Oktoberfest in Munich Germany:
2020 Dates: September 19th-October 4th.
Average Attendance: Over 6 million people a year
Who Goes: 70% Bavaria; 15% rest of Germany; and 15% other countries.
Fun Scale: 10 out of 10
Springing out of the celebration from a royal wedding in 1810, Oktoberfest has grown to become the World’s largest festival. Every year over 6 million people get together at the “Wiesn” to dress in traditional Bavarian clothing, play state fair type games, ride roller coasters, dance to oompah music, eat great food, sing with the bands, and of course drink tons of booze. It’s an inviting celebration of life that is so much fun we have planned entire vacations around being able to make it here.
Below is our complete Oktoberfest guide including important event dates and parade schedules. If Oktoberfest in Munich isn’t on your bucket list already, add it right now!
2020 Oktoberfest Event Schedule:
- January & February:
Ideally this is when you will want to book your hotel as once it hits March a large portion of the rooms will already be booked and the remaining ones will start to be 2-3 times more expensive than normal. You will also need to look at table reservations (more info) as evenings & weekend slots sell out fast with reservation windows opening in January & February. Some tents like the Tradition Tent (off year in 2020) have later time.
An army of workers start the annual re-building of the huge tents and amusement rides for Oktoberfest in Theresienwiese.
- September 19th (Saturday):
At 9am the tent doors open but you’ll need to be in line 4 hours early to get if you don’t have a table reservation since the first day is so busy. Expect no bathroom while you wait and to be smashed through the doors before quickly scrambling to find an unreserved table. We suggest having some snacks with if you plan on getting in line early. The reserved tables start being seated around 11am even though the beer doesn’t start until Noon. The gap from 9am-Noon is a good time to order food in your tent.
At 10am the Landlords & Breweries Parade is led from the edge of Old Town Munich to the Oktoberfest grounds by the Münchner Kindl mascot which is the symbol of Munich. This 45-minute long parade of 1,000 people plus beer wagons dates back to 1887 (Click For Parade Route Map).
At Noon the Mayor taps the first keg in the Schottenhamel Tent and shouts “O’zapft is!” (It’s tapped!), officially opening Oktoberfest. A 12-gun salute at Noon lets everyone know that the festivities have begun.
- September 20th (Sunday):
Doors open at 9am again but you only need to be there 2-3 hours early instead of 4 without a reservation.
Also starting at 9am, the Riflemen and Costume (Tracht) Parade begins to snake through Old Town Munich to the Oktoberfest like it has since 1835. This 2-hour long parade is much larger than Saturday’s with over 9,000 people including musicians plus oxen and horse-drawn wagons. Sunday’s parade is also much longer as the route takes 2 hours before reaching the Oktoberfest grounds at 11am. (Click For Parade Route Map | Parades’ Website).
- September 24th (Thursday):
At 10am there is a religious service at the Oktoberfest grounds which has happened since 1957. There are even baptisms and confirmations after the service.
- September 27th (Sunday):
At 11am there is an outdoor Brass band concert in front of the Lady of Bavaria Statue. Bands representing all the major tents come to perform with over 300 musicians to ask the Heavens for good weather. This is the easiest of the weekend days to get into a tent without a reservation although you will still need to arrive early.
- October 1st (Thursday):
National holiday called the German Day of Unity.
- October 4th (Sunday):
At Noon there is a 12 Gun Salute at the Bavaria Statue marking the last day of Oktoberfest. At the end of the night for closing, sparklers are lit by everyone inside the main tents in a beautiful display as “Sierra Madre” plays.