Now that you have your Dirndl and know a few customs and traditions regarding Oktoberfest, the next step to Wiesn-it out like a local is to learn a few of the most popular songs people sing out loud inside the tents. Oktoberfest is about much more than just large quantities of beer and chicken — it’s about singing and dancing… at least all the dancing you can do standing on a bench with thousands of other people who’ve been drinking beer since 10 am!
During the day on weekdays, many tents stick to the traditional oompah music, with a few crowd favorites thrown in. Hiwever, in the evenings and on weekends party bands take to the stage and the crowd sing along. A few of the songs have gestures everyone knows… And really, there’s nothing quite like being surrounded by a few thousand people dancing to Fliegerlied! So, in the spirit of helping you blend in, here are the songs you must know (or at least try to practice beforehand).
Top 10 Oktoberfest songs to learn (with videos)
1. Ein Prosit
If you learn one song, learn this one! You will hear it repeatedly, since it’s the classic Oktoberfest drinking song. When the band starts it up, everyone raises their Maß, sings along, and toasts each other at the end with a big, “Prost!” or, “Zum Wohl!” (of course, ensuring to make eye contact while doing so).
This is one of the most fun Oktoberfest songs, with silly motions and a catchy tune. It was originally a children’s song but has become a favourite of beer festivals, après ski, and anywhere that involves a band and drinks. The words and motions go well together and help you remember what comes next.
Und ich flieg, flieg, flieg wie ein Flieger (fly your arms like a bird or airplane)
Bin so stark, stark, stark wie ein Tiger (flex your arm to show your strength)
Und so groß, groß, groß wie ‘ne Giraffe (pump your arms to the ceiling to show being tall)
So hoch oh, oh, oh (wave your hands up high)
Und ich spring, spring, spring immer wieder (hold your hands in front and jump like a kangaroo)
Und ich schwimm, schwimm, schwimm zu dir über (swim your hands in front of you)
Und ich nehm, nehm, nehm dich bei der Hand, (shake or hold hands)
Weil ich dich mag, Und ich sag
Heut ist so ein schöner Tag
La-la-la-la-la (clap your hands and dance)
3. Sierra Madre
This is a slower song and most people don’t know the lyrics to the verses. They usually just link arms and sway from side to side and sing along to the chorus.
Another one where most people just sing along to the chorus and put their hands in the air.
Learn the chorus to this one because the crowd answers back at the end of each line.
Again, learn the chorus and sing back at the end of each line.
7. Viva Kolonia
This song has nothing to do with Oktoberfest but somehow it’s incredibly popular there. It’s about Cologne and the original version is meant to sound like it’s sung in a strong local dialect (it’s usually reworked to at least be in German). However, all the bands play it and everyone stumbles along until the chorus of “Viva Colonia” comes and they reach for the few words they know. Don’t feel bad, just go with the flow and learn the tune and the two most important words.
It seems almost everyone above a certain age in Germany knows the words to this classic Schlager hit. There’s nothing particularly Oktoberfest about this one, but everyone seems to enjoy it and they often link arms and sway together while singing.
Another Schlager classic that has stood the test of time.
Though it isn’t an old song, it’s in the traditional Bavarian beerhall style of music and is a popular drinking song about stereotypes about Bavaria.
Top 10 Oktoberfest Hits You Already Know
As Sarah mentions in her first-timer guide, there are some Wiesn hits that will surprise you. These are songs in English, which you probably already know and which are played often inside the tents. In case you want to brush up on your lyrics and hand motions, the 10 most popular English songs (well, at least famous in the English-speaking world) in Oktoberfest are:
- Country Roads (John Denver)
- Angels (Robbie Williams)
- Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)
- The Ketchup Song (Las Ketchup) and the Macarena (Los del Rio)
- Hey Baby (often DJ Ötzi’s cover)
- Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves)
- 99 Luftballons (Nena)
- Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams)
- Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
- YMCA (Village People)
So, now you’re ready to join the party and sing along like a local. Even better, many of these are also popular songs for après ski, so you will be off to a good start for winter parties!
If you’d like to see the full lyrics and rough translations of these and other Oktoberfest songs, you can check out my more detailed posts on the subject.
Anne Frazier Ahrens came to Munich as a single gal from Texas with a successful career in finance. A decade later, she’s still here… now a married, full-time mom to a daughter with Down Syndrome and a very full social calendar. Since trading investor meetings for coffee dates, she’s enjoying having more time to explore all that Munich has to offer – and continues her quest to visit all of Munich’s beer gardens.