Schottenhamel-Festhalle: Reservation, atmosphere, history

O’zapft is! The first beer of the Oktoberfest at the traditional tap

O’zapft is! The “Schott’n” hosts the starting shot for the Oktoberfest every year. Fun fact: The youngest Oktoberfest audience celebrates in the oldest Oktoberfest tent.

Die Festhalle Schottenhamel auf dem Münchner Oktoberfest
Sebastian Lehner

What’s special: where the tapping happens

There’s no Oktoberfest without the Schottenhamel-Festhalle, because this is where Oktoberfest is officially opened every year with a tap. At noon on the first day of Oktoberfest, the mayor of Munich taps the first barrel of beer with as few strokes as possible. “It’s tapped! To a peaceful Oktoberfest!” Only then may the other tents start pouring. Why does the tapping taking place at the Schottenhamel? Because it’s where the event was “officially” was tapped for the first time in 1950, by Thomas Wimmer, the mayor at the time. Legend has it that he was in quite a hurry because he had to open a mass at Theresienhöhe shortly before noon, that it was raining buckets, and he simply took the shortest route into a tent: that tent was the Schottenhamel. Whether it really happened that way is hard to say.

The history: the oldest Oktoberfest tent

It’s hard to believe: In 1867, the forerunner of the Schottenhamel tent was still a small wooden shack with 50 seats. Today, the large festival hall alone can accommodate more than 6,000 guests. The Schottenhamel family invented the Oktoberfest beer in the hot summer of 1872. The lager and summer beer reserved for the Oktoberfest had been used up prematurely, so Michael I brought a new beer to the Oktoberfest: the Märzen. With 16 percent original gravity, it was stronger and more expensive, but became the classic Oktoberfest beer. In 1886, the Schottenhamels set up the first canvas tent on the Theresienwiese.

The audience: the youth of Munich

Today, around 9,000 people fit into the Schottenhamel-Festhalle and beer garden. The beer tables and benches are unusual, different from other beer tents: You not only sit opposite each other in the classic beer setup, but also around the corner. This increases communication and the potential for flirting! The Schottenhamel is a meeting place for the young people of Munich.

The music: Otto Schwarzfischer band

The Schwarzfischer band has been playing at Oktoberfest since 1950, and played the first cordial toast after tapping. Conductor Christian Sachs’ motto is “traditional and modern” — Bavarian brass music for Oktoberfest lunch, the first beer with roast chicken, party songs in the evening, and of course the latest Oktoberfest hits get things cooking at the festival hall. And things get quite romantic again for the “grand finale” on the last Oktoberfest Sunday, for example with “Weust' a Herz host wia a Bergwerk” (Because You Have a Heart Like a Mine) set to thousands of sparklers...

The menu: from traditional to Bavarian burgers

“Three times Bavaria,” for example, can be enjoyed in a single dish in the Schottenhamel-Festhalle: veal patties, beef and pork roll, and Munich-style Rostbratwürstl sausages. All served with potato mash. Of course, you can’t forget the half roast chicken, the knuckle of pork, and the pork roast, as well as vegetarian dishes such as Allgäu cheese spätzle or potato waffles. On top of that, there are “Deandl- und Burschenburgers,” and for the traditional gourmands there’s a beef rump pot roast.

For backseat drivers: Albert Einstein worked here

In 1908, the Schottenhamel family commissioned Gabriel von Seidl to build a beer castle for 8,000 guests. It was the very first Oktoberfest tent to have electric lighting instead of candles. The technology was supervised by the Augsburg company J. Einstein. Back then, the boss’ nephew also helped as a holiday employee with Albert Einstein, 17 years old. The later inventor of the theory of relativity screwed numerous light bulbs into the Schottenhamel tent as an auxiliary electrician.

Schottenhamel-Festhalle: Reservation, Seats, Music, Beer and Contact