What CAN you say to someone who’s never sampled the delights before? How can you convey a sense of that vibrant, happy party atmosphere which awaits returning friends and newcomers alike? Words and website pictures can only go so far – you have to walk through those gates yourself and leave the outside world behind for a few fun-filled hours to truly know what it means.
My first time was in 2012 – and I’m sorry only that it took me so long to get around to doing it. Walking from Gregory Terrace into the Showgrounds, and hearing the music and the buzz of the crowd get louder as I approached only sharpened my anticipation. The heady aroma from the multitude of food stalls wafting through the evening air was deliciously to die-for, and it seemed like I wasn’t the only one walking more briskly approaching the gates.
Ticket sorted, wrist-band on – and a word from the friendly gate staff that I could get a stamp out and then come and go as I wished – and I was in. Greeted by the spectacle of the huge illuminated Oktoberfest Brisbane tent behind a fairy-tale wonderland of coloured lights strung through the trees and above the outdoor seats and benches, I had to pause (literally) for a moment and pinch myself (not quite literally) – this is Brisbane with its beautiful Spring evening sky; I’m standing in the Showgrounds at Bowen Hills – not Theresienwiese in Munich!
Where to turn first? Options abounded: lots of whizzing rides, flashing lights and excited voices that way, flanks of brightly-lit tents and enticing stalls over there (okay, stomach, your turn is coming!), but it was a no-brainer – everyone was gravitating towards that magnificent central tent. Making our way through circling currents of laughing people clutching Brezels and Bratwurst (stomach, I’m not going to tell you again!) all we new arrivals found our way to the giant structure’s many entrances.
Readers of a certain age might remember the days of department store windows decked-out in elaborate German Christmas decorations, yes? Well, it was like walking into one of those windows. Only more. An absolute full-on, delectable assault on the senses: lights, music, decorations, foods, crowds of conversation – and music, did I mention the music? (I can’t, to be honest, recall whether it was dancing, yodelling, cow-bells, or good ol’ oom-pa-pah – it felt like the night had it all – and it probably did, at different times.)
I’m standing in a gigantic blue-and-white decorated tent that could comfortably accommodate a Boeing 737 (or two). Above me is a breathtaking array of streamers and Bavarian bunting (how long did all that take to hang?) accented by massive 3m-wide wreaths (yes, just like a German Christmas!). Right in front, directly across the wooden dancefloor (exactly like in Munich, you’re kidding?!), is a stage which is barely visible beyond the crowd of bopping heads and hats and waving arms. Can’t quite see who’s actually on stage – they all seem to be performers even if they’re not in the band! – but the lights are flashing off lots of polished, sparkling musical instruments.
On the right must be where the drinks are because, threading through the dancefloor throngs are people heading one way with their purchased drink tickets, mingling with and passing people coming the other way, heading back to their tables with a couple of foaming steins each. (I certainly wouldn’t be spilling a drop of that specially-brewed amber fluid!)
But to the left is my destination for, on my first time, I was lucky enough to be a guest of one of the Bavarian VIP tables. Spanning the width of this fabulous tent is the ornate wooden balustrading of the elevated Bayrisches Eck – the Bavarian Corner – backdropped by a jaw-dropping panoramic landscape that leaves you momentarily breathless: are you absolutely sure you’re not looking out from a window in that magical castle Neuschwanstein …?
Alright, stomach, alright! Would you readers please excuse me? I’ll tell you more about my first time in another post, but want to leave you with just one tip for now: if you haven’t booked your own Oktoberfest Brisbane Bavarian VIP table yet, you’ll want to make sure you’re really, really good mates with someone who has!
Bis bald, Tschuess!