Where to Celebrate Oktoberfest Around the World Slideshow
September 19, 2011
One of the most famous events in Germany, Oktoberfest is anticipated all year by locals and visitors alike (more than 6 million visitors are projected to attend this year). Perhaps that's why it lasts more than two weeks. The mayor kicked this year's festival off in Munich on September 17 by tapping the first official keg and thus commencing all the iconic Bavarian activities on offer, like traditional costume parades, big-brass concerts, jam-packed beer tents, and classic foods. Pretzel and beer stein in hand, it won't matter if you've donned those lederhosen or not.
Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Canada
Canada's annual homage to Oktoberfest, the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest (also called Canadas Greatest Bavarian Festival) is a nine-day celebration with beer, live entertainment, and even the official Canadian Thanksgiving Parade. Drawing roughly one million revelers each year, the twin city-hosts fill the calendar with authentic Bavarian and Oktoberfest-inspired events like a Miss Oktoberfest Ball, traditional "festhallen," and Stein and Dine, a multi-course dinner with beer pairings.
Blumenau, originally founded as a German colony in Brazil in the mid-1800s, is home to one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany. Now in its 28th year, Oktoberfest Blumenau is the real thing, which should come as no surprise considering this country also goes all out for Carnival. Bavarian foods, biergartens serving local brews, classic Oktoberfest souvenirs, and Brazilian music come together for 17 days of traditional German fun in Brazil.
The U.S. hosts more Oktoberfests big and small than any other country outside of Germany. The largest is held in Cincinnati (er, Zinzinnati). Stretching over one jam-packed weekend of Bavarian entertainment, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati not only pays homage to the festival's home country, but to the rich German culture of the region. Festival goers dine on classic cream puffs, potato pancakes, and sauerkraut, with more than 800 barrels of beer, from Erdinger to Budweiser and from the festival's sponsor, Sam Adams, to Spaten, on hand to go alongside it all.
Oktoberfest in Brisbane, Australia
Even further afield, Brisbane's Oktoberfest spans two weekends in October and is one of Australia's largest and most authentic versions of the Bavarian fest. Much like the festival in Munich, the food and drink activities are held on long communal benches in tents with that classic white and blue check print where German sausages, Bavarian pastries, and freshly baked pretzels are washed down with, what else, German beers.
Oktoberfest by the Bay, San Francisco
For one long weekend, San Francisco's waterfront is transformed from the laidback California coast to the Oktoberfest by the Bay, a hopping Bavarian beer festival complete with live oompah music, dancing, and traditional food and drink offerings. Come dressed to impress — they encourage lederhosen!
Drawing just under 500,000 German beer-enthusiasts each year, Oktoberfest Denver is as traditional as they come, with opening ceremonies, stein-hoisting competitions, bratwurst-eating contests, and a Long Dog Derby. The entertainment scheduled over three weekends includes Swiss, Austrian, and German bands who'll no doubt play more polka than you can dance to.
Oktoberfest Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg doesn't just really like any excuse to drink beer for days on end... the town was actually founded by a German immigrant society in the mid-1800s, and so can lay claim to honoring their heritage each fall. Their annual Oktoberfest is a welcome mix of traditional Bavarian and Texan inspirations, resulting in classic treats like red cabbage, Bavarian pretzels, schnitzel, and bratwurst alongside American and even Cajun snacks like shrimp gumbo and hamburgers. Beers range from local Texan brews to German imports, while perhaps the most eclectic mix happens on stage with bands playing anything from Czech music to polka and from oompah music to swing.