Is the Oktoberfest too expensive and overcrowded?

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Tables for the Oktoberfest need to be reserved several months in advance (think January or February) and a beer costs around €9, if you can get one. The nearly seven million visitors to the city while the Oktoberfest is happening make the experience, unless heavily intoxicated, oftentimes very unpleasant.

Many people, including most of the locals, certainly do feel like the Oktoberfest is too expensive and overcrowded, but what can you do?

The Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and of course is an experience like no other because of that, but it certainly isn’t the only Bavarian festival. In fact, many would argue that it is just too much of a hassle and they prefer any number of the smaller “volksfests” (people’s festivals) of the area.

The smaller volksfest alternative is dramatically cheaper and for people looking for something similar, but without the hassle, any number of these may be ideal.

Major Beer festivals in or near Munich include Rosenheim’s Herbstfest, the Dachauer volksfest, and the starkbierfest. At these festivals the atmosphere is very similar to the Oktoberfest, but with cheaper beer, more locals, and less tourists. They do not happen all at the same time, in fact they’re spread out through the spring, summer, and fall so that pretty much whenever you visit Bavaria you have a reasonable chance of being able to visit a volksfest and have most of the atmosphere with nearly no hassle at all.

This website lists volksfests from all around the Munich area, so you can easily find one that is going on while you’re in the area.

Here are some pictures of the Dachau Volksfest (as a typical example) from 2007 so you know what to expect. Also, there are a couple pictures of the spring festival with its opening weekend flea market (it’s only on the first Saturday, sorry) on the Theresienwiese (Oktoberfest grounds) here.

Since spring is here, it’s time to put on the Lederhosen and head down to a massive beer tent to drink beer and eat pork knuckle with the locals. There are lots of options, just pick one of the many festivals and have fun. I’ll see you there.

-Mike Richardson, The Professional Tourist

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  1. Michael Murphy says:

    There are plenty of Oktoberfest’s that are celebrated right here in the good old USA. Chippewa Falls, Wi has one in mid Sep. You can get a beer and there is at least 4 different kinds of music going on at all times. See you there.

  2. jabritza says:

    Oktoberfest volksfest Calella Costa Brava Spain gets my vote as the best fest ever because you get to sit on the beach and play golf (pitch putt in our case)in the day and during weeknights its almost like a private party.3 orchestras of 26 to 40 strong everynight, quite a few youth orchestras as well. All the locals turn out for a right romp weekends.

    Booked hotel through, 6 nights HB 5.50 pounds a night each, flights 26 quid round trip Ryan Air.

    Fest starts last week of September or so for 3 weeks in an enormous Marquee the size of a football pitch on the beach.

    And great local bread with jammon serrano to munch.


  3. bonnie says:

    Amsterdam is where you want to go. Party day and night. Then, if your interested in seeing some amazing sights, hop the euro train and go. you can get a 30 day pass before you go. oktoberfest is about beer and pretzels and polka music. not unusual to start drinking for breakfast. after amsterdam, you’ll find it boring. watch out for pick-pockets. don’t keep all your money in your wallet and keep passports in safe place.

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