Everything You Need to Know About Oktoberfest 2024: From Beer to Costumes and More!
Oktoberfest is Germany’s largest annual “Volksfest,” which traditionally lasts 16-18 days, beginning in mid-September and ending on the first Sunday in October. Sadly, for the second time in a row, the famous folk festival won't take place in Munich this year.
Fortunately, if you plan to travel domestically this fall, you might be able to participate in some less-authentic, though perhaps equally amusing, Oktoberfest events in 2021.
First, we’ll take a look at several Oktoberfest events that are still in the works closer to home. Then, we’ll share some fun facts and a bit of the history that will ensure your travel to the U.S.-based Oktoberfest celebrations are well worth the adventure.
Oktoberfest Events Happening Outside Munich
Many are asking, “Will there be an Oktoberfest 2021?” While you won’t be able to experience Oktoberfest in Munich itself this year, you can attend Oktoberfest events in a city near you. Here are our top picks for Oktoberfest celebrations across the United States that are worth checking out.
1. Schmidt’s Columbus Oktoberfest
Taking place the weekend after Labor Day at the Ohio Expo Center/Ohio State Fairgrounds, Schmidt’s Columbus Oktoberfest celebration is free for all ages. For the past 50 years, the festivities have been planned by the Schmidt family of Schmidt’s Restaurant and Sausage Haus. Take part in a four-mile run and get a complimentary beer. Enter yourself or vote for your favorite Miss Oktoberfest contestant. Shop at the merchant market and bring the kiddos for arts, crafts, and activities at Kinderplatz.
Learn More: Columbus Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: CMH, John Glen Columbus
2. Hamburg Oktoberfest
If you plan to be near the Village of Hamburg, NY this year on September 11, head over to Memorial Park for the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Taste authentic German food as well as imported beer and wine. Experience live music and dancing, and check out the German import car show. If you’re feeling strong, enter the stein-holding competition for a chance to win a prize pack valued at $250 -- all proceeds will go to charity.
Learn More: Hamburg Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: BUF, Buffalo-Niagara
3. Addison Oktoberfest
The Addison Oktoberfest started in 1987 and is self-proclaimed, “German fare with a side of Texas flair.” Of course, you’ll get the chance to taste traditional Bavarian foods and drinks. Plus, they’ve got a great lineup of music and games. “Partyhalle” offers endless hours of chicken dance and polka entertainment. “MusikeIt” features an outdoor music stage with family-friendly performances, cultural dance groups, live music, and interactive games. All beer game entrants must be 21+ to participate.
Learn More: Addison Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: DAL, Dallas Love Field
4. Denver Oktoberfest
Maxim Magazine and USA Today said this is “the best Oktoberfest in the United States.” If you’re in the Denver area during one of the last two weekends in September, head over to Larimer Street between 20th and 22nd to see what’s in store. The all-day or weekend VIP experience includes beer, wine, and spirits, an elevated culinary experience, as well as access to a private bar and restrooms. Take in keg bowling, stein hoisting, live music, and more.
Learn More: Denver Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: DEN, Denver
5. Oktoberfest Atlanta
Atlanta’s version of Oktoberfest takes place at the city’s historic Fourth Ward Skate Park. So, put on your lederhosen and join the fun. Enjoy an abundance of German-themed games, activities, beer, food, and live music. Designated drivers (ages 16+) can get in at a discount for only $10 per day. The VIP experience includes a single-day wristband, beer stein, sunglasses, and t-shirt souvenirs, four beer tickets, catering, and access to an exclusive seating area. General admission includes entry to the festival, a beer stein, and one beer ticket.
Learn More: Oktoberfest Atlanta
Nearest Airport: ATL, Atlanta Hartsfield
6. Dallas Oktoberfest
If you’re planning a trip to Dallas during the first weekend in October, you can’t miss the festivities at Flag Pole Hill, just north of White Rock Lake. This year’s Dallas Oktoberfest will feature new local music, all types of food from brats to pizza, and great beers including Hefeweizen and Kolsch. Enter the King of the Hill Cornhole Tournament with a partner to find out if you have what it takes to win. 2021’s musical lineup features bands Rhymin & Stealin, Petty Theft, and The Lupners. Plus, you can’t leave without some good ol’ fashioned stein holding.
Learn More: Dallas Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: DFW, Dallas Fort Worth
7. The Nashville Oktoberfest
This Oktoberfest, established in 1980 in Germantown, a neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, has become the city’s best beer festival. This year, it will feature tasty German foods and beers from some of the best local establishments, themed events, art vendors, and the state’s second-largest 5K run of the year. If that’s not enough, check out the world’s largest chicken dance or enter your pup in the Dachshund Derby, a race where the winner takes all.
Learn More: The Nashville Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: BNA, Nashville
8. Avalon Park Orlando Oktoberfest
If you’re ready for a German beer garden, food, and music, and you plan to be in Orlando, check out Oktoberfest in Avalon Park. The festivities will last from 5-10 PM each night on Friday and Saturday. Guests are required to have their temperature checked upon arrival and adhere to six-feet social distancing requirements. Until further notice, the bounce house will be out of commission, but there will still be Alpine dancing and plenty of fun to be had.
Learn More: Avalon Park Orlando Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: MCO, Orlando
Planning a trip to Austin in the fall? If so, be sure to visit Austoberfest for great sausage, beer, live music, and more. This festival is put on by the Saengerrunde, a German singing group established in the area in 1852, in partnership with Foodways Texas. It takes place at the Scholz Beer Garden (Biergarten), which was purchased by the Saengerrunde club in 1904. Along with several other awards, the Austoberfest event was acclaimed as the “Best Oktoberfest in America” by Food & Wine Magazine.
Learn More: Austoberfest
Nearest Airport: AUS, Austin-Bergstrom
10. Das Best Oktoberfest
The M&T Bank Stadium lots in Baltimore is home to an Oktoberfest you won’t want to miss. Das Best Oktoberfest is the city’s oldest-running craft beer festival. There will be hundreds of international, domestic, and local craft beers, wines, ciders, and schnapps to fill your souvenir glass with. If you’re a pet lover, think about bringing your dog along to enjoy the fun. This event will feature a dog costume contest and a dachshund race.
Learn More: Das Best Oktoberfest
Nearest Airport: BWI, Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall
Why Visit An Oktoberfest and Why Is It Even Celebrated?
On October 12, 1810, the crowned Prince of Bavaria (remembered as King Louis I) married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The couple’s wedding celebration unofficially marked day one of the first Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.
To honor the union between two royal families, city residents were invited to the Theresienwiese fields in front of the city gates. Attendees enjoyed several days of horse racing and other festivities that took place through October 18, 1819. The event was a hit, and in 1811, the celebration returned to the city once again.
For over two centuries, Munich residents have continued to celebrate nearly every year around the same time. With fewer than a dozen cancellations in more than 200 years, including 2020 and 2021, the tradition is loved by the locals.
What Activities are at Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest has grown to become a worldwide commemoration, now known as the world's largest beer-drinking celebration. In fact, the record for the amount of beer consumed at an Oktoberfest event in Munich is over 1.8 million gallons -- You can see why the rest of the world has decided to join in.
Aside from beer, modern festivities include other drinks like tea and wine, food, parades, costumes, church services, concerts, traditional Bavarian gun salutes, and more.
What Foods are Traditionally Eaten at Oktoberfest?
Traditional foods at Oktoberfest celebrations extend beyond mouthwatering bratwurst (würstl) and sauerkraut. For example, you might find roasted chicken, pork (schweinebraten), and ham hock (schweinshaxe), as well as grilled fish on a stick (steckerlfisch), pretzels (brezen), dumplings (knödel), cheese noodles (käsespätzle), and potato pancakes (reiberdatschi).
In the way of desserts eaten at Oktoberfest, you’ll be pleased with a variety of cakes (kuchen) including peach, black cherry and raspberry, strudels, and cookies.
Why is it called Oktoberfest?
Munich locals actually refer to Oktoberfest as “the Wiesn,” which is what they also call the meadow where the festival takes place (Theresienwiese). Around the world, we refer to the celebration in reference to the month in which it takes place, October (English) or Oktober (German). Essentially, Oktoberfest means a “festival in October.”
Regardless of where you plan to enjoy Oktoberfest this year, you’re sure to enjoy a tradition steeped in German history and culture. Whether you’re traveling in the U.S. or beyond, airport parking is easy and convenient with The Parking Spot, currently serving 22 airports with 38 near-airport parking locations. For discounts and to reserve parking in advance for your next trip—with no reservation fees—join The Spot Club™ today.