A queer guide to Munich’s Oktoberfest
The first Sunday of Munich’s massive Oktoberfest celebration of beer includes one of the must-do events of the LGBTQ travel calendar. For one day, the Bräurosl tent gets taken over by the queers.
The tent holds 8,400 people, but you still have to get there early if you want to be part of the action - once the tent is full, it’s a one-in-one-out scenario.
My boyfriend Liviu and I were staying with our friends Tristan and Andreas. They’re Munich locals, so they had us up early and in the queue at Bräurosl by 7 AM. The doors to the tent don’t open until 9 AM. While this seemed an unreasonably early start-time, when we arrived at 7 AM there were already plenty of eager guys already ahead of us, and the queue quickly stretched a long way behind us.
That year, it was an uncharacteristically rainy weekend for the opening of Oktoberfest. You’d think that the prospect of standing in a queue for two hours in heavy rain would possibly put people off, but no - everyone was in their lederhosen and eager for a day of drinking beer and singing German songs.
Security was understandably, and reassuringly tight without being overbearing. Once we’d made it inside the tent it was a quick scramble to find a table.
The beer began flowing immediately, and we were soon happily clinking glasses and tucking into a giant salty pretzel. The band got started at 11:30 and the mood and energy of the crowd immediately lifted - everyone excitedly standing on the bench stools and enthusiastically singing. It’s surprising how much your German improves after a few enormous beers.
The crowd is fairly international - a lot of Germans, obviously, but plenty of guys from across Europe. Pretty much everyone is wearing lederhosen.
Food and beer is constantly available, with gruffly efficient waiters and waitresses working up and down the rows of tables. After a salty pretzel and a beer to kick things off, we moved on to the traditional breakfast of weisswurst - the white Bavarian sausages. Then lunch was rotisserie chicken, and then after that I think maybe another giant pretzel, but I can’t really remember.
It’s amazing how much beer you can drink when you really put your mind to it. The good thing about the beer that you get at Oktoberfest is that it’s specially brewed without preservatives - they know that it’s all going to be consumed during the festival, so there’s no need to try and extend its shelf-life. This means that you don’t really get any sort of hang-over. Genius.
What makes this experience really special is the music and the singing. It’s joyous, silly, and bonkers, but a lot of fun, and really just lifts your spirits - even if you’re just making up your own words to the songs.
It’s a friendly and affectionate crowd, and it’s easy to make friends with the people on the tables surrounding you.
It was a long day - we pulled the pin at about 7 PM but the crowd was still going strong. It’s hard to describe just how much fun this is. A great day. A great event. A great excuse to wear some lederhosen.