Oct 3, 2016

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That was the Oktoberfest 2016

That was the Oktoberfest 2016

The Munich Oktoberfest 2016 was, in many respects, an odd one. (Yes, it’s already finished. Yes, it’s only just turned Oktober. Read why here!) In the weeks leading up to the opening, there was so much heated talk about security that it became easy to forget that the dangers of holding such a gigantic mass event in the middle of a major city have often been the subject of concern in previous years. Then there was the fact that the beloved vintage “Oide Wiesn” had to make way for the Zentrallandwirtschaftsfest, an agricultural expo which takes places every four years (and makes most Munich residents yawn as much as it does us…). And, to add insult to injury, the weather on the first weekend was downright awful.


The “Bavarian Heaven” was pretty cloudy in the first days of the Oktoberfest 2016

Even the change for the better in meteorological terms – it was fantastically sunny from midway through the first week right through to the last weekend – this mix of circumstances had a very pleasant side-effect: less people came. Even the extra day of celebrations due to the German national holiday falling today was not enough to push visitor numbers over 5.6 million (2015: 5.9m). In the last comparable year with the agricultural show, 2012, over 6.4 people came, and in recent “full Wiesn” years, it wasn’t unusual for approaching 7 million visits to be counted. What all of this meant, however, was that most tents remained open to people without reservations – and that there were plenty of seat reservations going around for those of us lucky enough to know people in Munich. We’ve never spent as many evenings sat down inside tents as we did this year; never had as much luck getting good beer garden tables even on sunny days. The Theresienwiese was never empty, but never really crowded either.


Even on sunny afternoons, it was easy enough to make your way around the Wiesn.

The tent landlords had few grounds to complain, however, as beer sales, while declining on recent years, did not drop as much as visitor numbers (2016: roughly 6.4m l., 2015: 7.5m l., 2012: 7.4m l.). This confirms what we’ve thought for years, which is that there is a lot of “pent-up demand”: i.e. we’ve often wanted to get a beer and been unable to get into a tent or been in beer gardens with waitstaff who’ve got their hands full. So let’s put it this way: Oktoberfest 2016, you were very good to us. We’d be happy to repeat the experience!

Bavarian fashion trends at the Oktoberfest 2016

Haarkranz-Blumenkranz-Reischl-26001-rose-AAs far as lederhosen and dirndls go, 2016 was a good year. Of course there the usual cheap-and-nasties – embarrassingly often perpetrated by us Brits, Americans, Australians and other English-speakers – but the general standard has risen, even among us non-natives. We ran into countless non-Bavarians in genuine lederhosen and fashionable dirndls who were indistinguishable from  the mass of visitors (well, at least, until they opened their mouths). It was good to see them getting respect and admiration (and good tables when they asked if they could join a group already sat down…).

Trachtenhemd-Pfoad-Stehkragen-Obis-DIOMO-blau-natu56be02832f71dAs we noted earlier in the year, the trends for ladies this year were reserved colours and pastel tones with lots of vintage detail and floral patterns. Another big thing we’d seen coming was hair decoration. Then there were the Bavarian chucks: practical, feminine-looking alternatives to the precarious high-heeled pumps and flimsy ballerinas which girls have been forced to choose between thus far. For the boys, it was about rustic, country-style Bavarian costume shirts, worn along with lederhosen minus the braces. The thing with the over-shoulder H-suspenders is an important detail, as they even annoy born Münchners and are being increasingly removed and replaced with wide suede belts featuring big, chunky buckles! In other news, Bavarian calf-warmers (Loferl) are still big. Meanwhile, in lederhosen terms, things were – predictably – much as they ever were. These things can be worn for decades, so trends don’t show up here so much.

Oktoberfest funnies

And now to opur favourite bit of the summing-up proceedings: the odd things turned in at lost property. This year’s wierdest lost items were, if you ask us, the following: two signed copies of a novel called “Blondes? Never again!” (our title translation),  party horns, and a frisbee. The best was a doctor’s note for sick leave for – oddly enough – the whole length of the Oktoberfest. And *apparently*, the most popular song in the tents this year was a song called “Hulapalu” by one Andreas Gabalier. But we’d swear blind we heard Robbie Williams’ Angels at least twice as much.

And before we start bellowing at that particular piece of pop perjury again, we’ll get on the last train home…


“Servus Theresienwiese, pfiti…”


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