Oktoberfest 2023 is well and truly underway. But fear not bratwurst lovers. You don’t have to book a flight to Bavaria to get in on the stein-sloshing, thigh-slapping, sausage-eating madness. The true spirit of Oktoberfest lies in the commemoration of community, which means it can be celebrated anytime, anywhere, with anyone. So don your dirndl, swing your stein and transform your backyard into a bustling biergarten, with these simple steps to hosting an oomptastic Oktoberfest…
1) Look the Part
Get into character and go the whole hog by sporting a Germanic getup. Guys should posen in their lederhosen, which can be accessorised with a feathered hat, calf-length socks and clogs for added flair. Just make sure your suspenders are safely secured to avoid flashing your nan. Ladies, it’s time to braid those locks into a Heidi-esque hairstyle and don your dirndl. The more authentic styles have longer skirts, but daring damsels can get their stocking clad legs out in a mini. The Dirndlblusen (blouse worn underneath) comes with varying levels of, ahem, cleavage exposure, but whatever you choose, it’s essential you tie your apron knot appropriately. According to tradition, a bow on the right-side signals you’re taken. If you’re looking for a ‘Gspusi’ (Bavarian dialect for a fling), then tie it on the left, as this indicates you’re single and ready to mingle. Widows knot their aprons on the centre back, while virgins tie in the centre front, so fasten with intention!
2) Learn the Lingo
Impress your party guests by speaking the language, just try not to make an arsch of yourself with the pronunciation:
• Du hast eine super geile Lederhose an
Translation: Your leather pants are really cool. For complimenting your suitor’s skin-tight suede lederhosen when on the prowl.
• Lasst euch nicht lumpen, hoch mit dem Humpen!
Translation: Don’t be a slouch, raise your glass! Yell this to invigorate a party that has become particularly dull or to rally slow drinkers who are lagging behind.
• Wo früher meine Leber war, ist heute eine Minibar
Translation: There is now a minibar where my liver once was. Need I explain more?
3) The beer necessities
Though you won’t be able to find the exact beer served at Oktoberfest, you can still find many Munich-brewed beers in UK supermarkets. Look out for Spaten Lager, Hofbräu Original, and Paulaner Original, specifically. Add a dash of lemonade, and you have yourself a refreshing radler. Clink and drink aplenty! To soak up all the alcohol, cook a collection of carby dishes. Pretzels, potato salad and kasespatzle (think: German mac and cheese) are all Oktoberfest classics. And of course, we can’t forget the bangers! From Weisswursts to Currywursts, Bratwursts and Bockwursts, there are plenty of ways to give guests a sausage.
Deck your digs with blue and white bunting to reflect the Bavarian flag. You don’t need to spend a fortune to replicate the Bierhaus buzz. A pop-up marquee is perfect, but be resourceful and use what you already have. A barrel in the garage? Ach ja! Fold up chairs around a bonfire? Über fantastisch! Although do ensure your furniture is sturdy enough to dance on, or you’re practically asking for an A&E visit. To enhance a feeling of Bavarian camaraderie, otherwise known as ‘gemütlichkeit’, arrange your tables in a communal way. After all, the ideal Oktoberfest setup is one where you can effortlessly pröst! another reveller across the table.
5) Must-have music
While you may not be able to replicate the traditional tweed-clad, drum and brass band in your backyard, Spotify has a whole playlist dedicated to Oktoberfest classics. The key here is to get everyone up, singing and stomping on the tables. We’re talking Sweet Caroline, Take Me Home, Country Roads, and for the closing finale, it has to be the heartfelt power ballad, Angels. The Germans go bonkers for a bit of Robbie.
6) Get competitive
When your guests aren’t smashing back the beers or scoffing sausages, you need to provide them with traditional Oktoberfest entertainment. First up, we have pretzel tossing. Essentially the German equivalent to British welly wanging, the aim is to successfully throw your pretzel onto a stick. If that doesn’t take your fancy, bulk up your biceps with stein hoisting. Here, competitors see who can hold a full litre stein out in front, with a straight arm parallel to the ground for the longest. Live on a hill? Regular Oktoberfestgoers have started a tradition of rolling down mounds while inebriated. Sick buckets at the ready.
7) Practice your Pröst
Last but certainly not least, you must learn how to say ‘ein Prösit’ – a toast. Simply raise your stein, stare your fellow rowdy roisterer right in the eye, and call out ‘Pröst’ as you clink your glasses together. The consequences of neglecting this ritual? Suffer a seven-year curse of bad sex. You’ve been cautioned!
A guide to Britain's best Oktoberfest's 2023
Alton Towers Resort
For a family-friendly atmosphere with a German twist, there’s no better place to celebrate Oktoberfest than at Alton Towers Resort. Ride the exhilarating world-class rollercoasters and experience a magical Bavarian wonderland, complete an authentic oompah band. Running till 1st October, don’t miss out! Book here
Be transported to Bavaria without so much as having to find your passport. Running over three weeks in various locations across the capital, expect beer, bites and belly laughs at London Oktoberfest. Book here
The Bierkeller (Birmingham, Nottingham, Halifax, Manchester, Liverpool)
Calling all boozy brunch lovers! Visit your nearest Bierkeller bar for an Oktoberfest-themed bottomless brunch. Tuck into the likes of bratwurst, pretzels and other German-inspired street food, while sipping on the infamous stein cocktails. Book here
Butlins Big Weekender
With sausages and steins as big as your head, Butlin’s Oktoberfest themed Big Weekenders are back with a bang. Offering oompah bands, fairground rides, live performances and singalongs galore, get yourself to Minehead or Skegness for some adult-only, beer-fuelled frivolity. Book here