Guide to Munich's Oktoberfest

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Oktoberfest is by far the largest beer festival in the world, attracting more than 7 million visitors to Munich every year to enjoy the liquid gold. The 16-day event's temporary sparkling city of 34 vast beer tents, fairground attractions, music and specially brewed beer served in Masskrüge (one-liter) mugs certainly makes for a memorable experience.

The Beer
Thanks to the 16th-century Bavarian Beer Purity Law still in place today, Oktoberfest guests are guaranteed the highest quality Bavarian brews at the event. All beer served is from one of Munich's Big Six breweries: Augustiner, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten, Hofbräu and Hacker-Pschorr. About 6.9 million liters of beer are consumed over the course of the festival (that's enough to fill 43,000 bathtubs), and it should be noted that Oktoberfest beer has a higher alcohol content than other varieties. In addition the beer, traditional Bavarian food is also served, including Hendl, salt-roasted chicken, and Dampfnudl, sweet dumplings served with vanilla sauce. Also, the drinking age in Germany? 16.

The Atmosphere
Oktoberfest is known as one giant, joyous party, with Bavarian Blasmusik (brass band music) played in every tent, each of which has its own personality. The 10,000-person Hofbräu-Festzelt tent is an especially festive area, where it's possible meet travelers from all around the world in addition to plenty of Germans—85% of attendees arrive at Oktoberfest from Bavaria and other parts of Germany. Travelers can enjoy what locals call Gemütlichkeit—a friendliness, comfortable coziness and relaxed appreciation for the old-fashioned good things in life. In addition to participating in the colorful Bavarian triathlon of eating, drinking and singing, guests can also wander the 103-acre grounds and take a ride on the carousel or see the Wiesn faigrounds from the top of the Ferris wheel.

How to Attend
Given the event's enormous popularity, it's best to book tickets in advance and reserve a table in one of the major tents. Tickets can be combined with a tour of the Oktoberfest grounds, a Segway tour around Munich or a historical beer festival walking tour. It's even possible for those traveling in Austria to book an Oktoberfest experience that begins with transport from Salzburg to Munich.
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