Every year thousands of people converge in Munich, Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest by drinking enormous steins of beer, sampling traditional food and generally embracing all things Bavarian. Luckily, you don't need to travel all the way to Europe to participate in this autumnal tradition. There are dozens of authentic Oktoberfest celebrations here in the US, and some of them are quite large.
Dig out your dirndl or lederhosen, pick a designated driver, and get ready to party at one of these celebrations.
Cincinnati is home to the largest Oktoberfest in the United States. Over half a million people converge downtown over the course of three days. The celebrations are immense: live music plays across seven separate stages while specialties like potato pancakes, pretzels and sauerkraut are doled out to hungry attendees. Of course there is plenty of German beer to go around as well.
A major highlight of the festivities is the Gemutlichkeit Games, a series of competitions like beer barrel racing and full beer stein relays.
Torrance, California is home to one of the oldest and most established Oktoberfests in the country. For over 45 years the celebrations have brought in crowds that are now close to 100,0000 annually. The focus here is primarily music: oom pah bands, sing-a-longs and a yodeling competition. There are also pretzel-eating contests and more.
The entertainment for Denver's popular Oktoberfest includes a long dog derby, a stein hoisting competition and the Keg Bowling National Championship. The event attracts 350,000 people annually. There is dancing, tons of food options and plentiful beer of course. Try a German beer or go with the festival's own annual Oktoberfest brew.
Wurstfest in the small town of New Braunfels (40 minutes from San Antonio) is a 10-day salute to sausage. Consider it a celebration of what happens when Bavarian culture meets Texan culture. Both German and Texan craft beer is served up alongside many, many different kinds of sausages. The entire family (children under 12 get in free) can enjoy carnival rides, polka dancing and a large arts and crafts fair.
Wurstfest takes place in November, so if you miss the classic Oktoberfest dates this is a great second chance.
Leavenworth, Washington (about 2 hours east of Seattle), plays the role of Bavarian mountain village all year round, but they really go all out for Oktoberfest, which lasts for several weekends throughout October. They strive for a sense of authenticity and you'll see many people in costume dancing to imported German bands. Festivities begin with a Bavarian procession leading to a grand keg tapping ceremony with the mayor. Afterwards enjoy German beer, bratwurst on a bun and many other delicacies.
San Francisco is home to a large German population with over 17 German Clubs. They all come out to celebrate during this three-day festival at Pier 48. The city has been celebrating what they call German Day since 1889. The celebrations probably haven't changed that much: they still feature Bavarian dances, oom pah music and massive steins of cold beer. Just be sure to book your ticket early - this is one Oktoberfest that always sells out!
Please drink responsibly and use a designated driver, as your RoamRight policy does not cover loss resulting from or caused by being under the influence of alcohol.
Where is your favorite Oktoberfest celebration?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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