Put on your dirndl and lederhosen and grab a pint (or many) in preparation for Oktoberfest, a celebration of Bavarian culture.
Though this festival originates in Munich, drawing in six million merry men and women each year, there’s no need to travel across the pond to seek out German beer, food and polka music. North America is home to many cities that are as serious about this fun-filled fair as the Germans.
In fact, Canada’s own Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is considered to be the largest celebration outside of Germany.
Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with more than one million incredible places to stay, has all the details on the best North American Oktoberfest celebrations and the best accommodations to make sure you have first access to the brew.
After all, it’s best to trust a site that also has a travel list of the top 250 beer destinations…
Cincinnati, Ohio (September 16-18)
Held on 2nd and 3rd Streets between Elm and Walnut in downtown “Zinzinnati,” with 500,000 attendees, Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest remains to be the largest in the United States. To showcase the rich German heritage of Southwest Ohio, there are a variety of activities and events for the whole family. The festival kicks off with The Running of the Weiner, where 100 dachshunds will race to be crowned the winning wiener. In addition to live entertainment and celebrity appearances, there are the exciting Gemuetlichkeit (goodwill) Games, including the Beer Stein Race and Beer Barrel Roll. However, it is the World’s Largest Chicken Dance that sets this festival apart from any other. Thousands of dancers have gathered every year since 1994 when Zinzinnatians set the record for the largest Chicken Dance in the world – it’s an event your feet won’t want to miss.
Stay at the Cincinnatian Hotel for its lavish décor and amenities, as well as its central location – ideal for touring after Oktoberfest celebrations. Set within a historic 1882 building, this upscale hotel is walking distance from the city’s most popular landmarks, such as the Great American Ballpark and the Freedom Center.
Toronto, Ontario (September 30-October 1)
Located in a massive Festhalle tent and outdoor Bavarian Village within Ontario Place, Toronto Oktoberfest brings a truly authentic Bavarian experience to its 5,000 attendees. Alongside Erdinger Weissbier, a popular wheat beer brewed in the heart of Bavaria in accordance with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, there is delectable traditional food including strudel, schnitzel, currywurst, salted pretzels and more. In addition to classic festivities such as the Beer Stein Race and Beer Barrel Roll, there are also unique activities – such as keg bowling, giant Jenga and a pretzel toss. This Instagram-worthy festival is not one to miss.
Stay at the Delta Hotel to be located close to the Ontario Centre and other popular tourist destinations, like Ripley’s Aquarium, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Rogers Centre. With an indoor pool, hot tub and yoga studio, this hotel is the perfect place to detox after drinking all those pints of Erdinger Weissbier.
Nashville, Tennessee (October 7-9)
Spread over eight blocks in the historic neighborhood of Germantown just outside of downtown, the Nashville Oktoberfest has been around since 1980 and remains to be Nashville’s oldest festival. In addition to 100 booths of Tennessee craft vendors, there are 25 food vendors and 20 types of beer. Head to Monroe Street for the world’s longest ‘slip and slide’ in beer – yes, you hear us correctly – beer. If you’re a true brew lover and up for the challenge, join the five-kilometer Bier Run (there’s prizes!) Whether or not you have kids in tow, there’s activities for all ages – including the parade, Kidz Fun Zone (an entire street dedicated to the little ones) and a Pup Parade. With over 100,000 people in attendance, you’ll definitely be feeling Bavarian pride.
Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (October 7-15)
As previously mentioned, Kitchener-Waterloo has become one of the largest Bavarian festivals in North America since its start in 1969. Begin the festivities by watching Oktoberfest’s President tap the keg at Carl Zehr Square amongst thousands of people. Then, make your way to one of the 17 festhallens, the Bavarian decorated tents, to enjoy traditional food, beer and of course, entertainment! If attending with those below the drinking age, there are 40 family and cultural events available, as well as Canada’s largest Thanksgiving parade. If looking for something more activity-driven, participate in one of the sporting events – the Oktoberfest Golf Experience, the five-kilometer Fun Run, Tour de Hans 100, or 50-kilometer Cycle Race. It’s nearly impossible to not have fun at this nine-day festival.
Stay at Queens Landing Guest House for truly German experience – this 1920s home with stained glass windows, a walnut trim and high ceilings was built by a German craftsman. When relaxing after Oktoberfest activities, guests can take advantage of the parlour, sunroom, porches and garden.