Hoping to go to the world's biggest beer festival in Munich, Germany? These travel tips will help.
Step 1: Know what it's all about Know the history of the Oktoberfest -- the festival first took place in Munich in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Bavaria's Crown Prince Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The original Oktoberfest began on October 12 and lasted 5 days, but the 2-week festival now starts in late September to take advantage of the warmer weather.
Step 2: Book your hotel early Book a hotel in Munich as early as possible. There are many within walking distance of the fairgrounds, but with up to 6 million visitors attending the celebration each year, some sell out more than a year in advance. Consider staying in a hotel just outside Munich if you're on a budget.
Step 3: Reserve beer tent seating Book seats in a few beer tents, especially if you want to drink during the popular evening hours. Some of the larger tents require reservations; others offer seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Go to "Oktoberfest.de/en":http://www.oktoberfest.de/en for tent information and phone numbers.
TIP: Be nice to the beer maids in Germany! They can tip you off to reserved seats that won't be occupied for a few hours.
Step 4: Watch the opening ceremonies Watch the opening ceremonies when the mayor of Munich taps the first keg on the first day of the festival. It's not easy to get a seat in the beer tents on opening day, but you can still enjoy the carnival rides and food stands.
TIP: Every Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m. is "Family Day," with discounted rides. Young children aren't allowed in the tents after 8 p.m.
Step 5: Pace yourself! Pace yourself! The only beer size served in the tents is 1 liter -- equivalent to almost 3 bottles of beer. You don't want to be carted off to the medical tent to recover with the other Bierleichen -- which means beer corpses!
FACT: In 2004, the bathroom lines at the Oktoberfest were so long that the police had to be called in to monitor them.