Oktoberfest events unfold every harvest season in villages and communities in the Old World and the New. The first and the biggest Oktoberfest happens in the German town of Munich, the heart of Bavaria, known for its free flowing beer, tasty food and distinctive costumes. But you don’t need a passport to celebrate Oktoberfest once harvest times rolls around. As long as you’re ready for some fun, chances are good that an Oktoberfest party is happening near you.
Besides the original, Oktoberfest events happen in cities throughout the world—many with German roots and plenty of others that want to join in the fun. Besides community festivals, Oktoberfest celebrations happen at restaurants, breweries, senior centers, schools and other places that hold events during September and October.
It may seem strange that Oktoberfest celebrations begin September, but the first Oktoberfest was held on October 12 in honor of a wedding. The date was eventually moved up to accommodate the weather. Little did Prince Ludwig and his bride, Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, know that their nuptial celebration would turn into a centuries-long annual tradition with millions of revelers each year and even more steins of beer. Oktoberfest history begins with a parade held in honor of the royal couple and quickly grew into a harvest festival, celebration of Bavarian heritage and showcase of local crafts, especially the brewing arts.
When Bavarian immigrants flocked to the New World, they brought their heritage with them to their new homelands. Cities like Leavenworth, Washington, and Frankenmuth, Michigan, bear many hallmarks of the Alpine homeland, as seen in the architecture, food, and festivals. For three weekends in September, the Leavenworth Oktoberfest is one of the best places on the West coast to sample German heritage.
Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest
The community of Kitchener-Waterloo, settled by German Mennonites, held the first Oktoberfest in the 1960s, starting the festival as a nod to the local heritage and as a fun way to bring the community together. Kitchener-Waterloo is currently the largest Oktoberfest festival in North America. For nine days, this festival kicks up its heals with beer, food, dancing, and cultural events. One of the biggest events here is a parade that doubles as Canada's Thanksgiving Parade and it is broadcast nationwide.
California Oktoberfest Events
California Oktoberfest Events
When visiting the Golden State in September and October, you’ll have many chances to hang out with those famous Oktoberfest girls and guys. Huntington Beach hosts a big Oktoberfest celebration at its Old World Village, a charming arts, dining, and entertainment district. The celebration of food, beer and fun plays out for nearly all of September and October, offering plenty of chances to sample some wiener schnitzel and imported beers.
Other California Oktoberfest events take place in Torrance, at Alpine Village. The coastal California community of Carlsbad has a community-wide Oktoberfest celebration that features tasty pastries, live music, and plenty of fun.
San Francisco’s Oktoberfest by the Bay got so popular in its first ten years that it outgrew the original venue. It’s now held on Pier 48, with plenty of room to dance, dine and sample the brews. This event takes place on the last weekend in September, with the chill of fall in the air.
St. Peter’s Village Oktoberfest
Moving to the east, the town of St. Peter’s, Pennsylvania, hosts a celebration that would make Munich proud. The local brewers show off their best vintages, while gourmet chefs put their spin on traditional favorites. As you’d expect for Oktoberfest events, St. Peter’s harvest festival includes live music sure to get your toes tapping to help you get your oom-pah on.
Image: digital cat (flickr)