Oktoberfest 2008: Gadling wants your tips for enjoying the world’s biggest festival

It’s that time of year again, when millions of beer-craving revelers descend on Germany’s second city, Munich, for the world’s largest fair, Oktoberfest, which kicks off this coming Saturday, Sept. 20, and runs through Oct. 5.

Yes, it’s über touristy and expensive. But it’s also a hell of a lot of fun, especially for first timers, and it probably ranks as one of those travel things that everybody should do at least once in their lives.

Are you an Oktoberfest veteran? Gadling would like to hear your tips for getting the most out of Wiesn.

When is the best time to go? Where are the best places to stay? How do you score reservations in beer tents? How much should you budget to spend? What are some don’t-miss attractions beyond the fairgrounds? Dos and Don’ts?

We’d appreciate any tips you’d like to pass on to your fellow travelers.

Here’s how: You can leave a comment, contact us here, or send me an e-mail at: jeffrey.white@weblogsinc.com.

I’ll gather them up and publish the best of them later this week.

Viel Spaß!

Oktoberfest in Munich: Read about it…in March?

Anyone who has experienced Munich’s famed Oktoberfest knows one truth about the world’s biggest beer binge above all else: It’s damn hard to get into one of those tents on the Theresienwiese.

My brother and I tried a few years ago, standing in the rain in several endless lines for nearly two hours, thirsty, with my brother turning to me and finally asking a question probably not often uttered in late September in Munich: “What do you have to do to get a beer at Oktoberfest?”

Ah, memories. They came rushing back as I clicked into a Der Spiegel story on Oktoberfest Inc. that was pimped on the World page of the New York Times online. The Times for a while now has had a content sharing agreement with Spiegel, Germany’s most respected news magazine (which is trying to make inroads in the U.S. by publishing a very solid online edition in English).

The story recounts what a big, billion dollar business Oktoberfest has become, with more than 6.5 million visitors a year getting sloshed and doing stupid things (my brother stole a bike). It’s a really interesting, behind the scene look at what it takes to put the event on (one tent owner pays €2 million a year just to set up and take down his 9,400 seat venue, to say nothing of the €400,000 or so in other costs he absorbs for insurance, musicians, etc.).

But I still have a question, which I’ll direct to the Times: Why are you telling us all this now? The article is dated from last October, despite being hyped as “News from Der Spiegel” on the World page right now…in March. So it’s really late to be reading about last year’s Oktoberfest, and a little early to be reading set-up pieces for Fest ’08.

Timing is everything with newspapers. I wonder what editor made the call to re-print this piece now.

10-Day Sausage Fest in Texas

New Braunfels, Texas, has been holding “Wurstfest — The 10-day salute to sausage” for 46 years. While the rest of the world celebrates Oktoberfest, New Braunfels’ residents wait a bit longer in the fall to honor another German favorite besides beer: sausage.

The fest kicks off with the traditional “biting of the sausage” (see photo) and continues with plenty of accordion music, and the chance to sample different types of wurst. There’s bratwurst, of course, but also apple wurst, jalapeno wurst and more.

This year 125,000 visitors are expected.

[via Msnbc]

Looking for some more Oktoberfest fun? Check out Gadling’s coverage of the festival!

Oktoberfest Lessons: The Chicken Dance

To get you ready for this Oktoberfest season, we’ve advised you on what to wear– Lederhosen, given you instructions on how to eat a Weisswurst, shown you the best carnival rides to try, and pointed you towards the best beer. To recap, we’ve hit dress, food, entertainment and libations. What’s missing from this Oktoberfest round-up is dancing. To prevent the situation where you are left standing in your Lederhosen gazing into your beer mug, unsure of what to do on the dance floor, here’s a lesson on the Chicken Dance. Any Oktoberfest celebration wouldn’t be complete without it. Perhaps, you’ve seen it at a wedding. Even when guests are sloshed, this one is doable.

For the easy version, all that’s really required is that you:

  1. Put the fingers and thumbs of each hand together so that you have two chicken beaks–sort of
  2. Raise your beaks to at least shoulder level to look engaged an interested–higher is better–and open and close them four times to the other dancers
  3. Bend your arms at the elbows to simulate bird wings and flap four times.
  4. Wiggle your behind as you bend and your knees so you lower to the floor and comeback up as you continue to wiggle. (Try to do this to four beats in order to look like a pro.)
  5. Repeat the steps, but going faster and faster until the song ends.

Here’s a Chicken Dance how -to run down, complete with an animated chicken, and a You Tube video with a variety of Chicken Dances performed last year at the Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. As the video shows, you can do this dance several times in a day and it’s just a little different each time–as in a tad different, as in almost identical.

How to Eat Weisswurst in Munich

“It’s hard to find a restaurant in the German city that doesn’t serve weisswurst,” writes Chris Gray, a freelance writer living in Heidelberg, Germany, for World Hum. “But it’s said that the white sausages should never hear the noon church bells.”

If you’re heading to Munich for this year’s Oktoberfest, there should be no escaping the traditional Bavarian breakfast of weisswurst. But there are rules to follow — traditions to be aware of — before you can dip a cut off of the albino veal sausage into a pool of sweet Bavarian mustard.

You can never be too prepared.

On where to go: “Once you find the right restaurant, seek out the table with a centerpiece that looks like a huge cast-iron ashtray and is labeled “Stammtisch.” Never sit there. Grab the table nearest to it, however. In Germany, a restaurant’s stammtisch is reserved for the regulars, and it’s where all the action is.”

On eating technique: “Now comes the tricky part. Weisswuerste are eaten peeled, and while the traditional technique is to snip open the ends and suck out the meat, you’re best off using your silverware.”

On recognizing a good sausage: “When you cut open a weisswurst, it should smell fresh, and the filling should swell out the ends-proof that the meat is of a high -quality and has been properly cooked.”

Head over to World Hum for the full low-down on properly savoring Munich’s whitest sausage.