|Photo credit: Ross Silcocks|
“Hi, welcome to Bristol’s Oktoberfest. Have you been before?” asked the friendly Lederhosen-clad man upon our arrival.
“No,” we chorused back. “Well, only the one in Munich.”
Somehow I don’t think that was the response he was expecting.
Munich’s Oktoberfest is legendary and has been an important part of Bavarian culture since 1810. In just its 2nd year, however, Bristol’s Oktoberfest perhaps isn’t as well-known as its German counterpart, but that didn’t stop it selling out. On one of the two nights at least.
As a final year German student who loved and lived in Bavaria on her year abroad – naturally I went to actual Oktoberfest (remember my post about it?) – the chance to unleash my inner German here in Bristol was too good to pass up.
Luckily, I can still (just about) squeeze into my Dirndl, and with a couple of equally eager wannabe German chums, we wandered down to Brunel’s Old Station to relive our glory days for a night.
There were two ways the evening could’ve gone, we thought: either it could be totally cringe and try-hard, or it could be pure hilarity and genuinely German in style. Oh, the suspense.
Pleasingly, there were definite similarities between Munich’s and Bristol’s Oktoberfests, the main one being that ludicrous quantities of beer was consumed by all.
The Maße, (huge Bavarian beer mugs) however, were plastic in Bristol, making the Dirndl-clad waitresses’ jobs far easier. You know those images of German ladies carrying five giant beers in each hand? Yeah, that really happens at Oktoberfest.
But while the Maße may have been plastic, no-one cared in the slightest. They were all too busy dancing on the benches and swigging away.
I’ll be honest, I don’t recall any organised dance routines at Munich’s Oktoberfest (and no, not because I was too betrunken to remember), but it seemed to be a rather large part of my Saturday night at Bristol’s Bavarian party.
While the “oompah” band (a total stereotype) played, we revellers were encouraged to sway “forwards, backwards, left, right, stand up, sit down, and drink!” So we duly obliged.
|This was not part of the routine. I can't even explain what is happening.|
Everyone was getting into the spirit of the evening, and I was genuinely impressed by how many people had made the effort to wear Tracht – Dirndl and Lederhosen. However, while in Germany my Dirndl most definitely stood out as a cheap one, it’s safe to say it looked extremely legit and classy compared to the outfits of the majority of ladies at Bristol’s Oktoberfest.
Our waitress was wearing a choker. I’m fairly certain that’s not traditional, but kudos to her for reinventing the look.
|Photo credit: Ross Silcocks|
There was a conga line, a very bendy performing lady and a food hut called “Fooden” (definitely not German), so it’s safe to say it wasn’t a totally authentic Oktoberfest experience. However, there were definitely aspects of the night that took me back to my time in Munich.
For starters, the classic German toast “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, Gemütlichkeit” was sung over and over again, which I loved. Everyone belted it out each time, regardless of whether they knew what they were saying or not. Who needs to understand the words when it ends in beer-drinking, oder?
We also indulged in some traditional German (and conveniently carby) German “Fooden” – pretzels, Wurst, chips and potato salad may have all occurred, and it’s safe to say that by the end of the night not even we German-lovers cared in the slightest that the potato salad was more British than German in style.
The fact of the matter is that Bristol’s Oktoberfest was a great night out. If you don’t believe me, ask any of the many stag dos who appeared to be having the times of their lives.
As far as I’m concerned, anything that encourages people to see how awesome Germany is, even if done so in a somewhat stereotypical fashion, is a winner.
Bavaria was brought to Bristol for two nights only, and now all this Germanophile can do is sit around waiting for the Christmas markets to start…
This article originally appeared on Epigram. There's loads of other good stuff on there too. And I'm definitely not biased. At all. Promise.