Große Zelte (Large Tents)

For many Oktoberfest goers, the beer tent is, understandably, the most important part of their visit. Here’s where you socialize, propose to your partner, gossip, dance, dress up, eat, drink, and sing. Here’s where you tease and flirt, slander and exclude, love and trust, and desire and regret. In short: the beer tent is where you’ll find real life. Near the main and side entrances of the large beer tents there are over a hundred ‘bread ladies.’ Aside from giant pretzels, they also sell rolls, pretzel sticks, beer pretzels, and other baked goods that go well with beer. By the outside walls and in front of the tent entrances there are over 40  booths and 7o stalls where you can get snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, tobacco products, wurst, cheese, fruit, deli food, sweets, and many nice souvenirs.

There are over 30 beer tents peppering the Oktoberfest grounds, but it’s really only the 14 large sized tents plus the after party that are considered the main tents.  These 14 main tents are massive with seating from 4,000-10,000 people plus outdoor beer gardens holding thousands more.  Table reservations sell out up to 8 months in advance, but each tent does keep some seats open on a first-come-first-service basis. Incidentally there are only six types of beer at Oktoberfest because there are only six purely Munich-based breweries, so that Oktoberfest stays a Munich event.

Sources Referenced: München Betriebs-GmbH & Co. KG - Mit and Wiesnkini Project

The Inselkammer family has been running the Armbrustschützenzelt (Crossbowmens’ tent) since 1990. As only the large Munich breweries are allowed to provide Oktoberfest beer, Paulaner beer is served here instead of the family-owned Ayinger beer. Corresponding to the tent’s origin, it’s home to a shooting range, in which the Annual Bavarian Oktoberfest Crossbow Shooting takes place, as well as a celebrity shooting. The tent’s façade echos the architecture of the Bavarian Oberland, south of Munich, as well as the traditional ancient Oktoberfest beer castle architecture. A hog is sitting on top of the front gallery which is decorated by the employees before the beginning of Oktoberfest.. The food at the Armbrustschützenzelt is among the better ones at the Oktoberfest. The meat for several Bavarian delicacies comes entirely from their own livestock. The crossbow association Winzerer Fähndl has been present at Oktoberfest since 1895. Today’s Armbrustschützenzelt originates from their first tent, as the association moved from the large Winzerer Fähndl to its smaller successor in 1926. 

At the Oktoberfest since: 1910
Seats inside: 5,822
Seats outside: 1,638
Beer: Paulaner
Music: Platzl Oktoberfestkapelle, myOmei 6:30pm – 8pm
Host: Josepha and Peter Franz Inselkammer
Restaurant: Platzl Hotel, Pfistermühle
Website: http://armbrustschuetzenzelt.de

For a cozy and traditional festival experience, head for the Augustiner Festhalle. The regional delicacies and the friendly waiters and waitresses are what makes the Augustiner tent one of the most rustic of them all.  The zeitgeist never meant much to the Augustiner brewery. Not only is Munich’s oldest brewery, founded in 1328, the last brewery to serve its Oktoberfest beer exclusively from wooden kegs, also its tent is the most traditional one. Its present-day appearance dates back to 1926. 2010 even brought back its tower, which disappeared after World War II and is today serving as keg storage. But also on the inside, Augustiner is consistent with its tradition. The atmosphere here is much more down-to-earth than in other tents, with traditional music almost all day long and a crowd, which starts dancing on the benches much later than elsewhere. Many argue the Augustinerzelt is the last real Oktoberfest tent with a large portion of indigenous guests and a much less rowdy ambiance. It’s one of the few tents, which are already packed at lunchtime. If you are looking for an authentic experience, this is the place to go.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1898
Seats inside: 6,012
Seats outside: 2.554
Beer: Augustiner Bräu
Music: Augustiner Festkapelle (Conducted by Reinhard Hagitte)
Host: Manfred und Thomas Vollmer OHG
Restaurant: Donisl
Website: http://festhalle-augustiner.com

Popularly known as Bräurosl, this tent was named in honor of Rosi Pschorr – the daughter of the Pschorr  brewery owner and former publican at the Oktoberfest. Rosi was legendary being known to drink her Maß beer every evening on horseback in the brewery and hereby deeply impressing the brewers with her appearance. She is also the motif of the picture high above the entrance. The Bräurosl was established in 1901, being the first tent to be illuminated electrically. In 1913 it was the largest beer tent ever built for the Oktoberfest, seating up to 12000 guests. Recently, it has become the meeting place of the gay community, on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest. In 2021, the tent was to be replaced with a new building and receive an entirely new concept. The new tent will also need a new host, as the Heide family resigned in 2020 after an 84-year-run. The Ludwig-Thoma-Musikanten who have been the tent’s band since 1972 will not continue with the new host of the tent. The new orchestra of the tent will be Josef Menzl, who if known for its traditional but wild Bavarian music.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1901
Seats inside: 6,200
Seats outside: 1,740
Beer: Hacker-Pschorr
Host: Peter Reichert
Music: Kapelle Josef Menzl
Restaurant: Donisl
Website: https://www.braeurosl.de/

As a change of pace from the traditional roast chicken and pretzels, the traditional tent of Fischer-Vroni is just the place to be. Asides the usual Oktoberfest delights, the menu includes numerous fish dishes and, of course, the original Bavarian Steckerlfisch (fish on a stick). This modest and cozy tent is not quite as loud as the big beer tents.  Not later than 1818, the first herring was grilled at Oktoberfest, but although it has been a popular treat for decades, it has completely disappeared until today. The reason is an even more popular fish dish: the Steckerlfisch, which is mainly mackerel, trout or zander grilled on a stick. On the south side of the tent, you can watch the mackerels, trouts, zanders, fingerlings, and bass being grilled and buy one of them for consumption in a beer garden. Besides the fish-oriented and very unique menu, Fischer-Vroni. In 1904 Josef Pravida built the famous timbered house with the half-hip roof and stork’s nest for the first time, but opened it under the name “Fischerhütte zum Holländer” (Dutchman’s Fishing Hut) and renamed it three years later as Fischer-Vroni. 

At the Oktoberfest since: 1904
Seats inside: 3,162
Seats outside: 710
Beer: Augustiner Bräu
Host: Hans Stadtmüller
Music: Sepp Folger und die Münchner Musikanten
Restaurant: Jagdschlössl, Sappralott, Lindwurmstüberl, Giesinger Garten, Schweizer Hof
Website: http://fischer-vroni.de

The Hacker marquee is one of the most famous tents of the Okotberfest with its white and blue ceiling, designed by Oscar winner Rolf Zehetbauer, it can even be opened upwards depending on the weather. Hackerzelt’s guests are not only numerous but also rather young and arrive at the non-reserved section already before noon. The front gallery is the destination of the annual Oktoberfest visit of 1860 München’s football team. The host Toni Roiderer, actually, wanted to become a butcher, but after taking over his parents’ restaurant, Zum Wildpark, he become an extraordinarily successful landlord. So successful, that he became Willi Heide’s successor as the Oktoberfest landlords’ spokesman in 2002. The 13,000 square feet of scenery painted on the tent’s interior, highlights Munich landmarks and the Bavarian way of life. Sit below the inspirational cloud-studded sky, sip sublime Hacker-Pschorr beer, and taste divine Bavarian cuisine while proprietors Toni and Christl Roiderer and their team ensure your stay is memorable. 

At the Oktoberfest since: 1894
Seats inside: 6,838
Seats outside: 2,540
Beer: Hacker-Pschorr
Host: Thomas Roiderer
Music: Kirchdorfer, from 7pm to 8:30pm Cagey Strings
Restaurant: Zum Wildpar
Website: http://hacker-festzelt.de

The former royal and now state-owned Hofbräuhaus has been present at Oktoberfest for a surprisingly short period of time. Even more remarkable, the first Hofbräu beer was not served at the Hofbräu tent, but at Schottenhamel in the early 50s. Finally, in 1952, Hofbräu opened its own beer tent for the very first time. Inheriting the reputation of the renowned Hofbräuhaus am Platzl and the brewery successfully exports beer to the English-speaking world, the Hofbräu-Festzelt is most popular amongst them. Adapting foreign drinking habits, since the 80s it has become the only tent with a large standing area without a bar. It’s located directly in front of the band and accommodates around 1,000 mostly international guests. The tent’s decoration is dominated by 600 kilos of hops hanging from the roof. The angel levitating under the roof is Aloisius, the protagonist of the Ludwig Thoma satire “Ein Münchner im Himmel”, who is sent to deliver a divine inspiration to the Bavarian government, but finally gets wasted at Hofbräuhaus, where he still sits today.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1952
Seating capacity inside: 6,098 plus Standing room 1,000
Seating outside: 3,022
Beer: Hofbräu
Host: Friedrich and Silja Steinberg
Music: Alois Altmann und seine Isarspatzen
Restaurant:
Hofbräukeller
Website:  http://hb-festzelt.de

The Wies’n-Schänke (run by the delicatessen company, Käfer) technically is not a real tent because it is made from solid wood and is more reminiscent of an old farmhouse. In addition to beer, champagne is also appropriately served to accompany the delicatessen and various specialties. The Käfer family has been at Oktoberfest since 1971 since 1972 with today’s business, which resembles a farm much more than a beer tent. Also on the inside, stall-like seating on two floors is preferred to the common structure of a beer tent. It’s the only beer tent with reservable tables in its beer garden, which even seats more persons than the building itself. While being very calm in the afternoons, it is hard to get in there in the evenings, as there are no non-reserved tables inside. The menu is even pricier than in other tents and geared towards a well-off clientele. Consequently, its ambiance is far from being traditional and lacks a traditional band. It is one of only two beer tents, which are allowed to serve until 12:30 a.m.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1971
Seats inside: 1,164
Seats outside: 2,100
Beer: Paulaner
Host: Michael Käfer
Music: 1st floor Dreirad and Speedos; 2nd floor California Sun and Gerry & Gary
Website: https://www.feinkost-kaefer.de/wiesn-schaenke

Although it’s pretty hard not to spot the Löwenbräu-Festzelt with its 37-meter high tower. Since 1949, above the entrance, sits a mighty lion which roars its unmistakable “Lööööwenbräu” every minute for all to hear. It therefore comes as no surprise that the players of TSV 1860, better known as ‘die Löwen’ (the lions), are regular guests here. Wiggerl Hagn, who ran the tent of the Löwen brewery until 2018, was the most senior landlord at Oktoberfest. Even before taking over the Löwenbräuzelt in 1979, his family served Oktoberfest visitors at Schützenzelt from 1953. In 2019, his daughter who has already been his official co-host for years, fully took over. The essential look of the tent dates back to 1956, the current building was constructed in 1999. The Löwenbräu-Festzelt is very popular among tourists. If you are looking for international party people, you may want to give it a shot. In the evening, the music is almost exclusively English-speaking. At times, it may resemble an English pub more than a beer tent.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1910
Seats inside: 5,682
Seats outside: 2,796
Beer: Löwenbräu
Host: Stephanie Spendler
Music: Die Heldensteiner
Restaurant: Hirschau
Website: http://loewenbraeuzelt.de

The Marstall Festzelt replaced the famous 111-year-old Hippodrom in 2014, after its host lost his license due to tax evasion. As its name suggests, the Marstall is mostly designed after its “horse” themed predecessor, and was named after the former riding school of the Bavarian court. It even cites the extraordinary art nouveau façade from 1985. However, its colors and heart-shaped windows leave a rather kitschy impression. The inside of the tent resembles Nordic, clear and plain design featuring less decoration elements than the other, more baroque tents. The menu is rather expensive and offers a number of very unusual dishes like prawns instead of traditional ones and serves Spaten beer. In search of a new identity for the not so busy afternoon, the Marstall is again changing the afternoon band in 2019. That year, Die Oberbayern again played before the Münchner Zwietracht, one of the many relicts from Hippodrom-times, hits the stage at 18:30pm. Targeting an older, well-situated crowd, the atmosphere very calm before 9 p.m., when the tent gets transformed into a discotheque.

At the Oktoberfest since: 2014
Seats inside: 3,486
Seating outside: 882
Beer: Spaten Oktoberfestbier, Franziskaner wheat beer, non-alcoholic Löwenbräubier
Host: Able Family
Music: 12pm – 18pm Die Oberbayern, 18:30pm Münchner Zwietracht
Restaurant: Leger am Dom
Website: http://marstall-oktoberfest.de

Oxen have formed the focal point at the Ochsenbraterei for the last 130 years, with around 100 of these highly prized horned animals being consumed over the course of each Oktoberfest. Each ox is a true child of Munich, as they are exclusively reared at the municipal estate Gut Karlshof. The first oxen grill was built by Johann Rössler for the Oktoberfest 1881. The steam-powered grill was so popular, that he could even charge an entrance fee for it. Over the following decades, the grill became larger and turned into a large beer tent, which was acquired by the Spaten brewery in 1980, when the well-known Haberl family took it over. Back then, the tent became its very unusual curved façade, which is contrary to the very common, traditional interior with white and blue cloths, large wreaths and Trachtler figures at the posts. The Haberls like their beer tent design to such an extent that they have been trying to register it as a three-dimensional trademark since 2010. A new Ochsenbraterei building was introduced in 2017. The new tent retained the most significant design elements of its predecessor.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1881
Seating capacity inside: 5,950
Seats outside: 1,600
Beer: Spaten
Host: Antje Schneider
Music: Kapelle Mathias Achatz
Restaurant: Zum Flaucher, Chinesischer Turm, Kugler Alm, Hopfengarten, Wirtshaus Franz Xaver, Michaeligarten, Schinderstadl, Taxisgarten
Website: http://ochsenbraterei.de

The Schottenhamel-Festhalle is the oldest and most traditional tent, with the Schottenhamel family being represented at the Oktoberfest since as far back as 1867.  In 1872 they were the first to introduce the Märzen beer to Oktoberfest, which only happened due to short supplies of the usually sold summer beer after an unusually hot summer. The Schottenhamel tent is still today a popular destination among students and other young guests. Some fraternities even have their own tables in the students’ box in the back of the tent. In 1950, the landlord at that time, Michael Schottenhamel, had a very sustainable idea by engaging Munich’s mayor Thomas Wimmer for tapping the first barrel in his tent. A new tradition was born, “O’zapft is!” which spread all over Bavaria, and still signals the official beginning of Oktoberfest. Until 2015 the tent’s look has not changed much since 1953. The current building was inaugurated in 2000. Seating is here is rather unusual as tables are smaller and benches on all four sides increase the density. Some appreciate the consequential cuddliness, others argue that a little more space for eating would be more comfortable.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1867
Seats inside: 6,320
Seats outside: 2,710
Beer: Spaten
Host: Christian and Michael Schottenhamel
Music: Oktoberfestkapelle Otto Schwarzfischer
Restaurant: Nockherberg, Menterschwaige
Website: http://festzelt.schottenhamel.de

In 1896 the first shooting competition took place at Oktoberfest. Since 1926 it has been held by an own beer tent, the Schützenfestzelt, which moved to its present-day location at feet of the Bavaria statue in 1961. In the beginning, it didn’t even sell food and for many years and many Oktoberfest, visitors forgot about it due to its remote locations. This has completely changed in the last few years. The Reinbold family, who has been running the tent since 1979, established it as the location for Munich’s youth, especially those that are wealther. Accordingly, the menu offers a selection of wine, which can also be consumed at the bar. Besides a very young crowd in the central aisle, the boxes and the large gallery host a large number of riflemen, who take part at the Oktoberfest shooting in the rear of the tent. This is the most prominent on the first Sunday when the portion of participants of the Trachten- und Schützenzug is much larger than in the other beer tents. The remodeling of the tent in 2015 with a very large gallery shifted the crowd towards older guests and an overall calmer atmosphere as the capacity of the central aisle was reduced.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1876
Seats inside: 5,100
Seats outside: 1,400
Beer: Löwenbräu
Host: Eduard and Ludwig Reinbold
Music: Die Niederalmer
Restaurant: Zum Franziskaner, Löwenbräukeller
Website: http://schuetzen-festzelt.de

While the Weinzelt is not the only large beer tent to offer wine (Armbrustschützenzelt, Käfer, Marstall, and Schützenzelt do so as well), it is the only to offer wine instead of Oktoberfest beer. Wine stands have been a part of Oktoberfest since 1885 when a Spanish Bodega first opened. Today’s Weinzelt was established in 1984 by the Sekt-producer Nymphenburger Sekt and was rebuilt in 2005. The Weinzelt is very busy after 9 p.m. when all tables are reserved due to the fact, that it is one of only two tents allowed to open until 12:30 a.m. The rest of the day, however, Weinzelt may offer a rather intimate Oktoberfest experience due to very remarkable pricing. The pricy menu features some unusual dishes, even a Thai one, and gears towards the same sort of guests as the Käfer Wienschänke, who are older and wealthier than average. The three bands do not play traditional brass music, but conventional party songs. Also, seating is different from the beer tents with the whole central aisle divided into one-table stalls.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1949
Seats inside: 1,920
Seats outside: 586
Beer: Paulaner wheat beer only (until 9 p.m.)
Host: Stephan Kuffler
Music: Sumpfkröten until 16:30, Blechblosn 17:00-20:30pm, Högl Fun Band from 21:00, Mon. – Fri. The Snoops 12-14:00
Website: http://weinzelt.com

The Paulaner Festzelt, formerly known as the Winzerer Fähndl, can be easily spotted from a distance because of the huge beer tankard that rotates on top of the tent’s tower. This lovingly decorated tent is renowned for its cosy atmosphere and large number of regular guests, including the players of FC Bayern Munich. The clientele is a little older – one reason why it is so easygoing and not quite as wild as in the other tents. Although it still bore the name of the crossbowmen association “Winzerer Fähndl” until 2018, it has been a long time, since the last crossbow shooting took place at the Winzerer Fähndl. The shootings moved to the Armbrustschützenzelt in 1926. The Winzerer Fähndl itself was the first large beer castle at Oktoberfest in 1895 and started the evolution of small beer stand becoming the large beer tents we know today. After the acquisition of Thomasbräu by Paulaner, the Winzerer Fähndl became Paulaner’s brewery tent. In 2019 the Paulaner brewery, unfortunately, chose to ignore the tent’s rich history by changing its name to “Paulaner Festzelt”.

At the Oktoberfest since: 1885
Seats inside: 6,388
Seats outside: 2,010
Beer: Paulaner
Host: Arabella Schörghuber
Music: Die Nockherberger; 7pm – 9pm Nachtstark
Restaurant: Grünwalder Einkehr
Website: http://winzerer-faehndl.com

Sadly, 2013 was the Hippodrom’s last year at the Oktoberfest and was replaced by the Marstall although a tent of the same name and similar design still exists at the Munich Frühlingsfest. The Hippodrom first opened 1902 first as a snack and show booth an actual hippodrome by the legendary showman Carl Gabriel, its guests were mainly Munich’s Schickeria, the high society, or at least what pictures itself to be part of the latter. Originally, the Hippodrom was popular among guests for watching girls horseback riding in the hippodrome in the middle. The Hippodrom was one of the most popular tents for young international guests and Bavarian locals alike. It was cozy, flirty and fun. It was somewhat smaller than the other tents, and added stylish flair with its champagne bar. For the first time, the 1988 Oktoberfest takes place in the Hippodrome without horses, due to animal welfare reasons. Instead there was only a horse carousel for amusement. After 111 years, the tradition of the Hippodrome ended after Festwirt (Festival Manager) Sepp Krätz, had the concession taken from him following a conviction for tax evasion.

Premiered at the Oktoberfest: 1902
Inside Seats: 3,484
Outside Seats: 884
Beer: Spaten and Franziskaner
Host: Sepp Krätz
Music: Die Münchner Zwietracht
Restaurant: Andechser am Dom, Waldwirtschaft
Website: http://www.hippodrom-oktoberfest.de

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