Oktoberfest has been taking place in Munich since 1810, and every year it attracts a whopping 6 million visitors and gives beer-lovers from Bavaria the chance to raise a glass with visitors from all around the world. Some will travel from closer to home, like Italy, Ireland, Austria, France, the UK and Switzerland, while others will venture from as far as Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand. But wherever they’ve travelled from, everyone will help reinforce Octoberfest’s position as the largest folk festival in the world!
Affectionately termed the “Meadows” by the locals, the Theresienwiese is where people of all ages—students, famers, families, academics, factory workers and city-slickers—will meet, eat, drink and celebrate their culture and their love of the “liquid gold”.
The sheer numbers behind Oktoberfest are staggering. Every year, over half a million (510,0000) roast chickens and nearly 60,000 pigs-trotters and various other delicacies are eaten inside and outside the beer tents and these are washed down with close to 7.5 million litres of beer. Despite the scale of the operation, waiters and waitresses work the aisles with smiles, carrying seemingly impossibly heavy loads of food and drink. Though the secret to their smiles could be the music that’s on offer throughout the festival which, like the beer and staff, is the stuff of legends. Live bands play in the 14 beer tents and help create a vibrant and friendly atmosphere.
So it comes as no surprise when every year in mid-September the Meadows turn into a parallel universe, existing in a haze of beer, sausages and candy floss, totally separate from the day to day life of the city.
Truth be told, our fantastic tour-guide, Werner, wasn’t actually born and bred in Bavaria; but all the same, Oktoberfest is a fixture in his—and most Munich residents’—social calendar which is sort of like Christmas and New Year combined.
After stints in Cologne, Sydney and London, Werner now calls Munich – the “Monaco of Bavaria” – his new home. He loves architecture and is a dealer of pieces from the ‘Vitra’ design collection but every year he loves to don his traditional outfit, Janker cardigan and brogues before sinking a couple of Octoberfest beers with his friends.
For the first stop on our mini tour of Munich, Werner treats us to a hearty breakfast of Weißwurst (white sausage). It’s here that we learn that Wener’s heart belongs to interior design and that Munich is rich with design gems.Werner: “I love furniture more than anything. I was an apprentice carpenter and I purchased my first piece of designer furniture when I was just 17. It was a Tizio lamp by Richard Sapper.”
We chat casually about Dries van Noten suits, about his all-time favourite city, Sydney, but we keep coming back to the subject of architecture and interiors.
Every year Werner loves to put up Oktoberfest visitors from all over the world in his beautifully decorated apartment.
Werner: “My apartment’s in the Wagner quarter and it’s full of Eames originals and other small pieces of memorabilia. I love sharing my knowledge on the local area and on how to put together the perfect visit to Munich. I want to help people see that, even during the Oktoberfest season, the Bavarian capital has so much more to offer than brass bands and ‘Brotzeitbrettl’ (traditional plate with bread, cheese and cold cuts).”
“It’s not unheard of that trying to get into one of the best tents at the Oktoberfest, the Wine Tent, (assuming you’ve already had enough beer, that is) is doomed to fail. It gets so packed that it’s often ‘closed due to overcrowding’ and the Meadows closes down at 10:30 every night. So if you’ve had enough of the bands and brogues scene and are looking for the perfect bar to finish off a great day, the place to go is ‘Die Registratur‘” in Müllerstraße. Stylish interior, pleasant people and great drinks. It’s one of my favourites, as is the ‘Regi Fashioned’, a classy whisky-based drink made with Auchentoshan Single Malt, Frangelico, dark chocolate and sugar, and they stir it for so long that you get dizzy just watching.”“For breakfast, I like to go to ‘Aroma Kaffeebar’ in the Glockenbach quarter. It’s on my way to the Meadows and Jürgen, the owner, has lived in California for many years. That’s the reason why, inanition to the tasty sandwiches and great cakes, the place is full of cool bits and pieces and some pretty off-the-wall knick-knacks. There’s glow in the dark key chains, glitter lollipops, local Munich gin, beard oil for hipsters, incense and even coffee beans roasted in Berlin.”
“I really appreciate good drinks. If I’m looking for something really special, I’ll go to a Späti (small late night shop, selling drinks and small food items) called ‘Szenedrinks’ on Gärtnerplatz. The place is run by Helmut and Franz, something tells me they are huge Cher fans because every time I’m there they’re showing an old Cher concert from the 80’s on the TV. They have a great selection of drinks including around 100 different kinds of gin and craft beers as well. That’s where I discovered the best gin made in Germany; it’s called ‘Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin’ and it was awarded the World Spirits Gold Medal for 2015.”
“Munich is full of old Bavarian traditions and the best place to go for a taste of this is up into the Isartor town gate. The ‘Turmstüberl’ is an antique market, restaurant and cafe rolled into one. Hearty local dishes combined with kitsch and art create a pretty strange mix. I love all the crazy details that it’s been decorated with. There’s a warning sign on the door: “Women’s club. Beware, the landlady may bite” which makes me laugh.”
“There are also some places that I just can’t get enough of. If you’ve spent the weekend knocking back beers at the Oktoberfest and you need to clear your head, a trip to the Olympiapark is just what the doctor ordered. It’s right in the middle of a picturesque park landscape and there’s the Olympic Tower that soars 290 metres into the sky. I love it’s futuristic 70’s architecture. I used to come here when I was a kid and I just loved the view from the top. From the restaurant you can see the entire city. It really is one of a kind!”