The first sign of fall for many people begins with a tribute to Oktoberfest! All though the event has been widely celebrated in the United States during the entire month of October, the truth is that Oktoberfest is actually a sixteen-day Bavarian beer festival with over six million attendees each year. Oktoberfest starts on the first Saturday after September 15th, and continues until the first Sunday in October. If the first Sunday is the 1st or the 2nd, the festival is extended to October 3rd, and this is considered a public holiday.
The festival begins in Munich only after the official gun salute and the mayor shouts, ‘O’ zapft is!’ (“It’s tapped!”) and then the mayor offers the first mug of beer to the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria. At the festival in Munich, only six breweries are permitted to serve beer, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten. The breweries are also required to serve the beer in a one-liter mug, called a Maß. The Oktoberfest beer is actually a variety called Märzen, which is darker and stronger than traditional beer containing up to six percent alcohol. Märzen is bottom-fermented, and lagered for at least 30 days. All German beer, like the Oktoberfest beer is brewed to strict German standards that only include four ingredients, malt, hops, barley, and yeast.
The first Oktoberfest was actually held on October 12, 1810, by Prince Ludwig of Bavaria in celebration of his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. What made this celebration unique, was that the public was invited to join in on the festivities. Over 40,000 Bavarians attended the celebration, thus starting a tradition that is still celebrated 200 years later at the same location. If you can’t make it to Munich for the festivities, many cities and breweries around the world take part in the Oktoberfest celebration, it may not last all sixteen days, but a few of our favorites are listed below.
Wurstfest, New Braunfels, TX
Just an hour away from Austin, TX, Wurstfest is a “ten day salute to sausage”, held every year during the end of October. Wurstfest is the only local Oktoberfest with a permanent biergarten and facilities dedicated to the annual festival. From the amazing food, to pitchers of beer, plus the crazy beer hats, not to mention the music, this event is truly for people of all ages.
Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV
Celebrate Oktoberfest all year long by visiting the Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, which is an exact replica of the legendary Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany . This is the first and only German beer hall and restaurant to call Las Vegas home. Guests can enjoy a traditional beer hall with nightly entertainment, so you can be sure to enjoy a chicken dance or two.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Cincinnati, OH
You may not make it Munich, but you can come close, Okotberfest Zinzinnati, or America’s Oktoberfest is the second largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world. Every year in September, more than a half a million people attend this festival to eat delicious German food, listen to German music, and of course consume over 1,300 barrels of beer.
‘Prost! ‘ (Cheers!)