All around the world, Oktoberfest is synonymous with gallons and gallons of German beer, folk music and a boisterous good time. It’s the cue for many bars, and not just of the German variety, to throw in the drink promos and put up a good party. If you have travelled to Munich, the heart of Bavaria (Germany’s largest state) and the birthplace of one of the world’s most popular festivals, then you would be well-aware that more than just a place for getting sloshed on beer – it is also where you can truly experience the Bavarian spirit of gemütlichkeit, or conviviality and good cheer.
For a festival so closely associated with drinking beer and making merry over an extended period of time, its origin story makes little mention of similar debaucheries. In fact, the festival, which is held over a two-week period ending on the first Sunday in October, has its roots in the marriage celebrations of the then-crown prince of Bavaria to one Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The celebrations ended five days later with a horse race, which, in the following year’s festivities, was combined with a state agricultural fair.
By the late 20th century, the Oktoberfest that we know today had started to take form, with booths serving food and drink being introduced and later morphing into large beer halls that could each sit up to 6,000. Today, more than six million people from around the globe flock to Munich to consume about 2 million gallons of beer in the two weeks and partake in traditional games, amusement rides, music and dancing, all decked out in traditional finery. Yes, it’s a lot of beer, and a lot of fun.
Eat, drink and make merry
Right here in Singapore, what our take on Oktoberfest lacks in tradition, it more than makes up for in enthusiasm and spirit. Perhaps the most iconic of them all: the Oktoberfest at Swiss Club, which has made a name for itself through the years for knowing how to serve up a rollicking good time, thanks to an unbeatable combo of refreshing beers, hefty Oktoberfest meat platters and most importantly, lots of revelry late into the night.
While celebrations are looking to be a lot more subdued this year (Swiss Club makes a pointed note of not having any table-top shenanigans at this year’s Oktoberfest), there are still many ways to inject some good cheer into your own Oktoberfest celebrations, whilst respecting safe-distancing measures (that means no boisterous singing and hugging after one too many pints, sorry). You can get things started early at Anglo Indian Cafe & Bar (#01-10), where Erdinger beer pints and tasty snacks of calamari and chicken tenders go for just $7 all day (from 21 Sept to 4 Oct), or grab a $7 happy hour pint before 7pm at Waa Cow (#01-09). Great deals await at Milligram (#01-11) after 3pm too: a bucket of three beers go for just $21, while five beers are $30. You get to mix and match from a selection including Asahi, Corona, Hoegaarden and Heineken.
Ready for a feast? Nude Grill (#01-22) / Nude Chill (#01-23) has options that will keep that Oktoberfest-fueled spirits into high gear. $98 for two persons gets both of you starters, mains, a side, desserts and drinks. Bring along another pair of friends with you and you get a veritable feast to be shared among four persons for just $188. Otherwise, just get the drinks package: $49 gets your two hours of free-flow prosecco, wines, beers and spirits every day during lunch and dinner (save for Monday nights).
If you’d rather bring the party home, grab a couple of German wines (who says you have to stick to beer?) from the ever-trusty 1855 The Bottle Shop (#01-24/25). Get a crisp Riesling (the Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2019 comes highly recommended) or the dry, full-bodied Villa Wolf Pinot Gris 2017. The former makes for a great wine to start the night with, while the latter will pair well with hearty German bratwursts and pork knuckles. These easy-drinking bottles are great on their own too.
Get into the spirit of things
The actual Oktoberfest in Munich isn’t for the faint of heart (or low in energy) – just check out one vlogger’s hectic day in the fairgrounds in the video above. While it is obviously not possible to replicate the exact experience here, the ingredients to any successful party – virtual ones included – are pretty much the same: lively music, preferably in theme; games that everyone can partake in; and lots of booze.
First up, get the right playlist. Oompah music, comprising folk tunes and marches, is stereotypical of Oktoberfest. In Germany, as the night wears on and cheeks become flushed from good cheer and cheap beer, live bands will strike up the popular classics Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit or Fürstenfeld. Even if you don’t know any of the words, the rousing tunes will still have you linking arms with fellow revelers and cheering along.
Check out the playlist below, which has a good mix of the classics and popular international hits like “I Will Survive”(apt) and “YMCA”(always fun) that will keep spirits high.
Next up, find the right games. Unless you want to challenge your friends to a beer guzzling or beer stein (or mug) carrying race, traditional Oktoberfest games are perhaps not the best suited for Singapore. Break out instead your trusty deck of cards, or opt for the always-hilarious Heads Up! Charades. The latter is even good for Zoom parties if you and your friends would rather toast to Oktoberfest virtually. Another virtual game that gets increasingly more fun the more you drink and the worse you get at drawing is multiplayer drawing and guessing game Skribbl – just remember to not spill any of your drink over your keyboard.
And finally, as the cherry on the icing of your virtual party, don’t forget to download one of these appropriately festive Zoom backgrounds and evoke the spirit of gemütlichkeit in your own home.
Select backgrounds to download below!
Do enjoy and party responsibly!