Summer is winding down which means one thing – it’s almost Wiesn Season in Munich…Not a native speaker? No sweat, we’ve got your list of German vocabulary for Oktoberfest!
If it’s your first time (or your umpteenth) attending the brew-tiful Oktoberfest festivities – we’ve put together a handy list of German festival terminology to prep you for the most malt-jestic time of the year..or the essentials to survive your first! 50 Essential German Words and Phrases you need to survive Oktoberfest:
German Vocabulary For Oktoberfest: General German Words
Oktoberfest has a whole host of handy specific terminology – but here are some key German words and phrases to memorize
Oktoberfest is often called Wiesn in Bavarian to keep it nice and simple. Wiesn comes from Theresienwiese.
This should be top of the list because it’s where you’re celebrating! München is the German word for Munich. Fun fact to share at the Bierzelt – this actually loosely translates to ‘home of the monks’ and refers to the city’s origins of a Benedictine Monastery.
If you’re looking to flex on the locals, drop this one into convo – the Bavarian word for Munich
The official festival ground for Oktoberfest – you can find this in the neighbourhood of Ludwigvorstadt-Isarvorstadt.
Where you’ll spend most of your time – the Beer tent, or tent
If your maß (the big litre size of beer) mentality is one and done, head here – the wine tent. Germany has a stellar international reputation for its wine – go for a Riesling.
Traditional dress in German speaking countries
Tracht usually worn by women – this consists of a white blouse, a tight fitting bodice and wide fitting skirt (in one piece), and an apron. If you’re single and looking to mingle, tie your apron bow on the left, but if you’re happily ensconced tie it on the right. Waitresses, widows and children usually tie theirs at the back.
Tracht usually worn by men – it literally translates to leather trousers. Lederhosen are breeches – which means they have an upper part to them (sometimes they are worn like overalls, sometimes without).
One of the best German expressions – this literally translates to ‘beer corpses’ and refers to people who have passed out from drinking too much. If you want to spot some of these, head up to Kotzhügel.
German Vocabulary For Oktoberfest: Words and Phrases For Food
One of the best part of Wiesn season is chomping through traditional snacks and hearty local dishes to keep the cold/impending hangover at bay. Here are some of our must eats
Gingerbread heart – beware, as these aren’t what most foreigners think gingerbread tastes like (they are far more delicious!), they’re firm (not chewy), and have several other spice notes. Take one to munch on, but they keep for a few months and make a great souvenir or decoration.
Hot candied almonds – once you start you can’t stop.
Pretzel/Pretzels – these are big, salty, and delicious.
A white bread roll with a crispy crust. Each region of Germany calls it something different, but down here you’ll be ordering Semmel with your sausages.
Sausage – don’t leave without trying a Weißwurst, the speciality of Bavaria.
Local cheese spread – best enjoyed with a Bier and a Breze. It’s made using 2 parts soft cheese, 1 part butter, and then is spiced with paprika, salt, and pepper.
Literally means bread time – and is the best way to enjoy your bread with local accompaniments. Ordering Brotzeit usually means you will receive some form of brown bread/brezn, butter, ham/cold cuts, cheese and/or Obatzda, and some pickles.
Roast chicken – you will not be able to walk past the smell of these on the rotisserie. Usually you hit a half or a whole chicken.
Roast pork – a slice or two of will keep you going for the evening
Not for the faint of heart or the ‘not-tooo-hungry’ – this is a juicy pig knuckle served on the bone, covered in glorious crispy crackling.
Similar to meatloaf – usually made from finely ground corned beef, pork, and bacon, it is packed into a bread pan, baked, and served by the slice.
This cozy, caramelized pancake dessert is one Oktoberfest food to not miss out on! It’s a large pile of fluffy torn up pancakes, with rum soaked raisins, topped with sprinkles of powdered sugar and apple sauce on the side – aka your perfect comfort food dessert to your comfort food filled day.
A last sweet treat to take on the fair-ground rides – you likely know this is as candy floss or cotton candy.
German Vocabulary For Oktoberfest: Words And Phrases For Drinks
Real talk – if you’re attending Oktoberfest, you’re likely here to sample some of Munich’s most esteemed brews. Have fun but stay hydrated!
This one’s a no-brainer – you will find beer everywhere, and it’s all delicious.
To take part in Oktoberfest, all beers must be brewed within the Munich city limits and adhere to the Reinheitsgebot – Germany’s beer purity law which notes that the only accepted ingredients are water, barley, and hops – you won’t find any craft beers here.
A 1 litre glass of beer – as the 2023 price for a Mass will set you back €13.20 – 14.50€
Water – don’t forget to top yourself up between drinks
A 50:50 spritz of apple juice and soda water – pro tip: if you need a break from the booze this looks just like beer
German soft drink – a mix of cola and orange soda (excellent for hangovers)
A lower-alcohol mix of beer and lemonade
Wine – you can also ask for a Weinschorle (similar to Apfelschorle) if you’re after a more refreshing Spritz
Best saved til the end of the day – Schnapps encompasses several types of alcoholic spirits, but in this case it will generally refer to a distilled fruit brandy. Best thrown back after a long day on the beers.
German Vocabulary For Oktoberfest: General German Phrases
Though you’ll find a whole host of international attendees, it will endear you a long way with the locals to throw in some German. These are some key phrases
Hello – you’ll find this is the standard greeting in southern Germany
Ist hier frei/Ist dieser Platz frei?
Is this place free?
How much? Infers cost
Wo ist die Toilette?
Where are the toilets? PS – as people are drinking litres at a time, prepare yourself for long queues
Noch ein Bier bitte
Another beer please
To your health! Another (slightly more formal) iteration of cheers
Oans, zwei, drei, g’suffa!
One, two, three, drink!
O Zapft is!
It’s tapped! This is a traditional Bavarian expression uttered by the mayor of Munich during the tapping of the first beer barrel – once this is exclaimed, then it signals the beer can begin to be sold. You’ll hear this all over – the traditional response is ‘Auf eine friedliche Wiesn’ (for a peaceful Oktoberfest)
Good bye – you’ll find this is the standard farewell in southern Germany
German Vocabulary For Oktoberfest: Words For Oktoberfest Rides
Oktoberfest isn’t just about beer – it’s a giant fairground. These are some of the best/most iconic rides
This literally translates to ‘devil’s wheel’ – but don’t let that put you off.
It’s a rotating circular platform that you sit or lie on which begins to spin slowly, but then picks up in speed – causing some riders to slide off the platform.
If you’re not keen to give it a go, it’s hilarious to watch – there is usually an announcer narrating the event.
Rollercoaster – a fairground classic
Ferris wheel – the best place to get a view over the festival
Ghost train – hop on a wagon and enter the scare house
Giant swing – definitely do this one before starting on the beers