Oktoberfest is a wonderful event that is steeped in history; one that’s captured the hearts of people all around the globe, who either flock to Munich to experience the original, or head to their own region’s take on it. In fact, variations of Oktoberfest can be found in countries spanning from the UK to the USA and even Australia. So there’s really nothing to stop you from organising your own version for the local community… wherever you are in the world!
Read on for our step-by-step guide to planning an Oktoberfest event, and discover all you need to know about emulating the world’s largest Volksfest.
What is Oktoberfest and how is it celebrated?
Oktoberfest is an annual event held in Munich, Bavaria, lasting from mid-September to the first weekend of October. It dates back over two hundred years when, in 1810, a horse race was organised to celebrate a royal wedding. Members of the public gathered for festivities in front of the city’s gates for this exciting event, and it was such a success that it was repeated the year after. Eventually it became an annual happening called ‘Oktoberfest’!
Today, the festival is a ginormous celebration of Bavarian culture – with the Munich event garnering around six million attendees from all over the world each year. Impressive!
How to plan your own Oktoberfest event
Follow these steps to put on your own authentic Oktoberfest event 👇.
Set a budget
The first step when planning any event – totting up the numbers! You’ll need to know how much you have available to spend before you get started, otherwise costs can soon spiral.
Find the perfect venue & get the necessary permissions
What makes the perfect Oktoberfest venue? First up, you’ll want to choose somewhere that can house plenty of food and drinks stalls, as well as long trestle-style tables for people to sit at to enjoy their beer. These long tables are one of the ultimate symbols of Oktoberfest (and other similar European festivals) – so be sure to scout large venues with a simple layout that can accommodate these.
Going outdoors could be a great way to secure enough space for your event – think Christmas market vibes with a giant festival-style tent to house your tables and a stage for an authentic Bavarian Oompah band!
Alternatively, you could go for a warehouse or community hall if you’d rather host your event indoors.
Whichever route you go down, make sure you’ve got all the relevant permissions and licences to run this type of event at your chosen location/venue.
Hire furniture and anything else you need for your set-up
Now to start pulling all the physical elements of your Oktoberfest together. You’ll probably find you can hire most of the elements you need, including:
Long tables and benches (a must!)
Furniture/equipment to set up a bar
Flooring – if you’re running your festival outdoors/in a tent, you might need to hire safe, non-slip flooring.
A stage and a sound system for your entertainment – some entertainers might provide their own sound system but others won’t, so it’s worth checking.
Signage – check out our full guide to event signage for all you need to know.
Source your event’s main ingredient – beer!
No Oktoberfest is complete without a steady supply of delicious beer – the more varieties, the better! You could aim to source German beer only to keep things as close to the Real Thing as possible; you may even be able to get the official Oktoberfestbier that’s served in Munich imported. This can be costly though, and there’s nothing to say you have to serve German beer, anyway. In fact, attendees might enjoy getting to try more local, craft beers that are brewed right there in whichever region you’re hosting your event.
Organise plenty of authentic Oktoberfest food
Oktoberfest is (almost) as much about the food as it is the beer. Ok, maybe the ratio of beer to food is more like 70-30, but still – Oktoberfest would feel pretty sad without all those delicious sausages with sauerkraut and succulent roast chickens.
So, what to serve at your own community Oktoberfest event? Here’s some inspo to get the creative juices flowing (warning: may cause sudden onset of hunger):
Roasted ham hock – delightfully crisp and chewy on the outside, soft and tender in the middle.
Wurstle – basically any kind of Bavarian sausage; best served with fluffy fresh Brezen (pretzels) and lashings of German mustard.
Schweinebraten (roast pork) – the Bavarian way is to roast it with dark beer and onions; sounds pretty good to us!
Spit-roasted chicken – one of the biggest foodie symbols of Oktoberfest, chicken roasted on a spit until it’s crisp and golden all over is a must.
Plan some great Oktoberfest-themed entertainment
Hiring a traditional German brass band will give your Oktoberfest a truly authentic feel – these oompah, bop-along melodies usually form the main soundtrack of the day in Munich. But don’t feel like you have to be limited to this one style of music. In fact, Oktoberfest sees a multitude of different music genres hit the stage. Later on is when real party-time begins, with DJ’s and live bands playing more modern music that everyone can sing along to. Of course, you might want to skip the more raucous party times if you’re planning on running a day-time family event. Which route you go down is totally up to you!
Set up event registration & sell tickets online
Now you’ve got all elements of your Oktoberfest planned, it’s time to get set up with a place to sell your event tickets online. You might choose to set up a dedicated website for your Oktoberfest event, but it’s also possible to just pop together a simple box office page on an event registration platform. This could be the better option if you’re just running a small-scale one-off event.
If you choose Ticket Tailor as your ticketing partner, you can customise your box office page with your own fun Oktoberfest branding. And you can also integrate ticketing with your website if you do decide to set one up, so everything can be handled in one place 😌. Find out all about using Ticket Tailor for festival ticketing here >
Promote your Oktoberfest!
Last but certainly not least, you’ll need to promote your community Oktoberfest event. Posting in local social media groups and pages can be a great way to get the word out about a local event, as can flyering around the area. It might also be worthwhile looking into working with a sponsor – perhaps a local brewery or street food company. This can be an effective way to reach a wider audience and get some extra funding for your event too. We have a guide to securing an event sponsor, explaining all you need to know.
Plus, we have tons of guides covering the various aspects of event promotion – check out these as a starter for ten:
Good luck… and prost! 🍻