The A to Z Guide to Munich’s Oktoberfest
Join us live from this year’s 184th Oktoberfest via Facebook Live on September 17 at 1 p.m. ET/7 p.m. local time in Munich. RSVP here.
From A for Anstich to Z for Zuzln: We’ve put together an alphabetical cheat sheet to help you get through the 184th Oktoberfest like a pro.
A for Anstich: “Tapping beer.” Each year, Oktoberfest is officially opened by the elected mayor of Munich on the first day of the festival, traditionally at noon in the Schottenhamel Tent. Beer can be served officially only after the mayor calls out “O’zapft is” or “It’s tapped, the crowd can let loose!”
B for Beer: Okay, this one may be obvious, but beer has been the longstanding traditional beverage of Oktoberfest, and according to some, the only thing you can truly expect at the festival (it’s difficult to predict what will happen once people start drinking the liquid gold). While there are many varieties to choose from throughout the festival grounds, the options are often narrowed down based on which tents you decide to visit.
C for Champagne: After beer, Champagne is the second most popular drink at Oktoberfest. If you’re more interested in drinking Champagne than beer, it’s best to avoid the big beer tents, and instead seek out the somewhat classier establishments in the wine tents: Marstall and Käfers Wiesnschänke. Just be aware these tents are also often full.
D for Dirndl: The dirndl has been the customary uniform for females attending Oktoberfest for many years. While there are many inauthentic dirndls available in the tourist shops in and around the main train station, proper dirndls have very clear specifications — especially regarding the length. The skirt should never end above the knee. There are also some established rules regarding the fabric: namely, paper is not an appropriate dirndl material. For more helpful tips on how to navigate Oktoberfest, check out the Do’s and Don’ts at Oktoberfest.
E for Entry Caps: A sad, yet somewhat inevitable occurrence at Oktoberfest. When tents reach a predetermined capacity, they are closed and no additional festivalgoers are able to enter. In order to avoid unfortunate situations like this, check out the Oktoberfest barometer to plan the best times to beat the crowds and party in the tents, or make a reservation in advance.
F for Flirting: Flirting is practically a national sport at Oktoberfest — everybody flirts with everyone. Depending on whether you want to welcome or fend off someone’s flirting advances, it’s important to tie your dirndl in the correct way. A bow tied to the right signals that you’re taken, whereas a bow tied to the left demonstrates that you’re single.
G for Gaudi: The Bavarian word for fun or atmosphere, as well as for noise. This term can be used a variety of ways. Examples: “Geh, des war doch nur a Gaudi” = “I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean that seriously”; “Mir hamma so a Gaudi ghobt” = “We really had a lot of fun”; “Des war oba a Gaudi in dem Zelt” = “The noise level in the tent was seriously uncomfortable.” Given the range of meanings, it might be better to pick the phrase you think you’ll use most and memorize it than to try alternating between different phrases.
H for Hendl: Hendl is the traditional roast chicken served at Oktoberfest. It is also commonly referred to as gickerl. If you want any sides to accompany the roast chicken, you need to order them separately. Additionally, asking for silverware is a local faux pas — it’s conventional to eat the meal with your hands and then use the wipes that come with it to clean your fingers after.
I for Instagram: A social media platform that allows you to post pictures and videos in real time via Instagram story, as well as after Oktoberfest has ended through your profile feed. Because beer and Champagne tend to impair judgement, it may be best to forgo posting live events to your Instagram story and wait until you get back home so you can sift through all the photos you took, then post (and edit) the best ones.
J for Janker: The outerwear for men. This refers to a traditional jacket which is worn with lederhosen. Jankers are made of heavy wool fabric and typically have traditional horn buttons on them. Unlike the dirndls, you don’t have to be as discerning when picking out a janker, as most of the ones for sale are of the traditional variety.
K for Kotzhügel: A part of Bavaria that festivalgoers should avoid. That is, unless you’re feeling acutely nauseous or you are suddenly tired from consuming too much alcohol and you want to spend time with people in the same situation. People found there are randomly checked for vital signs by police and paramedics.
L for Lederhosen: Lederhosen, also known as krachlederne, are a must-have for a traditional Bavarian outfit. Pair these pants with a janker, haferl shoes and knee-high socks or leg warmers to complete the outfit. Lederhosen can be either shorter or longer than knee length, with or without suspenders, and embroidered with light or dark brown, blue, green or gray stitching. You may want to do some research before purchasing a pair — people in the know can tell lineage based on the design of your lederhosen.
M for Maß: The stein which allows you to consume beer. Additionally, it is the word that best allows you to identify a saupreiß. Despite being a short word, it isn’t easy to pronounce correctly. The emphasis should be on the “ß” which makes a “ss” sound and the “a” should only be quickly intoned. Don’t be the foreigner pronouncing the word as “Maaaaas.”
N for Noagal: Naogal is the last little bit of beer left in the Maß that the drinker can’t finish. Usually it’s about two fingers worth of leftover beer in a stein which has already lost its freshness and carbonation. Oktoberfest newbies will drink their noagal, but those in the know prefer to just order a new Maß.
O for O’zapft is: The announcement that thousands of people long to hear year after year. Once the mayor says “O’zapft is” to signal that he successfully anstich (tapped) the first keg, Oktoberfest is officially open and the festivities commence.
P for Prost: What you say when you clink steins. It’s the equivalent of “cheers,” “salud,” or “a santé,” all of which are taboo on festival grounds and should be used under no circumstance at Oktoberfest. When you do say “prost” and clink your glasses, though, be sure to bump the glasses from the bottom — glasses are thin and may break, so bumping them from the bottom will ensure they stay intact.
Q for Qingdao: While not necessarily a Bavarian phrase, Qingdao is a port city in China that hosts the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich, with nearly 4 million visitors last year. The massive festival typically begins in the first or second week of August and features beer from all over the world, including Tsingtao from China, Beck’s from Germany, Kirin & Asahi from Japan, Carlsberg from Denmark, Corona from Mexico, Heineken from Holland, Tiger from Singapore, Budweiser from the U.S. and more!
R for Reservation: Pretty much the only opportunity to get a hold of a seat in one of the tents and to avoid entry caps. Reservations start a year in advance, and regular festivalgoers are often prioritized. To book a reservation, you’ll need to pay in advance, but reservations typically come with two beer tickets and a hendl ticket. Though it’s difficult to commit to something a year in advance, you’ll appreciate your reservation when you’re at the festival — it is impossible to try to outwit the person at the door by saying, “But I do have a reservation, that’s my table there in the front.”
S for Saupreiß: A common and in no way offensive name Bavarians use for people who are from across the “Weisswurst Equator.” This barrier is usually demarcated along the Danube River, at the border of Bavaria or at a latitude of 49 degrees.
T for Tourists: Groups of people that help make up the 6 million people who attend Oktoberfest each year. People from Munich define a tourist as a person who doesn’t live within the circle line of the S-Bahn, and who therefore must take a train, car or even an airplane to get to Oktoberfest. Tourist often has the same meaning as saupreiß.
U for U-bahn/Uber: The U-bahn is Munich’s underground railway. It’s a great way to get around during the festival if you’re trying to save money. A three-day ticket for a single person costs €16, and a group pass that works for up to five people is €28.20. These passes also work for Munich’s other modes of public transportation, including the S-Bahn, trams and buses. However, if you’re a tourist who has enjoyed too much beer to navigate the underground system, spring for an Uber. Though more expensive than the U-bahn, an Uber will be cheaper than a taxi and will get you directly to where you’re staying so you won’t have to pass out in the Kotzhügel.
V for Verloren: Verloren is the German word for lost and can be used in reference to either a person or things. While there is a Lost and Found open daily from 1-11 p.m. to help with missing things, police may be the best option to help with a missing friend. In all likelihood, though, your friend has just found refuge in the Kotzhügel or is partying with a new group of friends.
W for Wiesn: The Bavarian term for Oktoberfest. Wiesn attracts over 6 million people from all over the world to Munich each year. Variations of the 16-day festival can be found in many different countries, including Brazil, Canada, the U.S., China and more. To learn more about these other celebrations; see our blog on Oktoberfest around the World.
X for Xtra Strength Tylenol: Xtra Strength Tylenol is a must for a painless (or less painful) Wiesn experience. For maximum effectiveness, try pairing a couple of Xtra Strength Tylenol with a cool glass of water or an electrolyte-loaded drink like Gatorade or Powerade.
Y for Youth: Youth is an asset at Oktoberfest. Drinking beer for 12 hours is no easy feat, and having a young liver is quite helpful to survival. Nonetheless, as long as you’re young at heart, you will be able to do anything you put your mind to — even if that involves outdrinking the millennials.
Z for Zuzln: The correct way to consume weißwurst. In order to enjoy this traditional fare, you should avoid the tough, rubber skin by cutting a lengthwise slit into the sausage and then pulling the skin off with your fingers. Failing to perform this step makes it pretty obvious that you’re a saupreiß or possibly a tourist.