7 essentials to a successful Oktoberfest conversation

  1. Wiesn everywhere 

During the festival, the whole city of Munich is in party mode. Whole companies attend with their colleagues, you hear the Hallodri’s slamming their poetry on public transport, Bayern Munich’s local football heroes get excited on the pitch and in the party tents and everyone turns into a Bavarian for the day.

Locals call the festival Wiesn which is derived from an area in Munich called “Theresienwiese” where the event started and still takes place. It’s all happening in a number of tents (“Zelt” is tent in German) with big benches, music and most importantly… beer.

2. How to order your “Bier” 

The most important word at Oktoberfest is surely “beer”. So here’s your handy table of how to say it in 15 languages:

Language How to say “beer”
English beer
German Bier

You drink a beer in what is called “Maß” – “stein” in English – which is a decently sized 1 litre glass. You will find waitresses walking around the tents carrying more than 10 Maß! The record is 29 Maß and has recently been set by a Bavarian tax inspector. Order one beer by saying “Eine Maß Bier” or even just “Eine Maß”.

3. Lederhosen and beyond: get the right outfit 

A big part of the event is dressing up in a traditional outfit. “Tracht” refers to the costume in general whereas “Lederhosen” are leather trousers (for men) and a “Dirndl” is the traditional Bavarian dress (for women).

4. “Ozapft is”. What

On the first day on Saturday afternoon, the mayor of Munich officially opens the Oktoberfest by tapping the first keg. “Ozapft is” means “it’s tapped”.

5. Making new friends 

The setup with tents and big benches invites conversation with new people and a good opportunity to make friends from all over the world.

It’s encouraged to join people’s tables. Just ask “Ist hier noch frei?” (“Is this seat free”) or “Können wir uns zu euch setzen?” (“Can we join your table?”). Usually a conversation starts straight here. A few other tips to keep the conversation going:

  • “Woher kommst du?” – “Where are you from?”
  • “Ist das dein erstes Oktoberfest?” – “Is it your first time at Oktoberfest?”
  • “Welches Zelt ist am besten?” – “Which tent is the best?”
  • “Welchen Verein unterstützt du?” – “What’s your favourite (football) team?” Good question for locals. They either support Bayern Munich or 1860 München.
  • “Wie viele Maß kannst du trinken?” – “How many steins can you drink?”

It’s also quite normal to stand on the benches to sing and dance, lift your Maß and just enjoy yourself.

6. Brezn & Hendl

Don’t forget to soak up all the beer! The traditional Wiesn snack is a “Brezn” (pretzel). More substantial snacks include “Weißwürste” (sausages) and “Hendl” (roast chicken).

7. Exit plan 

There comes a time, after you had a few Maß and some jolly dances, that you might want to excuse yourself. Don’t be shy to say it as it is – you’re drunk. A few useful expressions:

  • “Ich bin voll wie ein Eimer.” – “I’m as full as a bucket.”
  • ogschdocha” – It means “drunk” in Bavarian. Please practise to say it before you start drinking.
  • “Bis morgen!” – “See you tomorrow!” You’re only leaving to come back refreshed tomorrow.

This year’s event starts on 16 September and runs until 3 October. More info.

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