Knowing the fun, games, food and beer of the traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from a ‘re-enactment’ in Abu Dhabi. But by all means, the organizers – du Forum, Crowne Plaza Yas Island and Spinneys – got it right, and it turned out to be an awesome party!
The event was held on the 10th and 11th October at the du Forum on Yas Island. Early bird tickets were 150 AED, including 60 AED worth of vouchers for food and drink; on the door tickets were 200 AED, including 85 AED of vouchers.
One entire side of the du Forum was taken up by a bar offering several varieties of the good Hofbräu hops brew served in Steins – that’s 1 L beer served in a large crystal or stoneware mug – and prices were on par with Oktoberfest in Munich, 1L Hofbräu costing 70 AED and 1L Oktoberfest Brew 80 AED; soft drinks were 15 AED. On the other side of the Forum the Crowne Plaza had set up an extensive food buffet serving generous portions of traditional German dishes – Pretzels, a salad bar, veal sausages (Weisswürste) with sauerkraut and crispy onions, sour roast (Sauerbraten) with mashed potatoes and cabbage, meat stew (Goulash) with cheese Spätzle, etc were all available for a good price (main course ~ 60-95 AED). Great effort by the chefs! There were no queues and the service at the bar, food buffet, and at the table was fast and friendly.
As is tradition at German beer fests, long wooden tables and benches lined the hall and strangers quickly turned into new friends. There was an outdoor seating area with two giang Jenga games and a small bar serving rum. Germans, Dirndls and Lederhosen were well represented and a traditional Bavarian band was playing well-known German drinking songs and some pretty impressive cow bell music. Once the music started it only took a few minutes for the crowd to give in to the band’s requests to stand on the benches to sing and dance along.
We went on the 10th October, arriving at 7pm, just one hour after the doors opened. Within 30 minutes we had occupied a long bench with our friends, were singing and dancing, and the table service kept the beer flowing. As the evening progressed, people went from dancing on the benches to dancing on the tables, to falling back onto the floor, but the atmosphere was great and everyone was having a good time. Being the only sober on in the group had several benefits: I remember everything, and no one remembers me getting dragged on stage to do a silly airplane dance with the band…
Once the band finished a DJ came on and the dancing continued. By 2am, the last ones standing from our group were the Scotsman and we two. We’re still not quite sure when and where everyone else disappeared to – the American was last seen walking to the toilets (turns out he had fallen off a fence, knocked himself out and then taxi’d home), the Pom had taken an impressive fall off a bench and must have crawled home, and the Kiwi was probably abducted by one of the ladies he had been wooing with his impressive dance moves and his Lederhosen. It had been a great night out, but we had definitely done enough dancing and drinking, so we left the Forum to the last handful of people, and the Scotsman, who still stood in the middle of the hall, swinging his hips, drinking from yet another Stein. We heard he made it home at 3am.
Who thought Oktoberfest in the desert could be so much fun.