As summer comes to an end, autumn doesn’t just bring the cooler temps and colorful fall foliage. It also marks the start of fun fall festivals such as Oktoberfest, a beer festival that showcases and celebrates German traditions. Munich’s stellar beer fest is always a good time, but if you’re experiencing it for the first time, you should consider planning an extended vacay in the Bavarian city. In addition to Munich’s Oktoberfest, we pulled together a list of some of the most popular Oktoberfest celebrations around the world along with popular sights and nearby cities to check out before or after your immersive journey into German culture.
1. Munich, Germany
When: Sept. 17 – Oct. 3, 2017
What’s On Tap: Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably already know that Munich hosts the largest beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest! The 184-year-old, 16- to 18-day folk festival has something for everyone, including brass-band performances, a crossbow competition, a traditional costume parade and two family days for parents looking for budget-friendly performances and rides for their kids. And we can’t forget about the focus here… the beer! Popular beer brands and vendors serve up frosty steins in 34 tents. So, don’t miss out on cozying up with locals and tourists alike by grabbing a beer or two at the Hofbrau Haus – by far the most famous of Munich’s beer halls. Just make sure you have enough room to expand your dirndl dress or lederhosen for this ultimate beer and food crawl.
Sights to See: Deutsches Museum, English Garden, St. Peter’s Church, Viktualienmarkt, Old Picture Gallery, BMW World and the Nymphenburg Palace. Berlin, Zurich, Prague and Venice are a few cities an hour (or less) away by plane if you’re looking to extend your time in Europe.
2. Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
When: Oct. 6-14, 2017
What’s On Tap: This Oktoberfest has almost 50 events to keep attendees busy during the nine-day festival. Tee off at the Oktoberfest Golf Experience on the Deer Ridge Golf Course, taste Bavarian-inspired cuisine at the Stein & Dine, watch as the winning contestant is crowned at the Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball and head to the local airport for a helicopter ride to explore the fall colors along the Grand River. This festival has 40 family and cultural events scheduled each year, including the annual Thanksgiving Parade (the largest in Canada), usually celebrated on second Monday in October.
Sights to See: Christkindl Market, St. Jacobs Farmers Market, Waterloo Region Museum. Extend your stay in Canada and hit the road for a two-hour drive to explore Toronto.
3. Blumenau, Brazil
When: Oct. 4-22, 2017
What’s On Tap: The Velha neighborhood in Blumenau hosts an annual beer festival at the Parque Vila Germanica for 19 days. And just in case you didn’t know, Brazil is home to several large German Brazilian communities, including Blumenau, which has a community of more than 300,000 people. That makes this a prime spot for a fun German beer festival. In addition to craft breweries from the region, Eisenbahn, the event’s official brewery, serves a variety of beers to quench the thirst of the finickiest palate. And the food vendors here sell traditional German treats such as curry wurst, spätzle, potatoes stuffed with calabresa, chocolate-covered pretzels and more. Trust me… you’ll need some sustenance to soak up a couple of hours of sampling the tasty spirits on tap.
Sights to See: Museu da Cervaja (Beer Museum), Water Park Cascabéia and Ramiro Ruediger Park. Blumenau is only a two-hour drive to beautiful white sand beaches in Florianopolis, and extend your stay in Brazil to explore the natural beauty of Iguazu Falls.
4. Hong Kong, China
When: Oct. 20 – Nov. 11, 2017
What’s On Tap: For more than 25 years, Hong Kong has hosted the Marco Polo German Bierfest, the longest running outdoor Oktoberfest and most popular beer festival in the city. So, how much does it cost to get in? For adults, a ticket to get in from Sunday through Thursday is about $20, but on Fridays and Saturdays, the price increases to $35 (a commemorative Marco Polo German Biefest beer mug included). And there’s no shortage of food served here – from the beef goulash to pan-fried sausages with sauerkraut to the German cheesecake with forest berry compote. But wait, there’s more… what about entertainment? Well, The Notenhobler – the official band of the festival (from Germany) – has been singing traditional tunes and folk music in regularly scheduled performances at this annual event since 1994. The group is also essential in getting the audience to participate in games, such as, “Milking the Cow,” “Strong Man” and various drinking contests. These are sure to put your drinking skills to the test!
Sights to See: The Peak, Hong Kong Disneyland, Ladies’ Market, Lan Kwai Fong, Temple Street Night Market and the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Want to explore more of China? Hop on a two-hour flight to visit vibrant Shanghai.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
When: Sept. 15 – 17, 2017
What’s On Tap: More than 500,000 people attend the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati each year as the city of Cincinnati showcases the rich German heritage of Southwest Ohio. This is the largest Oktoberfest in the U.S., and to date, festival goers have consumed 80,500 bratwursts, 23,004 soft pretzels, 16,0002 strudels, 3,600 pounds of sauerkraut and 702 pounds of Limburger cheese. This beer festival features fun things to do and see, such as watching or joining thousands of people participate in the World’s Largest Chicken Dance (a popular German heritage song) or watch 100 dachshunds race for the finish line in the Running of the Wieners.
Sights to See: Findlay Market, Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati Art Museum and Eden Park. And if you’re in the area for a few days, you should consider spending some time in Columbus – only a two-hour drive away.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan a trip to one of these destinations to experience Oktoberfest? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with a specialist to plan your next vacay.