Despite its name, Oktoberfest actually begins in September. Traditionally, the festivities run over the two weeks leading up to the first Sunday in October. The inspiration for this Bavarian festival began over 200 years ago when Bavaria's Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The celebration was so popular it became an annual event. The epicenter of Oktoberfest is Munich, the capital city of Bavaria. But you don't have to cross the Atlantic to get a taste of Germany's largest Volksfest! There are plenty of Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the United States – and these are some of the most authentic, according to 10Best, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
, Washington looks like a Bavarian village 365 days a year, but when it's time for Oktoberfest, this town cranks the German vibes up to 11! The alpine hills that frame Leavenworth give it the Bavarian backdrop that will make you feel like you've traveled all the way to Germany. Over the course of three weekends, Leavenworth's Oktoberfest delights visitors with live music, polka dancing, traditional German foods and, of course, beer. To keep things as authentic as possible, the event is put on by Projekt Bayern, whose main mission is to "make Leavenworth more authentically Bavarian in nature."
Southwest Ohio is home to a rich German-American heritage and Cincinnati
's "Oktoberfest Zinzinnati" is a celebration showcasing the region's traditions. Considered to be America's largest Oktoberfest celebration, Zinzinnati estimates that about 600,000 attendees take part in activities such as a dachshund race known as the "Running of the Wieners," as well as the "Gemuetlichkeit (Goodwill) Games," which feature a beer stein race and a beer barrel roll. This Oktoberfest takes over 2nd and 3rd streets between Elm and Walnut in downtown Cincinnati, and has five beer gardens and four fest tents.
For 30 years, Frankenmuth
, nicknamed "Michigan's Little Bavaria," has been hosting one of the state's most authentic Oktoberfest celebrations. For four days in September, guests are invited to dance to authentic German music, indulge in German fare and drink Hofbrauhaus beer imported straight from Germany!
The Linde Oktoberfest in Tulsa
, Oklahoma, is everything you’d expect from an Oktoberfest – and then some. The food is one of the main attractions, featuring traditional German dishes, as well as American classics like a Tulsa Dog with mustard and jalapeño relish. For four days, thousands are invited to take part in a jam-packed schedule of events, ranging from the Parade of Brewers to friendly contests like the Strong Stein Competition, a challenge to see who can hold 34 ounces of beer the longest.
When you think about Georgia, German culture might be the furthest thing from your mind. But surprisingly, the city of Helen
is a pocket of German culture complete with Bavarian-style buildings and vineyards set in a mountainous landscape. For nearly 50 years, Helen, Georgia has been putting on one of the best Oktoberfests in the South. Most festivities are held in the Festhalle, where you'll find traditional food and dancing. But after you've had your fill of Oktoberfest beer, check out the nearby vineyards to get a taste of Georgia's wine country!
Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg
is a town whose German heritage has earned it the title of "Polka Capital of Texas." There's no shortage of events over this three-day celebration. The highlights of Fredericksburg's Oktoberfest include the OkTubaFest, the Hauptstrasse Chicken Dance and the 42 Tournament, a domino game that is synonymous with the state of Texas.
For over 45 years, Tempe
, Arizona, has hosted the Four Peaks Oktoberfest, which is the classic Bavarian-style celebration with a Southwestern twist. The event is put on by Tempe Sister Cities and it's an annual fundraiser to help promote multiculturalism. Money raised not only brings high school students and teachers from around the world to Tempe, but also helps Tempe high school students visit international cities. What's better than a fun festival where proceeds go toward a good cause? In addition to traditionally German activities like polka dancing and German fare, Four Peaks Oktoberfest also puts on a carnival complete with games and rides.
Named after the Bavarian city of Ulm, New Ulm
in Minnesota hosts an authentic Oktoberfest over two weekends. The event kicks off with the Germanic-American Day Parade, with a route that leads to the middle of the Downtown Oktoberfest where the celebration can begin. Aside from locally brewed beer and local wines, New Ulm's Oktoberfest has plenty of games, contests and even horse-drawn trolley rides.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the von Trapp family after they left Austria? The family, who are the subjects of the famous musical and movie, The Sound of Music, went to Stowe
, Vermont, where descendants still run a farmstead, lodge and brewery. For the 10th year in a row, the Trapp Family Lodge is hosting an Oktoberfest celebration, complete with Austrian-inspired beer and food.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Alpine Village puts on one of Southern California's largest Oktoberfest celebrations. This "little slice of Bavaria" in Los Angeles
goes to great lengths to make this festival as authentic as possible by styling their restaurant to look like a "bier hall," bringing the Haderlumpen band in from Germany, and importing HofBrau beer. It's a traditional German party only 10 miles away from some of the best beaches in Southern California!
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