The mayor has said the magic words “O’ zapft is!”, the festival has begun, the beer is flowing! Oktoberfest, definitively the world’s greatest/largest/awesomest/craziest beer carnival. This one has made it to a lot of bucket lists and why not? There are some very popular traditions associated with Oktoberfest, some are however, not so popular. We’re bringing you a healthy dose of all the relevant stuff, so you can bookmark this page for whenever you eventually make it to the grandest beer gala on the planet!

1. Munich’s beer Monopoly

All beer served at the official Oktoberfest tents must be brewed in Munich. The fest is, more than anything, a celebration of Bavarian traditions. Munich, as the proud host city and heartland of Bavarian culture, gives its six breweries - Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu monopoly over the fest. All Oktoberfest beer is brewed within city limits.

2. Oktoberfest beer abides by ‘Purity Law’, the oldest food regulation in the world

And still in practice today! Brought into effect by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in the year 1516, the Reinheitsgebot OR ‘Purity Law’ controls beer quality standards, and stipulates rules such as the recipe can only include barley, malt, yeast and hops. The brews are required to be fermented and lagered for more than 30 days with up to 6% alcohol. The Germans sure take their beer very seriously!

3. Do or Die: 1 Liter or Nothing

That’s 12!

The beer is only served in 1 liter mugs filled to the brim. Nothings less, pints do not exist in these parts of the world, apparently! Waiters and waitresses carrying up to 10 or more filled mugs is not an uncommon sight here.

4. The Bow Indication

The norm is to dress in traditional Bavarian outfits, the women in their Dirndl dress and aprons, the men with their hosens and hats. Now the women wrap their aprons tied with a bow in front, the position of the bow being of paramount importance here. A bow on the left means ‘single & ready to mingle’, on the right indicates ‘already taken’ and right at the center is a sign of viginity.

Sadly, no such decoding process is applicable to the charming men.

5. Cholera & War: the only 2 things that can stop the ‘beer pouring’

In its history of more than 200 years, the Oktoberfest has been cancelled 24 times, for reasons of cholera or war. We can’t hold that against them now, cholera and war are not times of celebration.

6. “O’ zapft is!”: the Magic Words

It’s tapped!

They literally translate to “It’s tapped!” The festival can only start after the Mayor of Munich has spoken the magic words and offered the first mug to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria.

7. A ‘Lost & Found Children’ booth

Yes, children are allowed to a part of the festivities, it is a family friendly festival after all. And apparently, it’s common practice to lose your children at Oktoberfest. There is a dedicated lost & found children’s office on the premises and they keep quite busy.

8. Wine is the only other alcohol allowed on the premises

There is a Weinzelt (Wine Tent) that serves fifteen different types of wine. All the wine is obviously German, mostly from the Rhine Valley. Bavaria has only one official wine region, Franconia. You might find a vodka or gin too, and only in the Weinzelt.

9. The first Oktoberfest was a wedding party

Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 2021 and threw one hell of a wedding party for the whole of Bavaria. Till today, the fest is locally called Wiesn, after the colloquial name of the fairgrounds, Theresienwiese or ‘Theresa’s Meadow’. The first parade also took place in 1850; although it became a fest regular only in 1950.

10. Goat hair is a gauge of wealth

Men originally wore traditional Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte) with a tuft of goat hair on them. Goat hair was apparently quite expensive back in the day and therefore the bigger the tuft, the wealthier one was. These days, you can be as wealthy as you please considering the hair is now mostly synthetic.

11. Bierleichen: people who pass out after drinking too much beer

How to identify Beer Corpses: Crash Course coming up!

If you drink too much beer (you have to drink too much beer at Oktoberfest) and pass out, you shall be referred to as ‘Bierleichen’, which translates to ‘Beer Corpses’. Beer Corpses are a very common sight, they may move and make sounds but nothing really to be afraid of here!

12. Largest Volksfest in the world

Germany’s Oktoberfest is internationally accepted as the largest ‘People’s Fair’ in the world.

13. Every Tuesday is Family Day

Between noon and 6 pm, specials discounts are offered on the rides and games. The one rule: children under six years of age should leave the beer tents by 8 pm. No we’re not kidding!

There it is! Do you know more about the Oktoberfest than we do, tell us in the comments section below!


As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

Shivangi – who has written posts on WAH Blog.