Please enjoy this guest post courtesy of Harry Parsons from Arcadia Publishing.
Germany isn’t the only country that looks forward to Oktoberfest every year. It’s just as popular here in America, and it’s not hard to see why. To begin with, many Americans are of German descent themselves. Also, what red-blooded American doesn’t love a good reason to eat fantastic food, drink delicious brews of all kinds, and celebrate life in excellent company?
Even so, not all Oktoberfest celebrations are necessarily created equally, and you don’t need to shell out the cash for a plane ticket to Munich to experience a great one. The following are just a few of the most epic Oktoberfest celebrations that take place every year right here in the United States of America. Some might say they’re so exceptional that they are worth traveling for! Consider adding one or more to your end-of-summer to-do list if you’re still deciding where and how to celebrate this year.
1. Wurstfest (November 4th – 13th)
If you live in the Austin, Texas area (or are planning to be there this November), you really might want to consider giving Wurstfest a gander. This is no modest weekend celebration, by any means. It’s a full 10-day festival that celebrates Bavarian culture in all the best ways. Family friendly activities include multiple carnival rides, a polka competition, and plenty of live music. Sample Bavarian fare to please any palate, and drink your fill of plenty of different beers as well.
Also, you should know that the entire town of New Braunfels magically transforms into a different place during those ten days, so don’t just limit yourself to the festival grounds. Enjoy special wurst-themed comedy performances at the Circle Arts Theatre. Check out Kunstalle as well, which is a seasonal arts and crafts market that sets up shop right next to Wurstfest itself.
2. St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest (September 23rd – 25th)
Chicago is already well known for its long-standing ties to beer, brewing, and all things German, thanks to the high numbers of German-American citizens who have called it home over the years. That said, it’s probably not surprising to learn that it’s also home to more than 25 different Oktoberfest celebrations over the months of September and October.
However, the St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest really stands out for taking place in and around the historic Lakeview church for which it’s named. Are you a craft brew enthusiast? You won’t want to miss Craft Beer Night, a golden opportunity to meet and greet more than 20 regional brewers, as well as sample their very best beers. Planning on bringing the little ones with you? You’ll love Kinderfest, a family friendly event complete with face painting, dance parties, and plenty of delicious German food that’s sure to please younger palates, as well as adult ones.
3. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (September 16th – 18th)
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati isn’t just one of the most famous American Oktoberfest celebrations. Over half a million people attend each and every year, so it’s also the largest one in the entire United States. Naturally, it’s the place to be if you feel Oktoberfest is all about the food. Enjoy best loved staples like real German bratwurst, sauerkraut balls, potato pancakes, strudel, pretzels, and – of course – a wide array of German and domestic beers.
The entertainment is also top-notch here. Take in some live music at any one of the seven stages you’ll find set up within the festival grounds. Watch a beer stein race featuring traditional German waitresses. Check out a real live barrel roll as well.
4. Oktoberfest by the Bay (September 23rd – 25th)
If you’re located on the west coast, then you’ll definitely want to consider making a trip to beautiful San Francisco for Oktoberfest by the Bay. It’s well known for its Old World ambiance and traditional feel. Plus, what could possibly make a cold beer and a perfectly salted pretzel taste better than a gorgeous ocean view from Pier 48?
Join an eclectic mix of festival goers from all walks of life in a toast to all things Bavarian. Enjoy the stylings of the locally based, 21-piece Chico Bavarian Band. Indulge in second helpings of all your favorite German dishes – everything from soft pretzels, to juicy sausages, to strudel. Don’t forget to join in the non-stop singing and dancing as well!
5. Oktoberfest Denver (September 23rd – 25th and September 30th – October 2nd)
Oktoberfest Denver isn’t quite the biggest celebration in the country, but it certainly comes close, with more than 350,000 people in attendance every year. Denver is also nothing if not a completely unique city with its own special vibe, so you can rest assured that their approach to Oktoberfest stands out as well.
For instance, there’s a variety of unique activities to be enjoyed. They include the incredible Stein Hoisting Competition, the Keg Bowling National Championship, and the Long Dog Derby (yes, an actual wiener dog race). That’s in addition to an abundance of cheerful traditional music, concerts from award-winning artists, mouth-watering German cuisine, and as much delicious beer as you could possibly hope for.
6. Leavenworth Oktoberfest (September 30th – October 1st, October 7th – 8th, and October 14th – 15th)
If you’re the type of person who wants your Oktoberfest experience to be as authentic as possible, then look no further than Washington’s Leavenworth Oktoberfest. Those who list it among their favorite celebrations describe it as the next best thing to celebrating in Munich itself.
Enjoy an impressively expansive selection of traditional German foods, a large collection of beers from around the world, and non-stop live music of all kinds (including traditional music from German bands flown in from the motherland). For those who can’t picture Oktoberfest without a good parade, there’s a wonderful one through the town each Saturday. Don’t forget to stick around for the mayor’s Keg Tapping Ceremony! It happens just after the parade and marks the official start to each weekend of the festival.
Of course, these are just a few of the many incredible Oktoberfest celebrations taking place all across the United States throughout the late summer and fall. Consider adding a few to your own itinerary or Oktoberfest bucket list!