I’m searching for an outfit for Oktoberfest this coming September, and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. Should I even dress up? I don’t want to offend anyone. If it is cool to wear an outfit, where do you recommend I get one? Is it stupid for me to get one of those cheap Halloween ones? All my friends are going to dress up; I wanted to at least attempt to get an outfit, but legit lederhosen cost more than I want to spend. Any help would be appreciated. Also, can you recommend any tents or easier ways to get into tents?
Oktoberfest without dressing up is like a Halloween party without a costume: it’s still a lot of fun, but the right outfit can make it even better. I’d say at least half of Oktoberfest attendees show up in tracht (dirdls or lederhosen) these days, locals and foreigners alike. I’d definitely encourage you to dress up if you can find a way to do it without cutting into your beer budget (and Oktoberfest beer ain’t cheap). So what are your options?
- Spring for real lederhosen, which will probably run you over €100 (more with shirt and socks). That’s definitely a lot to spend if you’re only planning to attend Oktoberfest once, but on the other hand, you’ll have a kick-ass Halloween costume for the rest of your life. You could try your luck on ebay, or pick some up in Munich. There are tracht shops all over the city center (including about a million branches of Wies’n Tracht und Mehr, which at the very least keeps me entertained with its ad campaigns).
- Go for fake lederhosen, such as those made of plastic or the Bruno variety. I really, really don’t recommend this route. Look at the guys in the second photo down on this post. You don’t want to look like that.
- Skip the lederhosen all together and go for a different look. Get a hat or an authentic checked tracht shirt for around €20 and wear it with jeans. Or a lederhosen t-shirt – cheesy, yes, but still much, much better than actual fake lederhosen.
- Wear a kilt. They have nothing to do with Oktoberfest, but our Scottish friends think it’s a great idea.
Women have it easier: an Oktoberfest-ready dirndl (such as these) can be picked up on ebay for $50 or less (but please stay away from the mini-dress catastrophes on Amazon), and they look just fine. There are also some good deals to be found these days in the many tracht stores along Tal, in the center of Munich.
As for which tents I recommend, it depends on what you’re looking for. All the big tents have more in common than they do differences – big beers, long benches, cheesy music, buxom waitresses – but they all have slightly different personalities. I suggest showing up early on a weekday (when you can still wander into all of the tents) and checking out several of them. The Hacker tent, Ochsenbraterei, and Schützen Festzelt are all solid choices. The Hofbräu tent has a frat party vibe, and seems to have the highest foreigners-to-Germans ratio. The Weinzelt has wine and fancy food; the Käfer tent has really fancy food and low ceilings. The Hippodrom is where the celebrities hang out, perhaps because they are attracted to colorful streamers.
As far as getting into tents, my main advice is this: go early, and find yourself an unreserved table to park at for the day. On weekends you have to arrive when the tents open if you want a chance of getting a table for the day (although sometimes the tents open back up in the late evening). On weekdays you can usually walk in and out of tents freely until late afternoon, when they all fill up. Since this year is the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest, it will probably be more crowded than in years past. You also might want to check out my advice for first-time Oktoberfest visitors.
Hey readers: anyone have any great tips on where to get decent-looking lederhosen on the cheap? Please share!