Celebrating Oktoberfest in the U.S.

Strap on your lederhosen and fill up your beer boots—Oktoberfest has officially arrived! Since the event started in early 19th century Munich, Oktoberfest has exploded into the world’s biggest “people’s festival,” or Volksfest. It begins in mid-September and parties on through the first Sunday in October.

Americans have embraced this cultural celebration brought to the new world by the country’s single largest ethnic group—but with a Yankee spin, of course. Have you tried the born-in-Denver sport of Keg Bowling?

Don’t let the copious amount of beer fool you, though. It’s more than just a drink-a-thon for college kids. People of all ages can enjoy the flavorful food, animated festivities and traditional tunes. More specifically, meeting and event planners can host in one of these cities and truly give attendees something to get excited about. The exuberant spirit of Oktoberfest really is contagious. Plus, who can refuse indulging in a good Bratwurst and Pilsner to the humming of Alphorns?

WalletHub released a survey that examined the 100 largest U.S. cities to find the very best Oktoberfest destination. Based on 23 indicators of Oktoberfest-friendliness, here are the places to be if you’re looking for a wunderbar celebration. Prost!

Source: WalletHub

Overall Ranks

  1. Cincinnati, Ohio
  2. New York, N.Y.
  3. Portland, Ore.
  4. Philadelphia, Pa.
  5. Denver, Colo.
  6. Louis, Miss.
  7. Madison, Wis.
  8. Orlando, Fla.
  9. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  10. Columbus, Ohio

Most Oktoberfest Festivals & Parties per Capita

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Tulsa, Okla. (tie)
  3. Detroit, Mich.
  4. San Francisco, Calif.
  5. Boise, Idaho

Although it’s a little late to catch the festivities this year, collect information for next. Here are specific festival recommendations for your planning!

Munich on the East River (New York, N.Y.)

September 29 – October 8

A massive tent is set-up along the East River for the biggest Oktoberfest celebration in the Big Apple.  The festival was created by Sylvester Schneider, a Native German who performs with his band, Mösl Franzi and the Ja Ja Ja’s, each year.

Nashville Oktoberfest (Tenn.)

October 5 – 8

Nashville dips into in German culture for inspiration during their annual festival, which features German music, Biergardens, a Weiner dog race and—drumroll please—the world’s longest beer slip ‘n slide.

Frankenmuth Oktoberfest (Mich.)

September 14 – 17

Frankenmuth is also known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria, as it was first founded as a Bavarian mission colony for Lutherans in 1845. The town still exudes classic German style, especially during Oktoberfest. And fun fact: this one’s officially sanctioned by the mayor of Munich. So you know it’s pretty darn authentic.

Oktoberfest by the Bay (San Francisco, Calif.)

September 22-23

Oktoberfest by the Bay gives San Francisco the opportunity to display one of its major talents, costumes. Be prepared to witness thousands of laderhousens, dirdls, flower crowns and alpine hats on Pier 48 in the Mission Bay district.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)

September 15-17

Samuel Adams presents Oktoberfest Zinzinnati—the largest in America. The festival is massive, amounting to more than 500,000 attendees every year. The German heritage of Southwest Ohio is celebrated with authentic food, drinks and music. Organizers also mixed in a few Americanized activities, including the Chicken Dance and Running of the Wieners (as shown above).