Nothing quite lights up an event like the energy of a live oompah band.
Originating from the hills of rural Bavaria, these traditional German folk groups have recently taken off across the UK and are a great addition to any private party, public event, or German-themed jolly.
In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you could possibly want to know about oompah bands and how to book them.
At Encore, we’ve helped thousands of event planners find the perfect performers for their events and regularly take bookings for oompah bands. If you’re ready to book one now, feel free to check out our selection here.
How to hire an Oompah band
What is an oompah band?
When people talk about an oompah band, usually they’re thinking of a Bavarian-style brass band which performs Volkstümliche Musik (literally German for “folksy music”) at German-themed events. The “oompah” name comes from the sound of the plodding bassline you’ll hear played on an instrument like a double bass or tuba in a group.
Have a listen out for the oompah bass line played on the tuba around 30 seconds into this tune by the Jager Maestros:
What line-ups do oompah bands come in?
A typical oom-pah band will have somewhere between 3 to 10 members, including a mixture of melody instruments like trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and an accordion, drummer and tuba providing the rhythmic backing.
The typical line-ups for oompah bands are:
- 4-piece: clarinet, trumpet, trombone, and tuba. This is the standard oompah band line-up and will be enough to get the room dancing.
- 5-piece or 6-piece: all the instruments of a 4-piece plus a drummer and/or accordionist. This line-up is perfect for outdoor performances or outdoor performances where you want a louder, more energetic atmosphere.
- 7-piece or 8-piece: all the above with the addition of a front man to leading the revelry. If you’re planning a large beer hall-style event, you’ll want to consider adding in a front man to get the crowd going and teach them drinking songs.
However, bands are often flexible and can provide bespoke groups to suit your needs, such as:
- 3-piece: trumpet, trombone, and tuba. Though not as traditional and much quieter than a standard oompah band line-up, a 3-piece group could work if your venue size or budget don’t allow for a full band.
- 8+ members: if you really want to fill your event with music, most bands will have a network of oompah performers which they can call upon if you want to increase the size of the group.
Ben from Encore the oompah band Jager Maestros says:
“The option we get booked for the most is the 8-piece which is a 6-piece brass section, drums and a dedicated front man.”
And Danny from the Encore oompah band Deutsch Blasmusik says:
“The quintessential sound for this music is the clarinet and the tuba. Our most popular line-up is the 5-piece band of clarinet, trumpet or sax, trombone, tuba or sousaphone, and drums. This year we’ve added an accordion to our ranks as well as some of our clients had expressed an interested in this.”
Jager Maestros offer a large band format
What events do oompah bands perform at?
When it comes to booking an oompah band, the event most people have on their mind is Oktoberfest – the annual Munich-based beer festival.
Famous for its giant litre-capacity ‘stein’ beer glasses and it’s raucous parties, the festival has spread like wildfire on across Europe. Come September, oompah bands across Europe will be booked up Oktoberfest-themed events.
Sam from Jager Maestros says:
“At an Oktoberfest event, people are out to have a good time and want to be entertained. Even the best beer hall can only keep people occupied for a certain length of time before they look to move on. Putting on live music keeps people entertained and having a good time for much longer. This can only have a positive influence on your bottom line.”
Swap their lederhosen for some less culturally-specific garments, and oompah bands become a great addition to other event types – particularly if they are outdoors. They’re a great choice if you’re planning a:
- Outdoor/festival-themed wedding
- Open air charity gala
- Corporate Christmas party
- Corporate summer party
- Pub or bar event
Oompah Band Equipment & Setup
How much space does an oompah band need?
Most oompah bands will be acoustic meaning they can fit into smaller spaces than an amplified band which needs mains access and space for speakers. As a general guide, allow roughly 1.5m2 per performer.
Does an oompah band need a PA system?
Most oompah bands are self-contained, so you don’t need to worry about providing equipment. However, some do require amplification so this is always worth checking when you’re in communication with your band.
Do I need to provide food?
Unless stated in the bands contract, there’s no obligation for you to provide food for a band. However, if there is food available at the event, a band will always appreciate the offer of a solid meal particularly if they’ve travelled far to get to the location. We’d always recommend at least providing some light refreshment like a drink or snack to your group as a gesture of goodwill.
Can the band play outside?
Yes! With loud, portable acoustic brass instruments an oompah band is a perfect choice if you’re looking for outdoor entertainment.
What dress code can I expect?
Think Bavarian dress – if you’re imagining a lonely alpine shepherd dressed in lederhosen you’re not far off the typical dress for an oompah band. Most oompah bands will be able to come dressed in traditional Bavarian folk outfits or tracht. For men that usually means lederhosen the leather breeches and for women traditional Bavarian dress is referred to as dirndl .
How long can an oompah band perform for?
An oompah band will typically perform up to three sets of 45 minutes with breaks in between. Sets of longer than 3 hours are very unusual. Every band has their own standard timings, so it’s always best to check with them first.
How much setup time does an oompah band need?
Most oompah bands are acoustic so require very little setup time – 30 minutes should be enough. If the band is using amplification, you’ll need to allow time for a proper soundcheck before the event – this might take somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour.
Do they need parking spaces?
If the band is travelling by car, you should try to provide a parking option as close to the venue as possible. Larger instruments like tubas or accordions can be heavy to carry – you want to be saving your band’s energy for getting your guests dancing!
Can oompah bands move around while performing?
Yes! Oompah bands have their routes in marching bands so are perfectly suited to performing mobile entertainment.
What are the most popular pieces for oompah bands?
Oompah bands will usually perform a mixture of traditional Bavarian oompah songs and pop covers. Bands will often provide a front man who’ll interact with the audience.
Danny from Deutsch Blasmusik says:
“We teach traditional dances and toasts as we go along so even people with no idea about what happens at an Oktoberfest get caught up in the action! The interaction literally makes it into a great night – it isn’t often you can make your friends put their yodelling skills to the test in front of a live audience.”
Traditional German drinking songs
Ein Prosit (A Toast)
Eselleid (The Donkey Song)
London Street Band perform a mixture of Ein Prosit and covers
Schalger music (German easy listening pop)
Jtzt gehts Los!
Trink mer noch a Tropfche
A typical drinking song performed by Deutsch Blasmusik
Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamonds
Angels – Robbie Williams
Mr Brightside – The Killers
Livin on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
Titanium – David Guetta
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Ben from Jager Maestros says;
“All crowds like the drinking song ‘Ein Prosit’ which we always teach to crowds to get them on their feet singing and drinking. Audience participation games like the ‘Music Man’s and the ‘Dam Busters’ are always very popular. Probably our most requested song that always brings the house down is our arrangement of Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody!”
Ask your Oompah band to perform pop covers if you’re looking for a less traditional Oktoberfest event
Can an oompah band play my favourite song?
Yes! Most oompah bands will be happy to take requests with you contact them in advance of your event. You should bear in mind though that they excel at fast, upbeat music rather than slow, smoochy numbers.
Booking an Oompah band
How far in advance should I book?
If you are booking a band for popular occasions like Oktoberfest or a Christmas party, you should aim to have the band booked in at least a month or two in advance. The later you leave it, the more likely the band is to get booked up.
Remember, most bands will only reserve a date in their diary after you have paid a deposit.
What’s the typical price for a oompah band?
The price will vary depending on how far the band has to travel, the line-up of the oompah band, and the time of the year (some bands may charge more during peak season). It’s always worth getting a bespoke quote, but here is a rough guide for a 1-hour set:
- 4-piece: £700
- 5-piece: £850
- 6-piece: £1000
Do I have to pay travel fees?
Yes, unless you are booking a local band, it’s like the band will charge travel expenses. For a typical band of five members, this would probably be somewhere between £50-£100.
How do I handle contracts and payment?
The easiest way to pay your musician is to book through Encore. On Encore we take payment through our secure payment system and release it to the musician 24 hours after the event, so you don’t have to worry about cash on the day.
Who are the top 5 oompah bands?
The most frequently booked oompah bands on Encore are: