While many may see Oktoberfest as autumn’s response to Spring Break, it’s actually a Bavarian tradition celebrating fun, dancing, and enjoying a specialty beer. The famous Oktoberfest brew was originally crafted to celebrate a famous Bavarian wedding of a king to his new wife, which turned into the celebration we enjoy today.
Although the real festival held in Germany lasts a whopping 18 days, most American versions are held over a weekend or two. But whether you’re trying to find somewhere to celebrate your Bavarian roots, or just enjoy a great time, here are five of the best Oktoberfest celebrations held in the United States.
1. New Ulm Oktoberfest | New Ulm, Minnesota
Now in its 35th year of celebrating, New Ulm has been kicking off the first two weekends in October with this traditional festival. Located in downtown New Ulm, this four day celebration is filled with traditional costumes, local food, beer, and wine, and polka bands. You’ll also be able to take a step back in time with horse-drawn trolley rides, public tours of historical buildings, tours of historic Schell’s Brewery, and a 45-foot Glockenspiel. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more traditional, or fun, Oktoberfest anywhere else.
2. Alpine Village | Torrance, California
If you’re looking for a little slice of Bavaria, Torrance has you covered with their Alpine Village, the original So-Cal Oktoberfest. This annual tradition has been going strong since 1968 and keeps getting better each year. The German market hosts an enormous 32,000 square foot event tent with authentic bands directly from Germany. There are also contests, dancing, singing, shopping, and of course, beer. This annual Bavarian party runs from early September to late October. And if you want to bring the kids, you can go on Sundays when it transforms into more of a family friendly carnival. This long running tradition has something for everyone to enjoy!
3. Hofbräuhaus | Las Vegas, Nevada
This may not be much of a surprise, but an annual party involving beer and fun can be found in Sin City. Held in a replica of a famous Bavarian brewery, this month-and-a-half long annual celebration brings German sausages, cold beer, and live authentic music to bring Germany to the Strip. Hofbräuhaus strives for authenticity with traditional food, bands, and drinking games, which may involve wooden paddles. If you’re looking for a different kind of Las Vegas party, or just want to get in on the Oktoberfest fun on the Strip, Hofbräuhaus is for you.
4. Bavarian Inn Oktoberfest | Shepherdstown, West Virginia
For over 30 years, the Bavarian Inn has been bringing their one-day Oktoberfest festival to the south. A fun-filled day of music, dancing, food, and beer and wine awaits you at this beautiful resort. Best of all, it’s only about an hour from D.C., making for a great day trip if you’re in the area in September. For six hours you’re transported from the south to Bavaria in an authentic party that’s great for the whole family!
5. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati | Cincinnati, Ohio
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati isn’t just one of the oldest Bavarian celebrations in the U.S.; it’s one of the largest. This party fills six blocks and celebrates with 500,000 guests annually. Not only does it hold all the regular fanfare of music and beer, but it hosts the adorable Running of the Weiner Dogs, complete with hotdog costumes for each entrant. This massive Bavarian event also hosts the World’s Largest Brat Eating Contest, tens of thousands of pounds of German food, and six-pound pretzels. If you’re looking for the biggest Oktoberfest around, it doesn’t get any larger than Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.