Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Oktober Fest in September

I am actually surprised that I havent written about this all along given that the October fest has been an integral part of my life in the last few years....hang on, don't brand me as a ''beer drinker'' (for the record, I hate the smell of beer and I haven't been able to figure out how so many people like it)....there is a much simpler reason....I live just a stone's throw away from where the fest takes place and that means.....

.......I see the preparations from scratch everyday enroute to work and it starts in July !
.......I visit the fest atleast 4 times; somehow many of my friends suddenly want to visit me during this season :D
.......I shocked the waitress (who stared at me for a few seconds) by ordering a glass of water; was probably the first one to do so in a beer festival !
.......I own a dirndl (a traditional dress - a white blouse, pinafore with an apron)

So why all the fuss ? It is considered one of the world famous fests (many people claim that is the largest fest but I always have my doubts when anyone uses the superlative). If October fest does not ring a bell, then wikipedia can help you.

First of all, the October fest begins in the 2nd of week september and ends on the first couple of days in October. It is a sort of misnomer, but weather is to blame for that since it gets way too cold in October and the fest is not as enjoyable.

Second of all, only breweries from Munich are allowed to participate in the fest. Each brewery will have its own tent, with its own beer and band. Beer served in the fest has a higher alcohol content than normal and the min quantity you can order is 1 litre. The waitresses take a bet on how many 1 litre glasses they can carry at the same time and the glass weighs atleast half a kilo!!

Third of all, the fest is inaugurated by the official tapping of the keg by by the mayor as youngsters eagerly wait to get their first beer and this is around noon ! I was confused and amazed at the same time when I first saw this :)

Finally, there is a parade of the breweries and this begins with a professional canon salute. I have always been amazed at how some of my friends and colleagues remain faithful to their favorite brewery ! Do you know you can actually get an engineering degree in brewing and beverage technology ?!

Just like Germany, October fest is not just about beer. It is more or less like a trade fair with a lot of fun rides (I have been on nearly all of them), lot of home made items to buy, lot of food stalls right from pancakes to fruit dipped in chocolate (I would die for pineapple with white chocolate !) and if you notice closely, lot of family time - I have seen pics of babies with the title ''His/Her first october fest'', have heard of proposal stories that took place there, have heard funny ''my first beer'' stories to gross ''I-puked-here'' stories, have celebrated a project completion with my colleagues here and have numerous fond memories of spending time here with my near and dear ones.....October fest is simply a celebration for everyone living here and if you live in Europe or ever happen to here in September, you should definitely take a peek.

Tips for visitors
  • Hotel prices are ridiculously high during October fest and hotels close to the city centre get booked really fast. So book one well in advance. Booking.com is a good place to look for hotels. When you pick a hotel, pick one close to the U-Bahn station and/or close to Theresienwiese (place where the fest takes place) or hauptbahnhof (central station)
  • Parking can be a catastrophe during the fest, so I would suggest leaving the car in the hotel and walking or taking the public transport to the fest. When you book a hotel, make sure you get a parking spot too.
  • Be prepared to deal with a crowd. If you are from Chennai, imagine T-Nagar a few days before Diwali.
  • Be prepared to deal with the prices. A glass of beer (glass here is 1 litre, the min quantity you can order) is around 8-9 euro
  • If you are coming with a large group, especially on a weekend and you want to be seated in one of tents, make reservations. Otherwise you will easily wait 2 hours or more get a table.
Also, herzlich Wilkommen zum Oktober Fest ! Prost !
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