15 tips for a fun, safe Oktoberfest

Courtesy of the U.S. Consulate General Munich

Are you planning to go to this year’s Oktoberfest, which takes place between Sept. 17 and Oct. 3? Whether it’s your first time or you’re returning to the largest and most famous Volksfest in the world, the following is a list of 15 tips to keep in mind to ensure your fun time doesn’t come to a screeching halt:

  1. Wearing Tracht (traditional Bavarian dress) at Oktoberfest is encouraged – and fun – but not required. Note: Many Dirndls have a hidden pocket, which is a great place to keep money, ID and emergency contact information.
  1. Munich may be one of the safest cities in the world, but where there are crowds, there are pickpockets, and Oktoberfest brings out the pros. Keep a close eye on your belongings, especially on mass transit.
  1. Do not bring luggage, packs or large purses to Oktoberfest. They won’t be allowed inside the Oktoberfest grounds due to security precautions. The rules are similar to U.S. professional sports stadium security rules. Expect to be searched at the outer perimeter.
  1. Know how to get back to your lodging. Public transportation runs all night, but it won’t be useful if you don’t know which U-Bahn or S-Bahn stop to use, or the name or address of your hotel. Keep that information on your person.
  1. Police and Red Cross are located at the “Servicezentrum (Service Center) next to the large Bavaria statue.
  1. There are emergency phones located on the light poles of the Oktoberfest grounds. Pick one up; there will be a police officer on the other end.
  1. Oktoberfest beer is stronger than you think, and especially plentiful when you drink it from a “Maβ” (the liter glass). One traditional Maβ of Oktoberfest beer has the same alcohol content as four 12-ounce American beers.
  1. In the beer tents, you are allowed to stand on the benches and sing all you want. Join in the singing! However, dancing on the tables is not allowed.
  1. Do not smoke inside the tents. If you must smoke, each tent has an outside smoking area.
  1. Do not take the liter glasses from the Oktoberfest tents! There is a large fine for doing so. If you want a souvenir, buy a souvenir mug at one of the stands. Yes, the police can tell the difference.
  1. Avoid disputes with other Oktoberfest attendees. If you get into a fight, you will be arrested. Hitting someone with a beer mug is an “assault with a deadly weapon,” and usually results in prison time.
  1. Do not sleep in the park outside the Oktoberfest Thieves and pickpockets are always on the lookout for vulnerable “Bierleichen” (beer corpses).
  1. The police may ask for your ID at any time. Some police are not dressed in uniform, but in plain clothes. Make sure to always have a copy of your passport with you. You may also ask to see police IDs, which are laminated cards; not badges.
  1. When talking to the police, you can always request an English-speaking police officer; however, expect to be escorted to where that English-speaking police officer is located – usually the police station.
  1. Theresienwiese has a Lost and Found office located at the Servicezentrum.  Anything lost in the beer tents (wallets, passports, keys, cellphones, purses) will be turned in to that office, but expect a delay between loss and your item showing up for claim.

Be sure to also check out our Oktoberfest security and safety how-to guide, which includes advice about what you can do if you run into bad luck or you experience an emergency: Keeping safe, secure at Oktoberfest 2016 – and what to do if things go wrong.

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