5 things you should know before going to Oktoberfest

5 things you should know before going to Oktoberfest

Bavarian timing

The first Oktoberfest, in 1810, actually was held in October. Today, it's still known as Oktoberfest, but opens each year in September. The reason for that is Bavaria's bad weather. It's even been known to snow in October — which would be a disaster for the festival. The world-famous beer celebration was moved up to September in 1904.

5 things you should know before going to Oktoberfest

Bavarian vocabulary

To bridge the language barrier, it's a good idea to learn a few words in Bavarian dialect before going to Oktoberfest. "Servus" is a simple greeting. More difficult is "hock di her da," which you can say to offer someone else a spot at the table. If you have a communication block, try "host mi" for "do you understand?" And goodbye is "pfiat di," which is short for "may God watch over you."

5 things you should know before going to Oktoberfest

Beer tent etiquette

Dancing on the benches is not only tolerated — it's encouraged. But you shouldn't stand on the tables or take your clothes off. Another taboo is stealing beer mugs. Beware, thieves will be prosecuted. Nevertheless, they are still a beloved souvenir among many visitors. Each year, tens of thousands of beer mugs disappear. The really big half-liter mugs are particularly popular.

5 things you should know before going to Oktoberfest

Bavarian dress code

You can show up in jeans and a t-shirt or in a traditional Bavarian outfit; just make sure your style is consistent. If you wear a dirndl, though, watch out: a bow on the left means you're single and a bow on the right means you're not. But if the bow is in the middle, you out yourself as a virgin. Only widows and servers wear their bows in the back.

5 things you should know before going to Oktoberfest

Wiesn beer

Not only does it contain more alcohol than your average beer, it tastes a bit milder and less bitter. That makes the beverage of choice at Oktoberfest — known as Wiesn beer — particularly dangerous! Some 7.5 million liters were drunk at last year's festival. This year, the stuff is being sold at record speed — even though the price has risen to €11.40 ($13.40) per liter.

From dress codes to beer types and even a unique language, there are a few rules to observe at the Wiesn. We explain why the Oktoberfest starts in September and why you should exercise caution when drinking the beer.

The US Embassy recently published useful tips for visitors to Oktoberfest. In addition to security information and pointers for dancing in the beer tents (on the benches, ok; on the tables, no way), they cautioned revelers to beware of the Oktoberfest beer, which "is stronger than you think!"

One liter of beer is like 10 shots of vodka

The "Wiesn" beer has an average alcohol content of six percent — at least one percent more than standard beer. That means a liter of the beverage contains around 60 milliliters (about two ounces) of alcohol, or the equivalent of four American beers, warned the embassy.

Consuming a liter of beer is therefore similar to drinking 10 shots of vodka.

Even experienced Oktoberfest visitors underestimate the power of a one-liter stein, known as "Mass" — the size of the portions served at the Wiesn.

High Five | 29.07.2016

This year, the first case of alcohol poisoning happened just 30 minutes after the first keg had been tapped. 

Eat, drink and avoid pickpockets

Those who overdo it often land at the so-called "puke hill" behind the beer tents — which, during the rest of the year, is actually a beautiful little park.

This hill is also mentioned in the embassy's recommendation sheet, which tells visitors not to sleep in the park, since pickpockets often prey on "beer corpses."

What else do you need to know before heading to Munich for Oktoberfest? Click through the gallery above to find out.