Oktoberfest 2020 may be cancelled, but we won’t let that stop us from recollecting 100 great moments to be experienced at the world’s biggest folk festival. Let’s get started!
1. How, from July, the festival grounds start to awaken from their slumber tent by tent, one booth at a time.
2. How the city gets all done out in white and blue to welcome its guests.
3. The distinctive aroma of roasted malt from the breweries.
4. The question of how many blows will be needed for the ceremonial tapping of the first barrel by the mayor.
5. If the weather is fine on the first day on the Wiesn – it’s thanks to Aloisius!
6. Dressing up, from a pair of Haferl shoes to wearing your hair in plaits.
7. The announcement at the closest U-Bahn station, Theresienwiese: “Ned schiam, ned kratzn, ned beißn, ’s Bier reicht für alle!” – No pushing, no scratching, no biting; there’s enough beer for everyone!
8. The splendid arrival of the festively decorated Oktoberfest brewers’ carts loaded with barrels of beer.
9. Getting carried along towards the fairground on a tide of euphoric people.
10. The feverish scurrying for position in the tents until Mayor Reiter has taken his post and...
“Ozapft is!” – The keg’s tapped!
11. ... announced “Ozapft is!” – The keg’s tapped!
12. That first cool mouthful of what locals call “liquid bread”.
13. The band striking up “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” – a traditional song that exhorts a toast to good cheer – every fifteen minutes.
14. Showing non-Bavarians how to hold a beer mug without breaking their fingers.
15. The joy of winning yourself a plastic rose at the shooting gallery.
16. Supersized pretzels.
17. The heritage proudly on display in the traditional costume and hunters’ parade, in which thousands of people take part.
18. Demonstrations of active mutual cooperation in the form of Zamruckn (squeezing up to make room on benches), Zuprosten (toasting) and Mitschunkeln (swaying along to the music).
19. Coming together thanks to the communal experiences of traditional dress and the dreaded Wiesngrippe (Oktoberfest flu).
20. The dull clink of beer mugs meeting for a toast.
21. Children wearing traditional costume and filling their faces with candy floss.
22. The lucky ones who get to take a break with a seat under the Bavaria statue.
23. The jingling bells on the harnesses of the magnificent brewery horses.
24. Being in the Herzkasperl tent and fobbing off one of the traditional performers with a vegan Wirsingwickel (cabbage roll) rather than a meat one – and they don’t even notice!
25. Seeing Wiesn newbies rub their hoibads Hendl (half a chicken) with the accompanying lemon-scented moist towelette.
26. Watching the hair-raising feats of daredevils riding the steep sides of the “wall of death” on amazing motorbikes.
27. The double relief of finding your way back to your seat after a trip to the loo.
28. Taking a turn in the nostalgic Krinoline carousel, complete with live brass band.
29. Getting into a tent at noon and ordering roast pork with a potato dumpling and cabbage.
30. Getting into a tent. At the weekend. Without a reservation. After 9:01 a.m.
“Oans, zwoa, drei Gsuffa!” – “One, two, three, down the hatch!”
31. How Munich morphs from a village into a metropolis during carnival – our “fifth season”.
32. “Oans, zwoa, drei Gsuffa!” (“One, two, three, down the hatch!”)
33. Seeing competitors cracking whips, performers doing lively traditional Schuhplattler folk dancing, and servers carrying 14 full steins – and then wondering what you’re actually capable of yourself.
34. Having older locals compliment your traditional costume in dialect: “So a dantschiges Deandl!” – What a charming dirndl!; “So a fescher Bua!” – Such a stylish lad!
35. Difficult choices at the nut stall – curry-flavoured cashews or flaxseeds with cinnamon?
36. Romantically holding hands with your beloved on the chair swing ride.
37. The adrenaline rush of realising “actually, it’s bigger than I thought” on the 80-metre-tall Bayerntower chair swing ride.
38. The panoramic view from the freefall tower – at eye level with the statue of Mother Bavaria, the world’s largest beer mug at the Paulaner brewery, and Paulskirche church.
39. Guessing people’s nationality based on their “traditional” costume.
40. Letting someone know “I mog Di” (I like you) with a gingerbread heart the size of a car tyre.
41. Gobbling up the “I mog Di” gingerbread heart gifted by the person sitting next to you – and promptly forgetting all about it.
42. Rolling your eyes as you deign to board the ghost train and then nearly peeing your pants during the ride.
43. Silently marvelling at the unflappable Wiesn servers.
44. Discussions about the correct length for a dirndl skirt (ankle-length, of course).
45. Discussing which is the best beer at the Oktoberfest.
46. Celeb-spotting – where are the Effenbergs?
47. Looking for Bayern Munich players in the Paulaner festival tent hidden-object picture (and finding the Effenbergs).
48. Roasted almonds in your nostrils – whether just their aroma or something more literal.
49. Teaching non-Bavarians the dialect: “Ein Maas Beere, bidschee” – a mug of beer please
50. “Grattler” (good-for-nothing), “Quadratratschn” (motormouth), “Zipfeklatscher” (idiot) – getting non-Bavarians to parrot insults.
“I mog Di” – “I like you”
51. Beautiful women in beautiful dirndls.
52. People wearing novelty headgear in the form of a cuddly roast chicken that claps its legs together.
53. Being dragged onto the Wilde Maus rollercoaster against your will – and loving it.
54. Being dragged back for a second go and still thinking that the trolley is going to fly off the rails.
55. Being captivated by a “beheading” on stage in the Schichtl – a gruesome entertainment that has a long heritage at the Wiesn.
56. Unrestrainedly bellowing “Heeeeeeey, hey baby, OOH! AH!” in chorus with innumerable other tone-deaf singers.
57. Sprawling on the steps of the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame) with a Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick) to go.
58. Regretting going on the Olympia Looping five-loop rollercoaster – again and again and again...
59. Adding another layer of patina to your lederhosen, from sitting on sticky beer benches.
60. Listening to the tall tales and survival stories of Aussies in the Hofbräu beer tent.
61. The rising and fading screams of terror from fairground rides.
62. Being part of an event that the whole world knows about and (almost) the whole world likes.
63. That one friend you have who you only see at the Wiesn every year, and always at the same regulars’ table.
64. How in the tent, you take a seat and make new friends.
65. Being proud to be a Munich local and therefore a host.
66. Taking your children and nieces and nephews to marvel at the flea circus for the umpteenth time.
67. Sitting under the Bavarian sky, in the Armbrustschützen beer garden.
68. Sitting under the “Himmel der Bayern” (Heaven of the Bavarians) painting, in the Hacker beer tent.
69. Marvelling at the wonderful Vogelpfeifers (bird whistlers) and trying out a whistle yourself.
70. Being torn between the gastronomic delights of a sugar rush and a Fischsemmel (fish roll).
“Himmel der Bayern” – “Heaven of the Bavarians”
71. Finally being able to breathe freely after undoing your dirndl bodice.
72. Laughing at the people travelling unsteadily up the conveyor belt of the Toboggan ride and declaring that you could do better.
73. Acting on the terrible idea of having a go on the Teufelsrad (Devil’s Wheel) ride after three steins of beer.
74. Folk music. Live. Everywhere. And nobody finds it outdated.
75. Insider knowledge: even though Italian weekend falls on week two, don’t expect the Italian visitors to arrive then – because they’ve already been here for ages!
76. Griping about the price of beer but nonetheless ordering a second stein.
77. Griping about the price of beer but nonetheless spilling it all while dancing.
78. “Mistmatz”, “Muschi”, “King Ludi” – getting terms of endearment burned onto clothes pegs.
79. Suddenly enjoying perennial German pop favourites like “Atemlos” (Breathless) and “Ich hab ’ne Zwiebel auf dem Kopf, ich bin ein Döner” (I have an onion on my head, I am a doner kebab).
80. Taking a ride on the Ferris wheel – to enjoy a warm föhn breeze and a view of the Alps, or to admire the sea of lights below at dusk.
81. Men → sturdy calves in lederhosen.
82. Arriving at the Wiesn in your civvies and becoming invisible (you really do!)
83. Being able to answer foreigners when they ask why Oktoberfest starts in the middle of September (because the weather is better).
84. Wide-eyed children in front of the kitsch Café Kaiserschmarrn sugar castle.
85. The irrepressible hunger for a Lachsersatzsemmel (a roll with smoked pollack) that you exclusively experience during Oktoberfest.
86. When the backpackers from Australia and New Zealand show off their drinking skills.
87. Looking with understanding at those who go completely off the rails for 16 days.
88. Looking with disbelief at those who stay fresh as a newly-poured beer for the whole 16 days.
89. Indulging in a schnapps or a prosecco spritz in the Guglhupf revolving tent at happy hour (you can get cake too!).
90. That last stroll through the blissfully depleted festival grounds.
“Kehraus” – “Last dance”
91. Snatching the last rickshaw from under the nose of a non-local (okay, okay... letting him have it and walking boozily home).
92. When the lion at the entrance to the Löwenbräu tent roars “Löööwenbräu” and scares someone for the first time.
93. In the Hacker tent, bidding farewell to the Wiesn with sparklers for the Kehraus (last dance) as “Sierra Madre del Sur” plays.
94. Swaying to “Weus’d a Herz hast wia a Bergwerk” (Because you have a heart like a mine) in the Schützen tent during the Kehraus that marks the end of the Wiesn season.
95. Holding back tears as you say your goodbyes to the strains of “Purple Rain” during the Kehraus in the Löwenbräu tent.
96. Meanwhile, Kehraus in the Hofbräu tent means a distinctly localised rendition of Robbie Williams’ biggest hit: “Ei lav än Ängel instäääääd! Änd sru it aaall, schi offers mi protäktschn...”
97. Sipping from jugs of Champagne, in the midst of shimmering, bejewelled dirndls and voluminous hairdos, because the home of the in-crowd – AKA the Käfer tent – is allowed to serve until one o’clock in the morning.
98. Heading to Kuffler’s wine tent after the beer tents have closed and continuing to drink Champagne until one o’clock in the morning.
99. One for the road: a Steaksemmel (steak sandwich) and Früchtespieß (fruit skewer) on the way home.
100. Saying “Servus” and hoping the response will be “auf Wiedersehen” – rather than “goodbye”.