09/16/2011 01:50 pm ET Updated Nov 16, 2011

Oktoberfest 2011: Get Thee To Munich!

It's Oktoberfest time again in Germany. Strap on your lederhosen and lace up that dirndl.

The Oktoberfest tradition began in October 1810 to celebrate the wedding of Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen to Prince Ludwig. The citizens of Munich took part in the celebrations that were held in a field outside the city gates — a location that would come to be known as Theresienwiese in honor of the princess. What started out as a small agricultural fair grew to encompass the beer halls at the end of the century.

But why is Oktoberfest in September? What kind of silliness is that? It seems locals wanted to get their party on a little earlier and for a little longer, so the festivities were extended into September to take advantage of the warmer weather.

From September 17 to October 3, the city of Munich will be alive with — or passed out in a gutter from — the world's biggest beer festival. Visitors should plan to get up bright and early. Beer serving times are from 10a.m. to 10:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

This year, a liter of beer will run between €8.70 and €9.20 ($12-$12.70). Water is a cool €7 ($9.60). Entry into the beer tents is free, and reservations are recommended but not required. Contact the tents directly to get a spot.

Traveling with kids? Children under the age of six must leave the beer tents by 8 p.m. Family days will be held September 20 and 27.

This year the festival will again feature a "nostalgic" Oktoberfest, that, for €3 ($4.10), offers a glimpse into historic celebrations with old rides, a traditional beer tent and a folklore singer.

Keep track of it all with the Oktoberfest iPhone App.