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There are 14 large tents on the Oktoberfest grounds, as well as some 20 smaller ones, and although the larger ones can hold more than 9,000 people, sometimes it can still be hard to find a seat. And the rule at Oktoberfest is that without a seat, you won’t be served.

It is possible to reserve spots inside a tent, but most reservations are long gone. So you can either try getting to the fest grounds early before the tents open, settling for one of the outside beer gardens where seating turns over more quickly, or snagging a reservation through a buy-or-trade website, such as www.toytown germany.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=77962.

Each tent has its own atmosphere and a slightly different clientele, so read up to see which is your first choice. If you really like it, you might try to get reservations for next year. Generally there is no charge for reservations, but they typically must be made for large groups with individuals buying vouchers for a set amount of food and drink.

Here are some basics about each tent, gathered from websites. For more information, check out the official Oktoberfest site, www.oktoberfest.de/en.

• Hofbräu Festhalle: Operated by the world-famous Hofbräuhaus, this tent is the most popular among tourists and is where you’ll find the greatest percentage of English-speaking visitors. Bavarian specialties are served at reasonable prices and the Hofbräu’s own beer is served. About 6,900 seats are available inside and an additional 3,022 are outside in the beer garden. Reservations through the Hofbräu Oktoberfest website, www.hb-festzelt.de.

• Winzerer Fähnd’l: The theme at this tent is “a toast to Gemütlichkeit,” a relaxed, fun feeling. Singing along with the band is encouraged and lots of people dance on the tables. Seating for 8,450 is available inside the tent and another 2,450 seats are outside. Paulaner beers are served. For reservations, call 089-6217-1910.

• Schottenhamel: This is where the festivities are kicked off each year when the lord mayor of Munich taps the first keg at noon on opening day. Schottenhamel is one of the most popular with Munich’s young people. There are 6,000 seats inside and 4,000 outside. Späten Franzikaner Bräu is the beer of choice. For reservations, call 089-5446-9310.

• Augustiner Festhalle: The Augustiner tent is considered the friendliest place at Oktoberfest, and is the most family-friendly as well. Tuesday is kids day, with reduced prices to make things easier on families. There is room for 6,000 inside and 2,500 outside. Augustiner beer is served. Get reservations by calling 089-2318-3266.

• Käfer Wiesn-Schänke: Popular with celebrities, this cozy tent is well known for its delicious food and famous patrons. It’s also one of the only tents open past midnight. With only 1,000 seats inside and 1,900 outside, the Käfer is one of the smallest tents at Oktoberfest. Paulaner beer is served. For reservations, call 089-416-8356.

• Hippodrom: This tent is popular with Munich’s younger crowd. There’s a stylish champagne bar that makes it the most popular place at Oktoberfest for singles to meet and flirt, and one of the first places celebrities come to when they visit Oktoberfest. There are seats for 3,200 inside and 1,000 outside. Spaten-Fransikaner Brau beers are served. Call 089-2916-4646 for reservations.

• Schützen Festzelt: This tent is known for its traditional Bavarian roast suckling pig, served with malt beer sauce and warm potato salad. There are 5,440 seats, and the popular Die Niederalmer band is scheduled to perform. Call 089-2318-1224 for reservations.

• Weinzelt: The spotlight at this tent is the extensive wine list, rather than beer, although Augustiner Weissbier is served. Three bands take turns playing to ensure that the music never stops. There are 1,300 seats inside and an additional 600 outside. For reservations, see www.weinzelt.com; an English version is available.

• Hacker: The theme at the Hacker tent is “Bavarian Heaven,” and the atmosphere lives up to the name. The ceiling is painted to look like a starry sky and in a departure from tradition, a rock-n-roll band will perform daily starting at 5:30 p.m. There are 9,300 seats in the Hacker tent and Hacker-Pschorr beer is served. Call 08170-7303 for reservations.

• Ochsenbraterei: The name means “oxen roaster,” and when you enter and see a massive whole ox roasting on a spit, you’ll understand why. The kitchen prepares an astounding number of dishes from ox meat and the crowd parties hard, singing and dancing to a brass band. There are 5,900 seats inside and 1,500 outside. Spaten beers are served. Call 089-3838-7312 or see www.ochsenbraterei.de to learn how to order reservations by mail.

• Löwenbräu: The famous Löwenbräu lion guards the entrance of this popular tent, where fans of Munich soccer tend to gather. The crowd is fairly raucous and noisy, so if loud crowds are not your thing, find a different tent. There are 5,700 seats inside and 2,800 outside. Löwenbräu beer is served. For reservations, call 089-47-7677.

• Armbrustschützen: This archery-themed tent is popular with sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike and hosts an annual archery competition. The menu consists of Bavarian specialties and Paulaner beer. The tent holds 5,830 inside and 1,600 outside. Call 089-2370-3703 to make reservations.

• Bräurosl: This tent has been operated at Oktoberfest by the Heide family for seven generations. Entertainment is a priority at the tent, and a resident yodeler performs most of the day. When the yodeler is on break, either the Ludwig Thoma-Musicians or the South Tyrol Spitzbuam band takes over. The tent seats 6,220 inside and an additional 2,200 outside. Hacker-Pschorr beers are on tap here. Reservations by calling 089-8955-6353.

• Fischer Vroni: If the usual Bavarian pork dishes are not to your liking, try this tent, which serves all types of fish. The famous dish to try here is fish grilled on a stick. The hall seats 2,695 people inside and 700 outside. Paulaner beers are served. Beware: If you don’t like the smell of fish, you might have a hard time staying in this tent all day. Get reservations by calling 089-66-1042.

For a comprehensive list of the smaller tents, go to www.oktoberfest.de/en/ressort/Small+tents.

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