US and Canada, to Brazil, Australia, Russia and Japan, you’re bound to find a convenient location. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the biggest is in Qingdao, China. Celebrations there attract around 3 million visitors each year.