OK people. Oktoberfest is officially in full swing. The brew has been tapped and the pretzels baked and the hotels…well, filled. The luxury hotel collection Rocco Forte Hotels dropped some advice into our inbox regarding tips for ladies visiting Oktoberfest, and as seasoned female revelers at Munich’s massive party, we’ve got some priceless tidbits of our own to add:
· Drink: The only authentic drink at the Oktoberfest, even for women, is beer. But caution is advised—the typical Munich festival beer, specially brewed for Oktoberfest has a higher alcohol percentage than average. When drinking with others it is polite to clink your glasses, while looking the person in the eyes, and say “Prost.”
Jaunted Says: Whoa—not true about beer being the only authentic drink! In fact, we’d argue there are two other beverages it’s “authentic” to drink at Oktoberfest, both of which work out well for those who don’t particularly enjoy chugging beer: champagne and schnapps. Look beyond the ginormous beer tents to the Weinzelt tent, a smaller tent that specialises in Nymphenburger Sekt—sekt being German champagne. Even smaller and dotted around the Theresienwiese are schnapps booths, where a few Euro goes a long way (towards getting drunkers).
· Dress code: The dress code at the Oktoberfest is not strict, however T-Shirts printed with “I survived Oktoberfest” scream ‘tourist’. It is considered far more attractive to wear a traditional costume. That means for women a “Dirndl.” These pretty Bavarian dresses come in many colours with varying skirt lengths. A “no go” in combination with a Dirndl are trainers. High heels are a little better, but with the amount of walking from tent to roller-coaster to almond stall, they are not the most practical choice. The best and most elegant choice is a pair of flat pumps.
Jaunted says: Leave the Dirndls to the pros, aka the locals, other Germans and folks who come year after year just to dress up in the intricate dresses. Tourists wanting to don a Dirndl will often buy cheap ones specifically made for tourists, sporting inflated pricetags and lower quality. Most of the exquisitely beautiful ones you’ll see (and covet) on other women are handmade or family heirlooms.
If you really must, Rocco Forte’s Charles Hotel in Munich has a package that includes not only a custom Dirndl, but also transportation to and from Schatzi Dirndl for fittings, two nights at the five-star hotel, a Bavarian gift, and breakfast each day. More info on that right here.
· Flirting: The highly sociable Oktoberfest attracts visitors from across the world. The best weekend for flirting is the second Wiesn as the suave Italians jet in for the weekend. The two-day period has even been named the ‘Italian Weekend’. There is a secret code to flirting, recognised by many regular visitors. For women, if you tie the bow of your Dirndl skirt on the left hand side it tells others you are single. On the right hand-side and men will (hopefully) understand that you are not seeking any advances. If given a gingerbread heart you can be assured that you have an admirer.
Jaunted says: Totally correct on everything above except for the claim that “Italian Weekend” is the best time to flirt. Look, we love Italian dudes as much as the next red-blooded girl, but not this sort of Italian dude. They’re here to be drunk and obnoxious and make slurred, lazy passes at any skirt that walks by. No thanks.
We’re all about “Gay Weekend,” which was this past weekend (whoops, you missed it), mainly because you can just be crazy with a 50% chance of being lazily hit on. And when you do find someone with whom to flirt away the day, it’s far likelier he’s got a gay friend or two to keep things less awkward and the conversation rolling.
· Dancing: Dancing to live folk music is a very popular pastime at the festival. However, beware—swinging your hips in the aisles is forbidden (no space for the beer attendants). The only place to dance is on your seat bench, whilst avoiding the temptation to hop onto the tables (also banned).
Jaunted says: Hopping on tables is banned, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t up on their benches. Just another not to wear a dirndl, really. We hope you like dancing to songs like “Sweet Home Alabama.” You’ll see why.
· Food: Like beer, food is bountiful. From roasted almonds, to candy floss, fried sausages and ‘mackerel on a stick’. Most popular is ‘Hendel’ grilled chicken, served with a large pretzel. It is best to forget all notions of weight-watching whilst at the Oktoberfest: a pretzel itself contains almost 500 calories. A good excuse for even more dancing.
Jaunted says: Order the chicken and don’t care how you look eating the thing like a cavewoman. Chase it with a pretzel…or four. Don’t buy a giant gingerbread heart because you won’t eat it and it’s a bitch to transport home in luggage (we’ve tried). Other than this, outside of the tents it’s your basic festival fare.
· Beating the lines: It is not unusual for beer tents to close by lunchtime when they have reached maximum capacity. Those who do not have reservations can sometimes have a long wait. The best way to beat the lines is to go to the back or the sides of the tent where the lines are much shorter. Wide smiles also work well. Never offer money at the door—it will ensure they stay closed. Tipping the waiters and waitresses is highly recommended however and will guarantee you quick service for the next round of drinks.
Jaunted says: Completely true. If you want a seat and you don’t have reservations, you need to plan on arriving early and, thus, drinking early. It’s a game of chance. When you make it into a beer tent and have a seat at an empty or partially empty table, you may be kicked out at any time by an arriving party with reservations for it.
We managed to hold down a table in the Hacker-Pschorr tent from 10am (their opening time on a weekday) to noon, and a Spaten tent the next day from 11am to 2pm. By then, that was enough. Perhaps also try back in the late evenings when groups have gotten too drunk or restless to remain in their reserved tables.
***Pro tip: Look around you while everyone is standing and swaying their beer steins during the toasting song (Ein Prosit). It happens like every 15 minutes and you’ll come to know it well, but other don’t. Legions of tourists confidently chanting the wrong lyrics are one of our favourite Oktoberfest sights. Learn the correct words and pronunciation so you can shout above them, with even greater confidence. You’ll get many winks from old German men, too. Bonus!
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