Maya Driver

Written by guest blogger Freya Koepping

We're in the middle of those wonderfully lazy few weeks of summer, when you're either on holiday yourself, or you're at work, but since everyone who can make any decisions is away, you get to browse through our amusing Hot Searches pages for as long as possible. And search for stuff (which is what we want you to do – some of us have to work you know...)

You might be looking for ways of mitigating the shock of the return to serious business in the autumn. Perhaps the best remedy is a little city break – and city breaks don't come much more fun than the Oktoberfest in Munich.
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The Oktoberfest has a long tradition, having first been celebrated as a horse race to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese in 1810. Today, it has evolved into a vast fairground containing a wide variety of rides and food stalls – children get a discount on the rides until 6pm every Tuesday. The ground is located on the 'Theresienwiese', within easy reach of the city centre by public transport.

The main attraction for the over-18s however is the succession of enormous beer halls, which generally involve several thousand locals and tourists noisily enjoying freshly brewed beer, a range of food that doesn't usually get more creative than roast chicken and chips, and of course the cheesy German music.

Each of the beer halls, or 'Festzelte', has different beers and a different reputation. 'Schottenhammel' is the most traditional, as that is where the Oktoberfest is officially opened. The 'Hofbräu' is probably the most famous, and as a result attracts a high proportion of our Antipodean and American friends. Those looking for a classy experience should perhaps head for the 'Hippodrom', or the smaller 'Käfer', which last year featured the likes of Claudia Schiffer. A personal favourite is the 'Schützenfestzelt', with a good mix of locals and tourists – although after some time spent there you might have trouble pronouncing it!

A particularly amusing aspect of the festival for tourists is the traditional Bavarian outfits, with women sporting a 'Dirndl' – dresses with rather plunging necklines and an apron at the front. The way the lady ties the apron holds a range of useful clues for those gentleman with a romantic interest. According to tradition, single ladies tie the apron on their left, while widows tie it at the back, and married women tie it on their right. Men have the privilege of squeezing into rather less attractive short leather dungarees, the so-called 'Lederhosen'.

Although other nations, and the Germans in particular, are constantly accusing us Brits of eccentricities, the Oktoberfest actually takes place mainly in September. This year, the dates are from 10th September – 5th October, so get booking!