by - October 13, 2017

Last year brought German’s Oktoberfest to Cornwall for the very first time…

So many people were raving about last year’s Cornish take on Oktoberfest, and it sounded like a brilliantly bustling evening. My work friends and I decided that we just had to book a table and see what the fuss was all about. Expensive table booked and we immediately began the search for the perfect lederhosen – if you’re going to go, you have to make an effort, right?!

We booked a table for 12, costing an incredible £240 + £10 booking fee. This should probably have set alarm bells ringing already, but as booking a table claimed to also provide two free beers/ciders/ales each and night-long table service we thought we would give it a go.

After a long and excited week’s wait for Oktoberfest to roll around, and reading through the lengthy list of rules (once you were in the tent, you were in the tent, no leaving unless you were leaving for good… and disappointingly no dancing on the tables – boo hoo!), the Friday night finally arrived. Donned in our fabulous array of lederhosen we made the short but amusing walk from our office over to the Oktoberfest marquee right in the heart of Cornwall’s main city – Truro.

Though no individual tickets were provided, meaning that we all had to arrive precisely at the same time together, we didn’t have any difficulty in getting in – though one of our team would be joining us an hour later. Thankfully this was no problem for the doormen, and so in we went and our server for the evening seating us at our table… funnily enough, not the table we had chosen on the website when we booked. But oh well! Our free pitchers of authentic and imported German beer were on the way and we were already reading through the printed suggestions of drinking games to play throughout the evening.

Another authentic, a food stall with plenty of coal-fired bratwurst, sauerkraut, currywurst, and chips was available outside (but within the perimeter of the Oktoberfest, don’t forget – once you’re in, you’re in). Due to this little rule the food stall could naturally charge whatever they pleased, and at £4-£6 for a German sausage in a bun they really were charging the earth. Ok, ok, authenticity, I guess. Anyway, they were pretty decent bratwursts.

Team fed and the beer drinking and well-mannered drinking games began. It took some time for the atmosphere to build as lots of people didn’t arrive for hours, we were clearly overly keen to get going. The long tables were mostly joined, and laid out in endless rows, which made for good fun once the night built up. Our neighbouring table were fairly energetic and we made new friends almost immediately.

Crowd building, lights dimmed, and the live German oompah band finally started playing. They were getting everybody involved with lots of standing up, sitting down, swaying back and forth, it was great fun – the boys in our team getting a little too lively and spilling far more beer than they drank all evening.

The night was going well, the bands were really building the excitement. All of us had purchased our own Stein glasses from the event hosts to use throughout the evening, and these, mixed with our lederhosen choices, really did add to the ambience of the night. So far so good.

Unfortunately we began to struggle to get any table service; some of the boys in our group eventually gave up and went to the bar themselves. Not what you want when you’ve paid a pretty hefty table fee, a little disappointing. The bar however was brilliant, they had plenty of servers pouring drinks and so we had no trouble in being served and getting our pitchers of beer back to our tables. Eventually our table server re-surfaced and we decided to top up whilst we had the chance.

Drinks were just as pricey as the food, imported or not imported. At a whopping £4.20 a pint, or double that for a Stein, we ended up buying in bulk as pitchers (four pints worth) seemed a better deal. These prices may suit for London or larger cities, but in Cornwall we’re still graced with cheaper drinks.

As the night drew on the dancing commenced and so naturally we headed off for a jig, Steins in hand. Sadly we’d already shipped the youngest of our group off home, poor fella, he and drinks don’t seem to mix – we’ll have to remember that for the Christmas party, water for one! Though we didn’t send him home without some incredibly embarrassing candid shots and a call to his mum. England being England there definitely wasn’t a lot of the German culture of a real Oktoberfest, but everyone was in good spirits.

If it wasn’t for the band it would have literally just been a group of people paying to drink pricey beers in a random marquee. There were no real decorations, nothing that really screamed ‘Oktoberfest’. If the majority of attendees hadn’t been in lederhosen then you wouldn’t have thought of the evening as being anything other than a night out. Even the servers and bar guys weren’t dressed in anything more than the odd checked lumberjack-esque shirt.  At least our team had made a fabulous effort!

Unfortunately one of our group ended up having an accident on the dance floor. Sad, but true, one of our girls limped bleeding back to our table where we were left to clean her up on our own. We did find someone who worked at the event, and, after she double checked with her manager, advised us that she couldn’t provide us with a first aid kit because it was locked away in a van that no-one seemed to have access to. Being a trained first aider and a previous Event Co-ordinator I know very well that any event should at least have access to a first aid kit and a first aider – in fact, for the number of people they had on site (if memory serves) a paramedic crew should have been available… not that we were that desperate. It was safe to say that we weren’t overly impressed (especially our girl bleeding away at our table), but we muddled through. Oh well, accidents happen. Hopefully the event holders were far more prepared for the next night.

It was nearing the end of the scheduled Oktoberfest, and accident still fresh in our minds we decided to make our way back over the food stall to fill up on more German goodies before heading home for the evening. Foolishly we left our table unattended, and when we returned 9 of our Stein glasses had vanished. All of which we’d paid the price of one drink for (don’t forget, that’s £4.20). This also meant that all of our drinks had vanished too (again, pricey). By this point we were a little fed up and so decided to just leave, and that we’d deal with the missing paid-for glasses first thing Monday morning.

Hello Monday. I sent a message to the hosts of the event via their Facebook page explaining the problems we’d encountered during the night but mostly that our paid-for glasses had all been cleared away from our tables – beers and all. The event read my message but never replied, this resulted with me politely prompting them before they messaged back with a “sorry, we’re so busy with the clear-down of the event” and a “someone will get back to you as soon as we can”. Ok, no problem, it was a busy two nights. However, that was now a week ago, and I’m still waiting. For a £240 table + £10 booking fee, as well as £4.20 x 9 missing Stein glasses (not to mention the pricey beers they still housed), that’s one expensive bust of a night.

Luckily we made it a good 8.5 hours on our own, and we had plenty of fun stories to tell back in the office on Monday morning. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be returning next year, I could’ve put the money I spent towards a trip to Munich’s original Oktoberfest. Now that would be a fabulous experience. If your city hosts its own Oktoberfest, comment below and let me know if it far outshines Cornwall’s attempt.

Claudia xo

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  1. I didn't know about this! But from what you've said, it might be worth just going to the original one in Germany, it's definitely on my bucket list. Mainly because I want to wear the outfit!

    1. I heard about it last year, but was far too busy cocktailing it up on the same weekend, so thought I'd try it this year. Seems I missed the one and only triumph year. The real deal is definitely on my bucket list too (the outfits are so great!!)

      Claudia xo