Would you believe that one of the biggest celebrations of the year began as a wedding reception? Oktoberfest, the 16-day beer event held in Munich, Germany, got its start during the wedding celebration of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. The public was invited to partake in the festivities which were held in fields outside the city gates. A horse race was put in place to signal the end of the revelry; and, when the race’s return was scheduled the following year, the tradition was born.
While the original Oktoberfest brought together roughly 40,000 citizens of Bavaria, the modern day celebration attracts six million people from all corners of the world to savor traditional German food, enjoy entertainment and, of course, drink beer! But, what if you can’t make the journey to Germany? You’re in luck because numerous cities across the U.S. host their own Oktoberfest festivals.
The Tulsa Oktoberfest, a 4-day event in Tulsa, OK, gets its claim to fame for being the origin of the first Oktoberfest Chicken Dance in the U.S. Celebrations kick off on Thursday, October 18th, with a keg-tapping ceremony and end Sunday, October 21st. You can test your rolling skills at the annual Bier Barrel Race or watch the 4th annual Running of the Wieners (the Dachshund dog breed that is). A short drive from the festivities is the Meadowlake Ranch located in Sand Springs, OK, where you can enjoy your weekend in a Lakeside Cabin equipped with a fireplace and private patio. Get in the spirit of the season at the Helen Oktoberfest taking place every day from now until October 28th in a quaint Bavarian village located in Helen, GA. This 42-year old celebration showcases German-style bands and provides culinary delights in the Festhalle. Only a few miles down the road sits Lucille’s Mountain Top Inn & Spa in the Northeast Mountain Region. The inn showcases spectacular 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia that can be admired from the inn’s wide porch.
Feeling competitive? The 42nd Annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest in California’s San Bernardino Mountains taking place September 15 through October 27 will give you the chance to put your log sawing or stein holding skills to the test against other entrants. Nestled in the National Forest of Big Bear Lake, CA, the Alpenhorn Bed & Breakfast is a charming 8-room lodge offering picturesque mountain vistas from the guest room’s private balconies and complimentary afternoon hors d’oeuvres. The next best thing to being in Munich is the Leavenworth Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, WA, taking place the first three weekends in October. Follow the Bavarian procession parade into the village and grab your commemorative stein before indulging in live music and hearty German food. After a full day of celebrating, you can enjoy enchanting riverfront views and the fall foliage while taking a scenic walk back to the River Haus in the Pines Bed & Breakfast.
Oktoberfest may have originated in Germany, but, today, the long-standing tradition is embraced worldwide. So, don’t fret if you can’t make it to Munich this year. You can dust off your stein and get your fill at any number of celebrations closer to home.