Who would have thought that Oktoberfest would be such great fun with kids?! Having now been twice (once when C was 16 months and again when she was 3) I couldn’t recommend it more for a different holiday that also gives you a unique but accessible cultural experience. Maybe next time we go we’ll dress up in traditional costume too (though it’s easy to tell the ‘real deal’ dirndls and lederhosen as they are beautiful investment pieces).
Top tip – try to go on one of the Family Days (Tuesday’s) for a more relaxed experience with reduced price food and rides. And definitely take your stroller if you have to consider little legs – the grounds are huge and until 6pm each day strollers are permitted. There are strict restrictions on bags/backpacks allowed into Oktoberfest but we had no issues bringing a small bag with extra snacks, wipes etc.
Oktoberfest (or Wiesn) runs each year in Munich, from mid/late September to the first Sunday in October. It is an immense undertaking – more than six million people from around the world attend each year. Having been held since 1810, it is an important part of Bavarian culture.
Each year vast quantities of Oktoberfest Beer (sold only in 1 liter form) are consumed; around 8 million litres. When you’ve had your fill of beer and food – mostly traditional, and be sure to try the roast chicken and a pretzel in any of the tents – take a stroll around the Wiesn area and go on some of the amusement rides, try your hand at the fairground games, and just absorb the atmosphere.
We enjoyed sitting in the various Festzelts, looking at the elaborate decorations and listening to traditional music – unless it’s very busy the tents are stroller-accessible and child-friendly too. If it gets busy, try sitting in the outdoor areas of the big tents; often less frenetic and just not as loud as the tents themselves. Be sure to download the official Oktoberfest app, as this gives you real time updates on tent capacity and events, and answers common FAQs.
A relatively new addition to the Wiesn experience is the ‘Oide Wiesn’, intended to be a one off wander down memory lane for the 200th anniversary celebrations of Oktoberfest. It was so popular that it’s come back ever since (though every four years it takes a break so that the Bavarian Country Festival can use that area of the grounds). Oide Wiesn costs a few euros to enter, but gives you access to the historical rides and beer tents. There is also a small museum, kids activities, a cultural program, and music. Despite its popularity it is generally quieter than the rest of the Oktoberfest area and is a nice break from the crowds.
We stayed at the Le Meridien, a 10 minute walk from Oktoberfest and directly across from Munich Central Station – very convenient and perfectly functional. There are plenty of amenities in the station, and supermarkets and department stores nearby for all your travel needs.