I was always jealous that Dave has been to actual Oktoberfest in Munich, it always looks like so much fun! Funnily enough it’s actually not what you imagine apparently; very tent is owned by a brewery or a company and unless you’re invited into one of them, you have to go in the ‘everyone else’ tent, which is heaving and basically where all the tourists are so you don’t even get the experience of mixing with locals.
Anyway, I digress. We decided to make our own Oktoberfest in lockdown when were were trapped in the house and had beer and wurst tasting and lots of Riesling and what followed was possibly the most hüngover I’d been in a while. Over the last few years though Newcastle has hosted it’s own Oktoberfest. We went the first weekend last year and it was lots of fun (until the lad sitting next to us was 3 steins to the wind and threw up all over himself – we knew it was time for an Irish exit at that point). Anyway we went back again this year to see if it lived up to the frivolity of last year. And whether I could make it through a full stein without giving up and turning that stein into wine.
If you’ve ever attended a Bongo’s Bingo event then that will go some way to explain what to expect, other than you don’t have to tipsily bother playing bingo. Music is loud, drinks in 2 pint steins are plentiful and fancy dress and dancing on the benches is highly encouraged. Last year there were QR codes on the table for you to be able to order your drinks to your table but that wasn’t working this year, that said you could time your trips to bar well and we never had to wait too long to be served.
Whilst there’s various beers available in stein form, there’s also cider, wine and spirits available if like me, once you’ve had your picture taken with a stein for Instagram, you fancy something else. The music is essentially ‘Now That’s What I Call Party Anthems’ think the Vengaboys, 2 Unlimited, Steps and of course a little bit of Sam Fender always gets the Geordies up and singing too! There’s also an Oompah band for that extra bit of authenticity but to be honest, that didn’t go down as well as the party tunes.
Food wise there was less available this year than last, I’m sure last year there were a few different food vendors available but this year was solely Geordie Bangers to service all of your wurst needs. No bother to us as that’s what we wanted any way but people looking for more variation may be disappointed. Both food and drinks prices were reasonable, and what you would come to expect from a city centre festival; a 2 pint stein was £12, which, perhaps ironically is more expensive than buying two pints separately, but perhaps to try and prevent people nicking the steins.
Last year when we went it was the first weekend and this year was the last and I think that may have been why this year felt a little more sedate and ever so slightly quieter. That’s not to say we didn’t still have a brilliant time, and if anything the quieter atmosphere actually made it less intense, overwhelming and feel a little more relaxed.
Having gone two years in a row now I think I can safely stay we’re started a little Oktoberfest tradition. We loved going to the afternoon sessions (I dread to think what carnage lies ahead of the evening sessions). It’s good fun and well organised, I’m already looking forward to bringing our Eastbourne friends along next year to show them how the Geordies get down Munich style!