If you haven’t heard of Oktoberfest before, chances are you’ve been living under a rock for the entire duration of your adult life. And even if the word Oktoberfest means nothing to you, you are probably already familiar with this famous German beer festival. This incredible and almost unbelievable event takes place for two weeks every year in Munich, from September 22nd to October 7th. And what a spectacle it is!
Oktoberfest in numbers
An estimated 7,200,000 guests visit Theresienwiese Park over the course of two weeks to celebrate beer, Bavarian traditions and German cuisine. Think that sounds a bit daunting? Well, consider this: the entire Oktoberfest site is spread over 85 acres of land. That’s roughly 60 full size football pitches, friends. You’ll find huge beer halls, stands selling regional delicacies and stages with traditional Bavarian and schlager music performances spread across that vast space. But let’s break it down a little bit more then, shall we?
85 acres of land
34 giant tents
7,000,000 litres of beer
75,000 pork shins
44,000kg of fish
…and a partridge in a pear tree!
But where did Oktoberfest come from?
It all kicked off way back when on October 12, 1810, when the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese. The festivities lasted five days, with a horse race taking place on the original Oktoberfest. Year after year the anniversary celebrations became more and more elaborate. And before the people of Bavaria knew it, Oktoberfest had turned into quite the party – complete with amusements, wheelbarrow races, goose chases and the like. When beer was finally permitted on the fairground, local breweries went about setting up makeshift beer stalls. Until 1896, when they were replaced by the beer halls we know and love today.
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Zelt 1️⃣ in unserer Vorstellungsreihe – Das #Hackerfestzelt: Ein himmlisches Gefühl verleiht nicht nur das Festbier. Das Zelt ist aufwändig als "Himmel der Bayern" gestaltet. Das "Hacker" ist meist als eines der ersten Zelte dicht – und das bleibt dann für gewöhnlich auch so 🤗 // 📸: @exithamster #oktoberfestapp
And, if it’s Oktoberfest, why does it start in September?!
After a few years, it was agreed to move the festival to September to take full advantage of the warmer and drier weather. The last day of the beer and culture festival is usually the first Sunday of October but sometimes this changes depending what day of the week German Unity Day (October 3rd) falls on.
Nowadays, Oktoberfest is packed with revellers who come from all across the globe to get a slice of “authentic” Bavarian culture. Donning their very best lederhosen and dirndls (traditional dresses or shorts and shirts – plaits and hats are optional), Oktoberfest goers wake up at the crack of dawn to queue and stake claim on a table that’s close enough to the bar and the bathrooms. A litre of beer and a bratwurst in bread – breakfast of champions, no?! With a long day of drinking ahead, you’d best be lining your stomach!
Speaking of food, Oktoberfest nosh looks a little bit like the following:
classic Bavarian white pork sausage, perfect when accompanied by mustard
the typical German bread, also common in Austria and Tyrol
pork knuckle, roasted or boiled (very common throughout Germany)
creamy pasta noodles generally served with melted cheese (think mac & cheese without the crispy top layer)
And for dessert: pastries, delicious pancakes and stollen
Perfect fuel for long days spent in the beer halls clinking your traditional steins with strangers’ ones and sloshing beer all over the place, don’t you think?
So, now that we’ve established that Oktoberfest is a wild time indeed, what are the chances that you’re heading to Munich this year? If so, viel Spaß (have fun!). But fret not if the bank account won’t stretch to the boozy Eurotrip this year… Because why not look a little bit closer to home for some comfort food and litres of beer? Take a gander below, at some of the best German and European restaurants where you can celebrate your very own Oktoberfest London edition without even having to hop in an airplane.
Celebrate Oktoberfest in London
1. Herman ze German
As the name might suggest, Herman ze German is as German as they come. So German in fact that the sausages served up at Herman ze German are made by a butcher called Fritz who lives in the Black Forest in Germany. These German spots were set up when Azadeh and Florian became fed up with the lack of good German sausages in London and the UK. And who could blame them? Take your pick from currywurst and fries covered in homemade curry ketchup; chilli wurst; bockwurst (smokey pork) and bratwurst (pork and veal) or schnitzel at this popular spot. Then wash it all down with a quality German pilsner or two. Believe us when we say that their wurst is ze best!
Address: Herman ze German Fitzrovia, 43 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1RS.
Open: Monday – Thursday 11.30am – 11.30pm, Friday & Saturday 11am – 12am, Sunday 8am – 10.30pm.
Address: Herman ze German Soho, 33 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JU.
Open: Monday – Thursday 7am – 11.30pm, Friday 7am – 12am, Saturday 10am – 12am, Sunday 8am – 10.30pm.
Stein’s is the real deal when it comes to Oktoberfest, because the menu is bursting with Bavarian specialties that you’d struggle to find anywhere else in London. This modern and chic German restaurant has three outlets for you to check out – Kensington, Kingston and Richmond. Come for the schnitzel served with authentic Bavarian potato salad, stay for the 12 different kinds of beer served in steins. And, if you’re looking for some beer garden fun, all three spots have excellent covered outdoor areas.
Address: Stein’s Richmond, Petersham Rd, Richmond ,TW10 6UX.
Open: Monday & Tuesday 5.30pm – 10pm, Wednesday & Sunday 12pm to 10pm, Thursday – Saturday 12pm – 12am.
Address: Stein’s Kensington, 51 Princes Gate Exhibition Road, Kensington, SW7 2PH.
Open: Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm.
Address: Stein’s Richmond, Petersham Road, Richmond, TW10 6UX.
Open: Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 6pm.
3. The Tiroler Hut
Ok so technicallyyy The Tiroler Hut is an Austrian spot, but they do a mean jägerschnitzel mit spätzle (pork fillet with mushroom sauce and creamy pasta noodles) and they serve different kinds of German beers on tap, so we’ll allow it. You’ll find authentic decor here that feels like you’re at some ski resort in the Alps, and servers decked out in traditional grab who randomly burst into song or yodeling. What fun! And sure, Munich is only a 90 minute drive from Salzburg so you can live your best Oktoberfest life at The Tiroler Hut!
Address: The Tiroler Hut, 27 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, W24UA.
Open: Tuesday – Saturday 6.30pm – 1am, Sunday 6.30pm – 12am.