Best 2017 Oktoberfests in North America
Oktoberfest began over 200 years ago in Munich, Germany when local residents celebrated a royal wedding. Today, Munich’s Oktoberfest attracts about 6 million people to the city for the multi-week festival. Featuring food, beer, music, rides, and games, Oktoberfest has become a worldwide celebration. While nothing can compare to the 18 days of Oktoberfest in Munich, cities around the world have put their own spin on the German “Volkfest.” The time for celebration is upon us, and this list details some of the best Oktoberfests in North America.
Oktoberfest by the Bay | San Francisco, CA | September 22-24
Located on the coast of the San Francisco Bay, Oktoberfest by the Bay features live music by The Chico Bavarian Band and the Internationals. Traditional Bavarian dancing takes place every few hours, helping attendees get lost in the true spirit of Oktoberfest. Since demand for the festival is so high, Saturday has two sessions: one from 11am-5pm and another from 6pm-midnight. So whether you’re a day person or a night owl, Oktober Fest by the Bay has an option for you. Food and drink fferings include pretzels, dinner plates, beer, and wine. Many festival-goers wear Trachten to help foster an authentic Bavarian atmosphere.
Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest | Ontario, Canada | October 6-14
The Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest is the largest Oktoberfest in North America. Drawing about 700,000 visitors over the span of 9 days, the festival is best known for its beer-based celebrations and major parade. The parade is held on Canadian Thanksgiving and attracts upwards of 150,000 people. Both the cities of Kitchener and Warerloo have histories rich with German roots, making the spot an ideal location for the festival.
Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest also offers live music, dancing, a 5K race, barrel race, pancake breakfast, and traditional Bavarian food. A Miss Oktoberfest is chosen by a panel of local applicants, while University Night provides all-night transportation to local students who want to join the celebration. The festival’s official mascot—Onkel Hans—has a mustache and sports traditional lederhosen.
Oktoberfest Denver | Denver, CO | September 22-23 & September 29-30
The 48th annual Oktoberfest Denver is scheduled to take place over two consecutive weekends in late September. With delicious food offerings that include bratwurst, turkey legs, pizza, warm pretzels, sauerkraut, and more, the festival has something for everyone. And of course, there’s plenty of beer to go around. Live music plays throughout a day, and a schedule of performers is available on Oktoberfest Denver’s website.
For festival-goers who crave a superior experience, Oktoberfest Denver offers VIP tickets. These packages include all you can eat and drink along with a free stein, T-shirt, and hat. In total, close to 350,000 people will make it out to the festival over its two weekends.
Wurstfest | New Braunfels, Texas | November 3-12
Located just outside San Antonio, the Wurstfest festival began in 1961 and attracts tens of thousands of people each year. A multitude of live musicians perform throughout the 10-day festival, and the beers available include German, Texan, and domestic varieties. Food trucks and a craft beer garden help ensure everyone has plenty of delicious food and thirst-quenching beverages. In addition to dancing, there are also games and carnival rides that provide fun for the whole family. If you’re feeling ambitious try the Bavarian Masskrustemmen challenge—which requires contestants to hold a liter of beer while maintaining an outstretched arm for as long as possible.
Reading Liederkranz Oktoberfest | Reading, PA | September 27 – October 1
The most popular Oktoberfest in the northeast, this festival boasts a comprehensive menu of Bavarian favorites. With a roast pork platter, bratwurst platter, goulash mit noodles, schnitzel dinner, and more, the Reading Liederkranz Oktoberfest provides attendees with an authentic food experience. Family entertainment includes magic, juggling, balloon animals, and ventriloquism, while musical entertainment features both accordion artists and full bands.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati | Cincinnati, OH | September 15-17
No list would be complete without mentioning Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, which is the largest Oktoberfest in the United States. Friday brings The Running of the Wieners, a must-see event that features 100 dachshunds racing against each other for wiener dog supremacy. Also on Friday are fun games like the beer stein race and the beer barrel roll. Opening Ceremonies on Saturday are followed by the keg tapping, and Sunday concludes with the World Brat Eating Championship and the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. In 1994, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati set the world record for largest chicken dance with an unbelievable 48,000 people—a record that still stands today.
Over 500,000 people routinely attend Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Unfortunately, this year’s event already took place from September 15 – September 17. On the bright side, there’s always next year.