How To Oktoberfest With Kids

Family with the Augustiner Oktoberfest horses and barrels

I have seen quite a few versions of “Can I bring my kids to Oktoberfest?” floating around various travel groups on the internet. The quick answer is, yes! If you aren’t squeamish about bringing your children to one of the biggest parties on the planet, then you most definitely may bring your children to the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich. We did, and honestly had a much fuller experience than if we had gone without them. With our children we saw -and did- so much of what Oktoberfest had to offer: rides, games, treats, pictures with festively decorated horseys, the works. If we had visited as adults-only, we would have (likely) plopped down at a fest table, ordered our beers and missed much of the rest.

That said, bringing children anywhere requires more planning and coordination than not bringing your children, especially on an all-day outing at a busy place like Oktoberfest. Here is everything I want anyone planning to bring children to know, so you can have the best experience at Oktoberfest with your kids. 

The family arrives at Oktoberfest

Getting There

It was super easy arriving via train. We took a regional train to the main train station and walked to the fest grounds from there. A sign outside the station stated it was 750 meters to Oktoberfest. All you had to do was follow the arrows spray painted on the sidewalk that said “Oktoberfest”. Or, follow the lederhosen. 

Getting In

Entry is free, there’s no ticket required. There is a security check at the entrance. We took our stroller, and have a 21-liter North Face backpack that we use as a diaper bag, containing the usual gear for a day out, including a water bottle. In the bottom of our stroller, we had a couple of umbrellas and extra light jackets as there was potential rain in the forecast. The security guard handed us bracelets, on which to write an emergency contact number, and secure on the boys in case (heaven forbid) they got lost.

According to the rules listed on the official Oktoberfest website, strollers are allowed on the fest grounds before 6pm Sunday-Friday. Children under 6 years old are allowed up until 8pm. Before you go, check the official Oktoberfest website for their most up-to-date policies and full guidance regarding children in attendance. 

Getting the Timing Right

 Oktoberfest runs for two weeks. We went on the second Monday, midway through the festival, arrived just before 11a.m, and beat a huge majority of the crowds. We were able to easily find open tables, didn’t wait in a single line for rides, or restrooms, and, most importantly, never felt like it was too rowdy to be there comfortably with our very little children. Tuesdays are family days with discounts, but this will draw more people. My advice is to arrive before noon on a weekday. The Oktoberfest website has a barometer that measures the crowds by day. It’s a great tool to help you plan. Check it out here.

family at the Oktoberfest table

Choosing a Tent and Finding a Table

There are officially 17 large and 21 small Fest tents. We went straight to the Fischer-Vroni tent because we had read that this was a “quieter” tent, and we wanted the best chance of having a place to sit. We needn’t have been concerned. There were many open tables. I asked a waiter where we could sit, and was told to take any open table. He explained reservations did not start until 4pm, and pointed out a few wider aisles, to better accommodate our stroller. We chose a spot up in the front, near the wooden ship bandstand. Ours was not the only stroller parked under the hull.

We shouldn’t have been, but were, surprised to discover the Fischer-Vroni tent has a mostly fish-based menu. And thus has the lingering aroma of fishsticks. “Fischer” would have been the giveaway there if I had been paying attention. Not in a seafood mood, we found enough non-fish options and enjoyed our lunch of Bavarian white sausage, kasespaetzle, kaiserschmarn and of course, soft pretzels as big as your head. Before noon the noise level was that of a hushed crowd. I could hear the conversations at tables around us (it seemed there were as many American accents as German-speakers). The band warmed up as we sipped our Augustiner-brewed Mass (the official term for one full-liter stein of beer, not to be confused with the Catholic church service).

Apfelschorle and Fest Bier

Order Apfelschorle for your kids. It is an apple juice and sparkling water spritzer, consumed everywhere in Germany. It’s served in a half-liter stein and looks exactly like beer. Take pictures of your child and their “beer” at Oktoberfest and freak everyone out back home.

Oktoberfest biers are served from one of six breweries within Munich city-limits, follow the German purity laws for brewing, are served in 1-liter steins, and run right around 6% alcohol. I’ll pass along some of the best life advice I have received: drink like a pace car, not like a race car. This is family day, after all. Prost!

Oktoberfest with kids

Things To Do

After lunch head out to wander the fest grounds! We had read that the old area of the festival is the most family-friendly, but we skipped it as there was a separate ticket booth and entry fee required. We felt there was plenty for us all to do on the regular side of the Wiesn. We took pictures near the brewery’s beautifully decorated horses, who pull the carts carrying wooden barrels of beer in the opening parade. The boys rode a merry-go-round with various sparkling cars, trucks and things that go. We bought a paper cone of warm, sweet candied almonds. It was while we were watching the boys on their favorite ride of all time- the bumper cars- that the sky opened a deluge and I was grateful my husband remembered umbrellas.

Check Out Another Tent

The tents are so beautiful and, well, festive! Really they’re more solid structure than actual tent. It is impressive. My favorite part are the big hoop-shaped light fixtures, wound with ribbons and greenery. They’re all decorated differently, with colors streaming on the ceiling and a bandstand standing tall over the fest tables. They’re magic for my inner child. Our actual children thought they were pretty neat too. It’s worth popping in, even if just to look!

We sought shelter from the rain in the nearby Paulaner tent. Again, plenty of open tables nearing 1pm. My husband and I took turns walking laps around the inside of the tent, pushing the stroller until the baby fell asleep. The rest of the crew munched our almonds, shared another couple of beverages, listened to the band and enjoyed the first few rounds of drinking songs.

Inside the Paulaner tent at Oktoberfest

Grab A Sweet Treat

When the rain let up and the baby was sound asleep, we went out to complete our lap around the fest grounds (called Weisn). The boys and I rode a kiddie roller coaster. Never let your kids have all the fun. To put a cherry on top of the day we paid a visit to Café Theres for a shared ice cream sundae and coffees for the grownups. Serving coffee, and desserts, with its own bakery in house, Café Theres is described as a place you can seek a quiet spot among the boisterous beer tents of Oktoberfest. It even serves breakfast at 9am!

Potties

We swung through the Augustiner tent on the way out to use the WC. The WCs in each tent are free, and were clean while we were there. The Oktoberfest website says there are changing tables for babies, but we simply laid our stroller seat flat, and used this as a base. They also said there are child-sized toilets somewhere. I didn’t see any, but I also didn’t look. The restrooms are free, but you can leave change as a tip for the attendant.  

Lebkuchen at Oktoberfest

Quick Tips and Tricks for Bringing Children to Oktoberfest

You may hear “Oktoberfest” and “Weisn” used interchangeably, don’t be confused.  

Strollers and children acceptable before 6pm. No strollers on Saturdays, and at extra busy times. No kids under 6 years old after 8pm.

Tables not reserved until 4pm.

Arrive early on a week day to avoid crowds and snag a table.

The later, the noisier.

Free entry, but everything for purchase is cash only!!! (there are ATMS on the grounds)

Apfelschorle, candied almonds, rides

By the time we left, just after 3pm, the party was on. We had a “friendly” (had definitely finished his fest bier) German dad approach us to say he’s been coming to Oktoberfest for 15 years and didn’t even know kids could come! Surprise! Personally, I’m happy we made Oktoberfest memories as a family, and checked another item on the bucket list together. I hope this was helpful in planning your visit to Oktoberfest with kids! It is totally doable. I’m excited for you to go! 

Have you been to Oktoberfest in Munich with, or without, your children? Let me know what your experience was like, and leave any helpful tips for other parents as a comment! I always read the comments on other people’s blogs, there are usually more good takeaways. We can all help each other get out there.

Family with the Augustiner Oktoberfest horses and barrels

See ya out there @exploremore.co

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