America’s rich history of immigration over the centuries has comprised a large number of German settlers – a trend that has given rise to Oktoberfest celebrations across the nation.
Each year numerous towns and cities across America stage their own versions of the Oktoberfest celebration that originated in Munich, Germany back in the early 18th century. First created as a folk festival, the event is best known today for its beer offerings, with many of the American Oktoberfests featuring authentic beer imported from Germany. If you’d like to visit one of these raucous occasions, we’ve given you plenty of inspiration by picking out 10 of the most authentic Oktoberfests in the US, listed geographically from east to west.
The small village of Leavenworth in Central Washington State plays host to a magical annual Oktoberfest celebration. Perched among the snow-clad peaks of the Cascade Mountains, the old world Alpine-style village draws local vendors, artists, & crafters who come to showcase their Bavarian-themed wares in front of large numbers of locals and visitors alike. Highlights include the obligatory mouth-watering brats, and there’s even a dedicated drop-in ‘Kinderplatz’ (nursery) to keep your little ones entertained while you shop for souvenirs.
Leavenworth, Washington State / 1-3, 8-10 & 15-17 Oct 2021
Mount Angel Oktoberfest
Can’t fly to Germany? This is the next best thing! Mount Angel Oktoberfest celebrates its Bavarian/Swiss heritage each September by inviting 350,000 people to join them. Revellers visit for the culture and stay for the fun, with each of the four days beginning with a traditional ‘webertanz’. Visitors can also view the Maibaum and Fruchtsäule as they stroll the 50 food booths disguised as alpine chalets., while five biergartens showcase German beers, wines and local craft brews. Entertainment is nonstop and varies from alphorns to alpine rock, to enjoy a polka, to watching gentleman perform the schuhplattler. Adding to the occasion, the Glockenspiel displays the town history every hour.
Mount Angel, Oregon / 16-19 Sept 2021
Alpine Village Oktoberfest
Held annually since 1968 at the Bavarian-themed shopping, dining and entertainments destination of Alpine Village in southern California, this acclaimed Oktoberfest offers German beer, food & oompah bands for a full month. Real connoisseurs will enjoy the HofBrau beer imported directly from Munich and authentic German foodie treats like pork schnitzel sandwiches. There’s also a market selling German sausages and baked goods, and all the Bavarian singing and dancing you could wish for. Sundays are billed as family days thanks to the array of kid-friendly groups and activities.
California / Sept-Oct 2021
Four Peaks Oktoberfest
Taking place just north of Tempe Butte in Arizona, the artificial reservoir of Tempe Town Lake is the scene of one of the region’s signature annual events. Held over three fun-packed days, the German-style family-friendly celebration features live music, brats, and beer gardens, along with quirky extras such as a polka stage, dachshund racing, keg tappings, karaoke, carnival rides, kids activities, and plenty more, while by night the festival site turns into a buzzing concert venue.
Tempe Town Lake, Arizona / 8-10 Oct 2021
Held annually for over half-a-decade, Denver Oktoberfest is one of America’s most long-standing – and largest – Oktoberfests. What started as a humble festival has ballooned to a multi-day event that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the streets of downtown Denver, which are taken over by live music acts, vendors servings lashings of delicious German-themed food and drink, (including authentic beer brands such as Spaten and Franziskaner), plus an array of other activities and events including keg bowling and stein hoisting. The event is free to enter, though VIP packages are available for a fee.
Denver, Colorado / 17 Sept – 10 Oct 2021
Perched in the heart of Texas Hill County, Fredericksburg’s German heritage has led to many people dubbing the city the ‘Polka Capital of Texas. But far from hiding its teutonic light under a bushel, Fredericksburg celebrates this history with great gusto, and never more so than at its annual Oktoberfest celebration. Held over three days, the event features an assortment of activities, including oompah music, arts, crafts, shopping, a children’s area, 50 varieties of beer, and the hotly anticipated Hauptstrasse Chicken Dance.
Fredericksburg, Texas / 1-3 Oct 2021
A celebration of Bavarian culture in the heart of Oklahoma, Linde Oktoberfest kicks off with a private, ‘Gemütlichkeit’ (warm & friendly) evening followed by a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment. There’s German bands, Bavarian delicacies, arts and crafts, carnival rides and family-friendly competitions. Be sure to sample some authentic German bratwurst with sauerkraut, beers, cheesecake, knackwurst and polish sausages, stollen, hot pretzels , apple strudel and other foodie treats that originated in northern and eastern Europe. Meanwhile markets selling all kinds of German items such as stained glass, steins, beads and other novelties make for ideal souvenir hunting.
Tulsa, Oklahoma / 21-24 Oct 2021
Among the largest Oktoberfests in the country and indeed the world, Zinzinnati Oktoberfest attracts around half-a-million visitors every year. The festival is chock full of specialty beer tappings, including limited release beers form sponsor Samuel Adams as well as local craft beer that you won’t find anywhere else. As for non-imbibing activities, you can participate in the ‘Gemuetlichkeit’ (goodwill) Games with a beer barrel roll or a stein race, or watch the incredible running ‘weiners’ (dogs) compete for bragging rights. There’s also live stage music where you can catch some great performances including traditional German oompah bands.
Cincinnati, Ohio / 16-19 Sept 2021
One of numerous towns and cities in the US with long-standing German roots, Frankenmuth’s Oktoberfest boasts the distinction of being the first to receive the blessing of the original Oktoberfest in Munich. Held in the vast green expanse of Heritage Park, the event was also the first to export authentic beer from Munich’s iconic Hofbrauhaus brewery for the occasion – much to the delight of the city’s beer-loving aficionados. Today the festival has gone from strength to strength, drawing visitors from far and wide with its authentic entertainment, dancing, souvenirs, diverse food, and of course, Hofbrauhaus beer.
Frankenmuth, Michigan / 16-19 Sept 2021
Another well established event, Helen Oktoberfest is said to be the longest running Oktoberfest anywhere in the US. Held in the Georgia city of Helen’s riverside Festhalle venue, it’s spread over multiple weeks of dancing, food, and beer, with revellers typically seen dressed in traditional attire including lederhosen and dirndls while dancing to the polka. There’s a rotating group of musical acts authentic German tunes and modern favourites. The event is open to all ages, though weekends are popular with tour and college groups, while weekdays tend to be a bit more family friendly
Helen, Georgia / 30 Sept – 7 Nov 2021
Munich on the East River
New York’s contribution to the global phenomenon that is Oktoberfest is Munich on the East River, which takes place under the canvas of a fully decorated tent. Here, an Oompah band performs for a captive audience of festival-goers, all well lubricated thanks to the litre steins of Oktoberfest suds on offer, while snack stands peddle traditional treats such as cotton candy, gingerbread and brezel. Live music is delivered by established acts, including notable special guests. Staff kitted out in lederhosen add to the occasion.
East River, New York City / 10 Sept – 24 Oct 2021
Trapp Family Lodge Oktoberfest
Located on 2,500 acres in the picturesque town of Stowe in northern Vermont, Trapp Family Lodge is a unique mountain resort that also happens to host one of America’s most scenic Oktoberfests. Set against stunning mountain views, the event invites visitors to stroll around the resort’s dedicated Bierhall and grounds, where you’ll find oompah bands, authentic Bavarian foods, freshly brewed von Trapp Brewing lagers, lawn games, and fun for the whole family. Admission is free and includes an entree, app and mug.
Stowe, Vermont / 18 Sept 2021