Oktoberfest: How and Where to Celebrate it

Oktobefest, Munich, GermanyOktoberfest, it's a fabulous fun fair that dates back to October 12, 1810, having evolved from the celebrations in Munich for the royal wedding Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

Today, Munich's Oktoberfest takes place from mid-September until the end of the first weekend in October. Festivities include:

  • parades with horse drawn beer wagons with kegs, dancers, groups in regional costumes and historical military uniforms, marching bands, livestock, flag throwers, and floats displaying the bounty of the harvest and garlands of flowers
  • a midway
  • open-air concerts
  • beer tents with traditional Bavarian cuisine, brass bands, singing, dancing, and, yes, drinking. (Beer is provided by 6 local breweries.)

If you didn't make it to Munich this year, fortunately, Oktoberfest is also celebrated in communities with populations of German heritage in other parts of the world. Some may surprise you.

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest (Ontario, Canada)

TOktoberfest Kitchener-Waterloohe largest Oktoberfest outside Munich is in Canada. In 1969, the founders of the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo began Oktoberfest to celebrate the area's German heritage. With the support of one of Munich's tourism officials, a small group of volunteers launched what has grown into an annual event attracting over 700,000 visitors.

Miss Oktoberfest is crowned at the Oktoberfest Gala Ball and dinner on the 1st Friday of October. The winner participates in Canada's largest Thanksgiving Day parade on the 2nd Monday in October. There are floats, marching bands and clowns.

Festivities continue for 8 days in 18 festhallen (festival halls). There is a farmer's market, a golf event, and over 40 family activities. The official K-W Oktoberfest store sells authentic beer steins, Bavarian clothing, crafts, and souvenirs.

Next Video In German

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Covering a 6-block area, during the 3rd weekend of September, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, America's largest Oktoberfest, attracts over 500,000 visitors. Keg tapping kicks off the opening ceremonies. There are German games, Alpenhorns, and lots of German cuisine. The Glockenspiel strikes every hour. Authentic Dirndls and Lederhosen can be purchased onsite.

Other US communities celebrating in October include Leavenworth, Washington (for 3 weeks), and Macon, Georgia (on the 3rd weekend in October).  Las Vegas Hofbrauhaus Rocks with Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest in Kingston, Jamaica

Jamaica Germany Week

Jamaica has had several waves of German settlement  dating back to the 1770s. In December, 1835, for example, 250 Germans were settled on Lord Seaforth's estate, an area called Seaforth Town today. Germans also settled in St. Elizabeth, Trelawny, and the hills of St. Ann.

It is not surprising that at the end of it's Germany week,  the Jamaican-German Society holds an annual Oktoberfest celebration in Kingston on the 1st Sunday of October.

There is music, dancing, and prizes. 12 types of German beer are available (and, of course, Jamaican beer is also served).

Other Oktoberfest Celebrations

There are also large Oktoberfest celebrations in Blumenau, Brazil, Hong Kong, Brisbane, Australia, and South Africa (Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg).

Photo Credits: sanfamedia, Jessica Bayne, Jamaican-German Society

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Receive updates on the latest trends, best practices, and strategies
to transform your meetings and events