Will Oktoberfest 2021 happen? Will Oktoberfest 2021 get canceled? What even is my life without pretzels, polka, and pretty much the biggest beers I’ve ever seen in my life?
I get asked these questions every single day. Nay, multiple times a day. They’re coming at me from all sides and I’m just batting them away with my dirndl apron. And do you know why? Because I don’t want to even think about another Oktoberfest-less year. But here we are.
First published: Feb 27, 2021 / Latest update: March 30th, 2021
As an Oktoberfest tour guide and your personal Oktoberfest trip planning assistant, the stakes of “Will Oktoberfest 2021 happen?” are even higher for me, necessity to eat and all. So, I feel your pain 100%.
Will Oktoberfest 2021 happen? Here’s the info you need to know.
When is Oktoberfest 2021?
Oktoberfest 2021 is scheduled to take place from Saturday, September 18th – Sunday, October 3rd. And, as far as we know at this point, it’s still on.
Will Oktoberfest 2021 get canceled: official announcements
There has not yet been any official announcement as to whether Oktoberfest 2021 will happen, but there has been much official chat on the matter.
When to expect an announcement
Last year, the official announcement that Oktoberfest had been canceled came on April 21st. A very sad day, indeed.
Update: The Lord Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter has now said an official announcement as to whether or not we’ll see an Oktoberfest in 2021 should be made by May at the latest.
Why so early?
Though Oktoberfest doesn’t take place until September, Oktoberfest construction actually begins in June.
Each and every year all of the massive beer tents, vendor huts, rides, and structures of all shapes and sizes get torn down after the festival is over and rebuilt the next year. This construction process begins in June and lasts until just before Oktoberfest begins.
Some would even say it never ends.
You can learn more about the Oktoberfest construction (and destruction) process and some fun facts in the post where I answer frequently asked Oktoberfest questions.
Oktoberfest 2021 official updates
As of January 2nd (you can read the official account in this article) Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter has declared, and I’m paraphrasing here, a “go big or go home” policy for Oktoberfest 2021.
Oktoberfest 2021 is either going to happen, or it won’t.
What that means is: they are not planning any sort of “Wiesn Light” (their term) in its place. No stripped-down version of Oktoberfest 2021 with limited tables, separated visitors, admission restrictions, etc. The Lord Mayor, along with the landlords and breweries, believes Oktoberfest should happen as it always has, or not at all.
Adding to this sentiment, Munich’s economic advisor and head of Oktoberfest Clemens Baumgärtner told a Munich radio station in mid-January “We assume that there will be an Oktoberfest this year.”
He cites the combination of increasing vaccinations and declining numbers for his optimistic outlook and hopes to be able to wait until June to make a decision. You can listen to the Clemens Baümgartner interview on 95.5 Charivari here. (Hope you speak German!)
On March 25, 2021, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter admitted he is much more skeptical about a 2021 Oktoberfest in a live Facebook interview. (Note: It’s long and in German.) According to this (translated) news article, his exact words were something like, “I wouldn’t place any bets on an Oktoberfest in 2021.”
Likewise, Minister-President of Bavaria Markus Söder shares Reiter’s skepticism, believing coronavirus cases will rise again in the coming days.
Munich’s economic advisor Clemens Baumgärtner has also backpedalled from his previous stance (above). He now believes there is no safe way to have an Oktoberfest (as the situation stands now) and that “The Oktoberfest must not become an Ischgl.”
(Ischgl, sometimes called the Ibiza of the Alps, is a ski resort in Austria notorious for a massive Covid-19 outbreak in 2020.)
What could happen with Oktoberfest 2021?
The general feeling regarding Will Oktoberfest 2021 happen? is that it’s about 50/50.
On one hand, we have much more of an understanding of Covid-19 and certain safety measures that need to be taken. We have vaccines, information, somewhat of a battle plan, and, most importantly, at least six months of wiggle room.
On the other hand, it seems pretty outrageous to imagine millions of people from all over the world getting together in such confined quarters, screaming their lungs out to Oktoberfest songs and smashing beers together. But maybe that’s just because I’ve been living that #hermitlife for the better part of a year?
But still, things are certainly moving in the right direction so I’ll take that little positivity nugget and keep it close to my chest.
Update: Munich’s leaders express the likelihood of no Oktoberfest this year mostly because of rising cases at the moment. They anticipate cases to keep rising in the coming days, but are holding out hope that, if cases start going down soon, all may not be lost. Also, vaccinations worldwide need to speed the heck up.
What would Oktoberfest 2021 be like?
I just said it but I’ll say it again for those of you who’ve already started drinking: if Oktoberfest 2021 does take place, chances are it’ll be the same festival we all know and love.
The Lord Mayor (and other Oktoberfest big-wigs) have stated they do not want to dilute the magic of Oktoberfest with Covid protocol. No restricted admission rules, no reduction in the number of tables, etc.
Oktoberfest 2021: planning ahead
Gone are the days when we would book non-refundable plane tickets and hotel rooms because they were cheaper and we never had to cancel entire trips before. Now, we’ve had more experience with cancelations than [insert literally any celebrity from recent news here]. Travel during the pandemic is the real “cancel culture.”
Now, we are all-too-familiar with the importance of having a Plan B (and C and D and literally I had to come up with a Plan E last year).
When planning for the “will they/won’t they” of Oktoberfest 2021 cancelation, the best advice I can give is to plan ahead for both scenarios. Here’s how:
Get travel insurance
International travel insurance companies took a forced break after the apocalypse that was March 2020 but they’re back now with new and improved travel insurance policies that cover a wide range of Covid-19 related issues.
First of all, I preach the necessity of travel insurance for all international trips, pandemic or no pandemic. Now, such policies seem more important than ever.
Each travel insurance policy is different but many have adapted to our new normal by offering coverage for:
- Healthcare if you or your travel partner gets Covid while traveling
- Trip cancelation if you have to cancel a trip because you or a fellow traveler got Covid
- Many other Covid-related scenarios
- As well as the myriad of other vitally important reasons you should consider travel insurance.
I consistently use World Nomads and swear by them. You can get a quote instantly in that link and check out their Covid policies while you’re at it.
Book your trip through your credit card
I had a trip to Morocco planned for March 2020 that was, unsurprisingly, canceled in full. (Like, I was to leave literally the day borders closed.) I feel so lucky that I booked my flights through my Chase credit card—as in, booking through the Chase travel portal.
That meant they had to handle the cancelation for me and they had to deal with refunds and vouchers and French accents over the phone and I didn’t. This was such a blessing at such a chaotic time. (For me, not them. I would not want that job.)
There’s also an extra benefit in that many credit cards also offer travel protection when you book your trip with them. Basically, travel insurance.
Have a plan for if Oktoberfest 2021 is not canceled
There are many Oktoberfest-goers out there who have their entire Oktoberfest 2021 trip planned already (as they should—it’s almost March!). And then there are those who are waiting for an official announcement. And I understand the thought process behind both.
So, for those of you waiting to book anything until you know for sure Oktoberfest is happening, the following theory is for you:
When that announcement is made, everyone is going to be booking hotel rooms, flights, tours, everything as fast as possible. With six million people attending Oktoberfest every year (and nowhere near that many hotel rooms), it’s already a job trying to nail down the perfect hotel room. And if everyone is trying to do it at the same time? I shudder to imagine. Pass me a beer.
I’m not saying it’s going to be internet-crashing insanity all at once, but being that it’s almost March (when most people are well into their Oktoberfest trip planning), it’s already go-time.
Book with ease
For the above scenario, I would advise you to:
- Make sure you have already checked out possible flights to and from Munich you’d be interested in booking
- Have a list of potential hotels you’d like to stay at (start with your top 5)
- Have all of your travel voucher information handy for smooth booking (for example, confirmation codes for airline credits)
- Don’t wait until the announcement is made to then begin thinking about your Oktoberfest travel plans
In the spirit of planning ahead, don’t forget to take a minute to consider how’d you feel attending Oktoberfest 2021 and if you even think it’s the right thing for you. Just because it’s a go doesn’t mean you’ll feel 100% comfortable going. I’m just saying, maybe think about the implications of Oktoberfest 2021 actually happening too.
Were you planning to attend Oktoberfest 2020?
Were you planning on attending Oktoberfest last year? If so, did you already have everything booked? Many Oktoberfest hotels and tour operators simply moved all 2020 reservations to 2021 after the announcement was made that Oktoberfest was canceled.
If this applies to you, be sure to have on hand:
- all your 2020 travel confirmations
- any confirmations of your rescheduled bookings for 2021
- the contact information for all airlines, hotels, tour operators, etc. where your 2021 bookings stand.
If Oktoberfest 2021 is canceled, those reservations may get moved again or canceled or who knows what the hotels are going to come up with. And if Oktoberfest 2021 is not canceled, it would be a good idea to reconfirm your reservations and bookings just in case.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst
Again, my best advice regarding Oktoberfest 2021 is to plan your trip like it’s going to go off without a hitch, but prepare for multiple contingencies.
Booking a hotel for Oktoberfest 2021
Much of the Oktoberfest world right now is business as usual. Beer tent websites are up and taking reservations, the official Oktoberfest 2021 poster was just unveiled, and hotels are most definitely still taking Oktoberfest reservations.
Some hotels are even already booked solid during those two weeks in September. (Perhaps a large part of that is rollover from 2020.)
Book a hotel with a good cancelation policy
Even with allll that has happened, I’ve seen some hotels that still do not offer free cancelations. This, to me, is so risky. I know they gotsta make money, but there’s no way I would book a hotel without a solid cancelation policy during a pandemic.
If you plan to go ahead with your bookings for Oktoberfest 2021 before an official announcement is made, I highly recommend booking a hotel that offers free cancelation.
There are plenty of hotels and tour operators and airlines that now offer free cancelations and/or no-fee change policies. This is the future of travel.
This way, you can go ahead and plan your trip before it gets too late, and if Oktoberfest 2021 does get canceled, no sweat. You’re covered, you smart traveler, you!
Finding cancelation policies on foreign websites can be a struggle (if they have them at all). The easiest method I have found for this is to book with Booking.com. When you look at hotels on Booking.com, you can see right there in obvious wording the cancelation policy for each and every room.
Some offer free cancelation until check-in, some up until a certain date, etc. They’re all different but, thankfully, most of them offer free cancelation through Booking.com (even if they don’t otherwise).
What to do if Oktoberfest 2021 is canceled
The following is a list of steps to take if Oktoberfest 2021 does get canceled and after you’ve picked your grieving self up off the floor:
Stay calm, be patient
If Oktoberfest 2021 gets canceled, first and foremost stay calm and be patient.
Everyone who had already planned on attending Oktoberfest in 2021 is fumbling to cancel their plans as quickly as possible. Hotlines may be clogged and hotels and airlines may not respond as fast as you’d like. But they will get to you.
If you’ve canceled any trips at all since March 2020, you know too well that the struggle is real. The entire world—and especially the travel industry—is aware of what’s going on right now and we’re all doing our best. You won’t be left high and dry—your business will get taken care of. Just breathe. I’m mostly speaking to myself here, just go with it.
Are you OK moving everything to 2022?
Something you need to have figured out is whether or not you’re fine with having all of your Oktoberfest 2021 plans and bookings moved to 2022.
Everyone you’ve booked with will have their own policy but, for 2020, many reservations of all types were simply forwarded to 2021. So, it might be a good idea to already know if you’re OK attending Oktoberfest 2022 if this year also doesn’t happen, or if you’d prefer to just cancel straightaway.
Keep in mind that forwarding your bookings to 2022 could potentially equal savings if there’s a non-refundable deposit involved anywhere in there. Also, remember that it’s in the best interest of whomever you booked with to simply move your reservations rather than refund you cash, so there may be extra incentives.
Are you OK keeping your plans?
In contrast to the above, one scenario could be that the festival is canceled, but international travel resumes. What will you do in that case?
Many people I’ve spoken with have said that even if Oktoberfest 2021 is canceled, they still plan to visit Munich if travel restrictions are dropped. (After all, there’s so much to do there and nearby!)
They will still drink beer at the world famous Hofbräuhaus; they’ll still spend a day at Dachau Concentration Camp; they’ll still take their day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle or Salzburg, Austria; and they will still use their plane tickets and hotel rooms and guidebooks.
Plan to celebrate Oktoberfest 2021 at home
I haven’t conducted any complex scientific studies as of yet, but it’s my firm belief that more people threw at-home Oktoberfest parties in 2020 than ever before. Just because Oktoberfest in Munich gets canceled doesn’t mean the spirit dies, people!
Chances are things even domestically will have improved greatly by September so we may actually be able to celebrate with friends and family this year. And even if we’re not in Germany that doesn’t mean we can’t create a mock Munich at home.
Throw an Oktoberfest-themed party
Check out my guide to throwing an Oktoberfest party at home in the most true-to-life way possible. It contains:
- What Oktoberfest party foods to serve (and even my own unbeatable recipe for Bavarian soft pretzels + more)
- What beer to serve at an Oktoberfest party
- How to decorate for an Oktoberfest party
- Must-know tips for buying a dirndl online
- And my expertly-curated Oktoberfest music playlist you can listen to for free
I threw an epic Oktoberfest party at my house last year (for 5 whole people) and was so completely thrilled with the photos so many of you sent me of your own backyard bierfests! Missing a Munich Oktoberfest is such a bummer but WOW did we find some awesome ways to make up for it!
Pro tip: You can also join the Locktoberfest Facebook group dedicated to at-home Oktoberfest celebrations. It’s a great community full of fellow Oktoberfest-lovers and we even give away great prizes!
What to do if Oktoberfest 2021 is not canceled
First of all, crack open a beer. Nay, pick up a bottle of champagne, shake it up, pop that cork, spray it all over yourself, your house, your dog.
Don’t get too excited
Oooo… kayyy… well… What I should’ve said was: wait until you get all facts before you do your touchdown dance. Even if they say Oktoberfest 2021 will go ahead as planned, you still need more information to lock it down.
Consider travel restrictions
Even if Oktoberfest 2021 does happen, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can go. The big elephant in this blog post and just about every Oktoberfest community I’m a part of is: there are still travel restrictions for both Germany and your home country.
Consider this: Oktoberfest 2021 may still happen, but there’s a chance you may not be able to attend. *backs quietly out of the room, shuts the door, tiptoes away*
Knowing that Oktoberfest 2021 will take place is a step in the right direction, but you still need to stay on top of all Coronavirus-related travel updates. Many people are concentrating their anxiety on whether or not the festival will be canceled, when the real issue is whether or not they’ll be able to attend in the first place. (Have I made it worse? I’ve made it worse.)
Stay up-to-date, be patient
If they do decide to go ahead with Oktoberfest 2021, chances are there will be plenty of updates, revisions, and developments to watch for. It may take some time to solidify a working plan.
As always, and I can’t stress this enough, have a backup plan. In this case, have 12 backup plans, one for each possible Oktoberfest 2021 scenario.
My personal coping strategy
As an Oktoberfest tour guide, an Oktoberfest trip planning consultant, and a blogger for whom Oktoberfest makes up the bulk of her existence, whether or not Oktoberfest 2021 will get canceled is something I mull over every day.
Patience and preparation
I, too, am 50/50 on whether or not I’ll be in Munich come September. I honestly have no idea what will happen. To cope with this unknown, I simply take it day-by-day and throw my hands up because I have zero control over the outcome.
I’m mentally prepared to spend a month in Germany this fall, as I do every year. I’ve got hotel reservations, airfare vouchers ready to cash in, and a good idea of what I need to do before then.
However, I’m also mentally prepared to spend that month at home—and knowing we’ll all be safe and healthy as a result is how I will sleep at night. Hopefully by then the situation here at home will have improved enough we can all throw massive Oktoberfest ragers.
Do your part
At this point, we just have to be open to what comes at us. The best things we can do is wear a mask, socially distance ourselves, and get vaccinated so we don’t have to worry about this again in 2022. Because as zen as I am right now, I’m not sure how long that can possibly last. whooosahhh
If you’d like to talk about any of these issues or others regarding your Oktoberfest 2021 planning one-on-one, I’d love to chat! You can book an Oktoberfest trip planning session here and we can discuss any additional questions you still have.
Will Oktoberfest 2021 happen?
Let me know below!
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