Oktoberfest is the world’s most iconic beer festival: the ultimate celebration of great beer, Bavarian food, and Bavarian traditions since the early 19th century when the city of Munich held a grand public festival to honour a royal wedding. The celebration grew into an annual event which now attracts around six million visitors, and although Munich remains the heart of Oktoberfest festivities, there are now numerous Oktoberfest-inspired international beer festivals around the world where you can experience good times and an authentic taste of German culture:
Known locally as ‘The Wiesn,’ this sixteen-day extravaganza typically runs from mid-September until early October. It takes place at Theresienweise, (the Meadow of Therese): a vast open field that is transformed into a bustling wonderland of beer gardens, beer halls, and fairgrounds. Revellers come from all around the world to consume more than seven million litres of German beers, from light lagers and wheat beers to rich dunkel (dark) beers, over the course of the festival.
You don’t have to be a beer lover to appreciate the vibrant atmosphere: you can also enjoy mouthwatering Bavarian food like bratwurst, pretzels, and hearty potato dishes while soaking up the carnival atmosphere created by traditional live music and dancing, colourful parades and thrilling fairground rides. October also marks the start of Munich’s cultural season, so you can enjoy the diverse array of exhibitions and performances on offer at the city’s many great museums, galleries, and theatres.
Visiting Blumenau in Brazil is like taking a step into a charming slice of Germany set in the heart of South America, especially if your visit coincides with its Oktoberfest celebrations. Located in the picturesque southern Brazil state of Santa Catarina, the city’s German roots are evident in its Bavarian style buildings as well as its famous festival, which has become the second-largest celebration of its kind in the world.
Originally established in 1984 to revitalize the town’s economy and boost morale after a devastating flood, Blumenau Oktoberfest now welcomes over 700,000 visitors each year. It’s a fantastic combination of German beer, music, and food, infused with the Brazilian flair for a good party. The streets are alive with colourful parades and traditional Bavarian music and dancing: an unforgettable experience that encapsulates the joining of two vibrant cultures.
Take a stroll through the town’s historic centre, exploring quaint cafes, craft shops, and lovely parks, as well as the Museu da Cerveja (Beer Museum), where you can learn about the history of brewing in the region.
German immigrants were among the first to colonise Ohio, arriving in the area from 1830 onwards – today, close to half of the city’s population claim some German ancestry. The city’s Oktoberfest is the largest in the United States: a vibrant and exuberant celebration of Bavarian traditions that adds a uniquely American twist to the traditional German festival. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati features massive beer gardens and beer halls where you can enjoy a wide array of German-influenced street food including potato dumplings and mashed potato dishes.
Along with a vast variety of classic German and American craft beers available to sample, you can also enjoy delectable German dishes such as bratwurst, sauerkraut, and pretzels while soaking up the lively atmosphere. Be prepared to participate in one of the festival’s most famous attractions – the World’s Largest Chicken Dance sees thousands of participants gather to dance to the iconic “Chicken Dance” song.
Nicknamed the ‘Queen City’, Cincinnati’s rich cultural heritage is on display in its world-class museums, including the Cincinnati Art Museum. A visit to the historic National Underground Railroad Freedom Centre is a must if you want to understand a very different side of the United States’ history.
The Marco Polo German Bierfest is the largest celebration of German beer traditions in Asia: a vibrant and authentic homage to the original Munich Oktoberfest. Hosted at the Marco Polo Hotel near the iconic Star Ferry pier, the Bierfest is a must-see event for thousands of people each year. Featuring vast beer halls where you can enjoy a variety of German beers and hearty German foods, the party mood is enhanced by live performances of traditional Bavarian folk music, lively drinking competitions and traditional games such as Alphorn-blowing.
October is also a great time of year to explore Hong Kong’s many amazing hiking trails, including Lantau Island and Sai Kung. In the lead-up to Halloween, Ocean Park and Disneyland go all out with their decorations and themed events, creating a spookily fun family atmosphere.
Head north to Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, for another fantastic Oktoberfest experience that offers a distinctly Canadian twist on the traditional celebration. You’ll be treated to a diverse array of brewed beers and mouthwatering German foods, as well as lively parades, engaging cultural events and energetic music and dance performances.
Many of the region’s residents claiming either German or Pennsylvanian Dutch heritage, and traditional Mennonite communities can still be found in the surrounding area – one of the most well-known is St Jacobs. The “Twin Cities” of Kitchener and Waterloo also boast a thriving arts scene – a visit to the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery is a must.
Whichever part of the world you choose to experience your first (or next) Oktoberfest, your personal travel manager can help with ideas and planning.