Guide to Oktoberfest for UK Hospitality Businesses

Oktoberfest, which falls between the 16th September and 3rd October this year, is a German beer festival with a long and rich history. First making its way onto the German calendar in the early 19th Century, it has since happily made its way across to other countries – who enjoy nothing more than joining in the beer-laden frivolity.

Now mainly associated with being a drinking festival, the event actually started out as an extended celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. Townsfolk were invited to join in the festivities with a feast, German brew and horse racing. Fast forward to today and it’s become a national – if not international – month of merriment celebrating Bavarian culture with lederhosen and good quality beers.

Never ones to shy away from a good party, the Brits have embraced the German custom with events being held up and down the country, especially in the country’s largest cities, including London, Manchester and Liverpool. As a hospitality business – especially a pub or beer-selling establishment – the festival offers a great opportunity to attract more customers and see a nice Autumnal boost to profits.

Below, we’ll take you through tips on capitalising on the Bavarian event as a hospitality business.

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How to make the most of Oktoberfest

Beer tasting

A great way to join in the Bier-celebrating festivities and encourage cross-selling of beverages is to offer customers a beer tasting experience. With a thorough description of each beer, its brewing method and grain, beer enthusiasts will flock to your establishment to try out new flavours and learn a little something about beer manufacturing. Just make sure you’re providing an optimal experience, with savant staff and a great selection of high-quality beers. Although not compulsory, you may wish to throw in a few German beers too for good measure.

Offering limited edition speciality German beer

With Oktoberfest on people’s radars, they may be more drawn to trying German beers than their usual brew. Consider adding a few interesting German beers to your offering to entice the adventurous, and don’t forget to advertise them via posters or on the menu to make sure people know about it.

Themed nights

Another great way to take advantage of the Oktoberfest frenzy is to put on a themed night. Serve a variety of German beers and add some schnitzel, wurst and apfelstrudel to the menu for the night. If you want to go all out, staff can even wear Lederhosen and Dirndl (the female equivalent). It’s advisable that you make this a ticketed event, offering an extra revenue channel on top of the sale of food and drinks.


To ensure people know about your special, Bavarian-themed offerings for Oktoberfest, make sure your marketing is on point. You may want to send out marketing emails to customers, letting them know what events or menu changes you’re planning as well as post across your social media channels.

Set up beer tents

If your pub or establishment has outdoor space, you may want to utilise it to mimic the classic Oktoberfest tent atmosphere. Although Munich tradition dictates there should be 14 tents in total, you only need a few to successfully capture the look. You may want to have each tent offer a different range of beers set around different themes and charge for entry into each tent for an extra income source. Consider getting hold of the iconic long tables typically used in Oktoberfest too to make the whole thing seem all the more authentic. And thanks to Square POS for Pubs and Bars and Register, you can take easily take payments contactless and chip and pin payments at the table and across your venues.

Provide entertainment

As much as people mainly come to enjoy the beer and drinking atmosphere, let’s not forget it’s also a festival and entertainment wouldn’t go amiss. Consider getting some local bands to play, dance groups to perform, or if you want bonus points for authenticity, bring on some folk players that know Bavarian tunes.


Finally, in order to create the right atmosphere you need to put up some Oktoberfest-themed decorations. Think bunting, German beer mats and posters. Typically, the colour scheme is blue and white – which are the colours of Bavaria – but since it’s Autumn, you can throw in some Autumnal colours too like orange and burgundy. Thinking outside of the box can also add extra intrigue and inspire a few laughs – think inflatable pretzels. Menus and signage should also be in a faux-mediaeval font for extra authenticity.

Oktoberfest can be a great time for pubs to pull out all the stops with special events and decor and in return significantly increase profits for a nice pre-Christmas boost.

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