Last year I went along to Oktoberfest and had a great time, so much so that I woke up in the middle of the night asleep on my kitchen floor. So this year when the organisers, invited me along to the yearly event at the Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham, I jumped at the chance.
Planning to go on the opening night, Wednesday, so I could let the good folk of Nottingham know all about it, the organisers said “Come along on Thursday and really enjoy the amazing atmosphere” OK, I thought, they clearly know something I don’t. I’ll go Thursday. Let me tell you, it was completely different to the opening night I went to last year. Last year I had strolled into a half empty marquee, and easily took a seat near the front. There was still fun, German beer, food and music. Overall, a great party atmosphere. Fast forward a year and on the way in I’ve already passed the silhouette of a man urinating, not quite making it to the portaloo outside and we’re being searched at the door of the giant blue and white marquee.
Oktoberfest has a long tradition which started in Munich 200 years ago. It is a celebration of the gathering of the harvest. Taking place over five days Oktoberfest is celebrated in a tent filled with long tables, waitresses and waiters are dressed in Dirndl and Lederhosen and there is space for 2,500 people. I’ve no idea how many were in there, but after queuing to get in (those without tickets turned away) we enter a tent heaving with bodies. Some seated, some dancing some standing on tables, some staggering, many in Lederhosen and lots of men in dresses. Nottingham had clearly set out to have a good time. Entrance is free Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On the Saturday there will be a £5 entrance fee. Alternatively, there is a package with food, beer and seat reservation starting at £13.50 p.p.
Fuelled by steins of specially brewed 5% Bavaria beer and “Schlager” music . The party had been going since 6.30, so when I arrived at 9, it was in full flow. The majority of the crowd appeared to be of student age. Over 20 and you stood out. I don’t feel so much as in Munich, more maybe city centre venue. The organisers had kindly provided me sausage and chips and a HALF of beer (imagine the embarrassment). Sat at the back, I looked like someone had mistakenly invited their sensible aunt. Feet narrowly missing my sausage as revellers climbed across tables like a contestant on Ninja Warriors. The band, who could just about still be heard from the Goose fair Island have travelled from southern Germany and play wonderful live music to support the atmosphere, songs you know and can sing along to. The theme is modern Tyrolean music . When the band takes a break, its advertised that the DJ plays famous Schlager songs you love. I wasn’t aware that Schagler music included YMCA, It’s Raining Men, The Proclaimers 500 Miles and I love Rock n’ Roll.
If you go, be prepared to party, and party hard. They do offer Sunday Lunch, which I imagine might be a more civilised event, so you can let the entire family experience Bavarian culture for a day.
Words and Photographs by Tanya Raybould