May 31, 2017

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Our round-up of Oktoberfest events in North America

Our round-up of Oktoberfest events in North America

Okay, obviously none of the various Oktoberfest events in North American can ever be a match for the original Munich Oktoberfest (starting this year on it’s second earliest possible date, 16th September). We certainly wouldn’t miss it for the world; then again, we write about it and about dirndls, lederhosen, and Bavarian fashion for a living, so it would be somewhat surprising if we *didn’t* go.

Many of our readers, however, are based in the USA and can’t necessarily make it to Munich every year. Many of them, in fact, have never been – and with a long history of German-American communities, there is no shortage of well-established beer festivals States-side to cater to those who like their measures capacious and their meals meaty.

What is more, there is no reason that the really dedicated can’t celebrate Oktoberfest on both sides of the Atlantic: Oktoberfest events in North America (and yes, that emphatically includes Canada, which has some truly excellent Fests) are numerous and most do not actually clash with or exclude attendance at the original in Munich.

So if you are looking for Oktoberfest events in North America which are near to you, convenient for you and your friends, or suitable as precursors to, substitutes for, or follow-ups after the real Munich Oktoberfest, read our handy round-up here.

Chronological guide to Oktoberfest events in North America this September/October


Keep on truckin’ this autumn… to Oktoberfest events all over North America

Breckenridge, Colorado Oktoberfest
September 8, 9, 10 2017
At 23 years and going, with genuine Paulaner beer on tap and proper oompah music, this early-bird festival held on a historic Main Street makes up for the lack of tents with a street-party style atmosphere, around three dozen beer and food vendors, and fantastic late summer weather.

Pennsylvania Bavarian Oktoberfest
September 15, 16, 17 2017
Whether you’re in nearby Pittsburgh for further away in Philly, this authentic Oktoberfest event in one of America’s historically most German states is a must for fest-fans – with plenty of typical Oktoberfest music, polka, and traditional songs performed by live bands, there’s every reason to head to Canonsburg in mid-September.

Fremont Oktoberfest, Seattle
September 22, 23, 24 2017
As well as worldwide beers, this festival stands out from the Oktoberfest crowd with a highly unusual feature: an Oktoberfest 5K run on the Sunday. Which doesn’t seem to have dented its popularity thus far… Then again, there is free entry for kids (very much in the spirit of the Munich original, with people of all ages in the beer gardens) and, oddly enough, Dogs (“Dogtoberfest”). Perhaps the “Miss Buxom” contest on the Friday is what really gets the crowds in, though…

Oktoberfest by the Bay, San Francisco
September 22, 23, 24 2017
One of Northern California’s largest Bavarian-themed events, the Oktoberfest by the Bay has been going for some years and makes a point of celebrating the contribution of German immigrants to America throughout its history through to today – as well as of serving great beer, dishes, and oompah music (provided this year by the renowned 21-piece Chico Bavarian Brass Band!).

Oktoberfest La Crosse / Oktoberfest USA
September 28 – October 1 2017
One of the largest Oktoberfest events in the US in a historically predominantly German part of teh US, this is one for people who like it authentic: plenty of Trachten dress and German music, as well as parades, tents, and food stands. Which is perhaps why it feels self-confident enough to rock “Oktoberfest USA” as its name…

Oktoberfest in Chicago
September 29, 30 – October 1 2017
Considerably later than in previous years, the Oktoberfest in Chicago is an outdoor festival held at St. Alphonsus on Southport & Lincoln Ave. from 11am-10pm with free entry and live bands playing real Bavarian classics. Don’t miss the Oktoberfest keg tapping kick-off event! No one does it quite like Chi-town.

“Where to next, Helga?”

Toronto Oktoberfest
September 29, 30 2017
This is one of the Oktoberfests on the western side of the Atlantic where you’ll feel closest to Munich: a real, solid tent building like the original “Festhallen” at Ontario Place, Toronto, with plenty of authentic beer, food, and merriment. It kicks off with the official tapping of the keg on Friday at 6pm and keeps going through to midnight the following day.

Oktoberfest NOLA
October 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 2017
New Orleans is not a city known for German heritage (quite wrongly, given that it has had a German cultural association since 1928!) – but it is famous for knowing how to have a party. And with this Oktoberfest event spread over three – count ’em: three – weekends, the Ol’ Easy is a great place to enjoy German brews, delicacies, and live bands. You can also “enjoy” a fun-run before your beer, too, but…

Nashville Oktoberfest
October 5, 6, 7, 8 2017
Nashville doesn’t just have a neighbourhood called Germantown, but America’s second-biggest Oktoberfest events to match, held at 5thAve. and Monroe Street since 1980. With lots of live bands playing Oktoberfest polka as well as songs by Nashville’s own legendary singer-songwriters, if you’re anywhere near Tennessee, this is a must. Not a must, but increasingly popular: the 5k Oktoberfest-themed run… (Genuine Bavarians would shake their heads vehemently at the American idea of ruining a perfectly good beer festival with exericse, but there you go!)

Oktoberfest Northwest
October 6, 7, 8 2017
Held indoors in at the Washington State Fair Events Center, Washington, this rivals the preceding Freemont Oktoberfest for the title of premier event in the tristate area. Here too, you can take part in a 5k “Stein dash” or, more uniquely, “Wiener Dog Races”, but we recommend taking the festival’s motto more seriously: “Prost with the best at Oktoberfest Northwest”.

Oktoberfest Fredericksburg
October 6, 7, 8 2017
While many of the biggest US fests are held in areas with the highest historical German immigration in the north (think Wisconsin), other parts of the States have discovered the =pleasures of a big old Bavarian knees-up – like Fredericksburg, Texas, which says “Herzlich Willkommen in Fredericksburg” a few weeks later than normal this year. Craft beer, live music – and fantastic weather!

Asheville Oktoberfest
October 14, 2017
It’s short but sweet: one day, from midday to early evening, but worth a trip for people in North Carolina who want a relaxed – but by no means quiet (a band called Lagerhosen are playing all day) – Bavarian-style day out. As the festival’s publicity material says: “We will have some German-inspired options as well as pretzels, bratwursts and more,” showing once again just how deeply German elements such as pretzels and bratwursts have entered into standard American cuisine.

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Canada
October 6 – 14, 2017
An hour or so from Toronto, one of the largest Oktoberfests in Canada, and a legend in its own right. It goes on for a full week (Canadians get more holiday than American workers!) and, plus, you gotta love those relaxed Canadian opening hours (yes, friends, through until 1am!).

Oktoberfest Cape Coral
October 20-22, 27-29 2017
Closing the season in the not-quite-so autumnal Florida sunshine, Cape Coral’s German-American Social Club has been putting on this Fest for over 30 years now. So if you’re still deprived of Oktoberfest fun at this stage of the year – or looking for one last laugh – head south for a real tent, Bavarian-style entertainment, and a Ms. Oktoberfest competion now approaching 30 years’ standing!

“Country roads, take me home…”

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