Imagine going down to your local for a few brewskies, only to look over your shoulder and see the best football team in the world walk through the doors to join the party. Well, that's essentially what happens every year at Munich's Oktoberfest.
Win or lose the previous weekend, Bayern Munich's players and staff always make an appearance at the Wies'n, decked in traditional Bavarian attire, to soak up the atmosphere of the largest folk festival on the planet. They're even allowed to sink one or two litres of the gold stuff, aka beer…
What is Oktoberfest?
Held in honour of the wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in October 1810, the original Oktoberfest predates Bayern Munich's inauguration by some 90 years. Locals were invited to partake in five days of merriment, involving drinking, dancing, shooting displays and a horse race around the fields in front of the city gates.
Nowadays, the festivities last around two weeks, usually beginning in mid-September. Instead of horses, beer is now the star attraction. At least six million litres of 'liquid gold' are consumed in and around the tents at the Theresienwiese - or 'Wies'n' for short - the meadow where Prince Ludwig took Therese as his wife all those years ago. An estimated seven million revellers from all four corners of the globe make the annual pilgrimage.
The beer on offer hails exclusively from Munich breweries such as Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr and Paulaner. The standard tipple is the lager-style Helles - but be warned: beer is served in one-litre vessels (Maßkrug) only. As well as the local nectar, visitors can enjoy hearty Bavarian food, traditional music, games and fairground rides. There’s even a wine tent and a convivial cafe serving coffee, cake, pastries and… cocktails.
What are they wearing?
Now, if you've already been and you're still standing, you'll know that just about everyone who visits Oktoberfest dresses up in traditional Bavarian clothing.
For the ladies, that means Dirndl: an eye-popping ensemble comprising a skirt, apron and tight bodice. For the guys, it's Lederhosen (literally, 'leather trousers'): tailor-made leather shorts and braces, typically paired with a button-up shirt.
So while it's not obligatory, you might feel a touch out of place if you don't embrace the local customs and get fully kitted out.
Can I really see James Rodriguez at Oktoberfest?
You betcha! Every year – without fail - the Bayern team don their finest Lederhosen and head down to the Wies'n to celebrate Oktoberfest. And no, it’s not a PR stunt. Bayern are inextricably linked with the local community, in a way that few football clubs are. Imagine Manchester City flocking to Pride or Chelsea painting the town red at Notting Hill – it just doesn't happen!
That's not to say Bayern overindulge on the sauce, but they do embrace the tradition. The club was founded over a beer at the Munich city centre restaurant 'Gisela' in February 1900, after all.
"It's a bit strange for me, Oktoberfest is a mythical party, but I think it's another culture and every day I learn a lot of things," James admitted after being shown the ropes inside the Käfer Wiesenschänke tent on his first visit to the festival in September 2017. "They drink a lot of beer, like five litres."