Choosing the best Oktoberfest is akin to choosing the best restaurant, food or dessert — individual tastes defy any definitive ranking. The traditional Bavarian event is celebrated around the world in many variations, catering to different crowds.
To help you choose the Oktoberfest that suits your tastes, we offer this rundown of 21 of the favorites around the U.S., each with its own claims to fame.
So take a trip through this selection of upcoming festivities and waltz on over to the one that’s right for you:
1. Beaches Oktoberfest — Jacksonville, Florida
When: Oct. 13-15
Where: Jacksonville Beach Sea Walk Pavilion, 75 First St. N., Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Cost: VIP tickets — $15 for Friday, $20 for the weekend, $35 all three days
Sure, you want to enjoy Oktoberfest — beer and all — but would enjoy it more if it were a family event. Beaches Oktoberfest in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, has the beach — obviously a big draw for kids. There are plenty of other kinds of family friendly fun, too, including kid-friendly games, music, a 110-foot Ferris wheel and more.
This might be for you if: You want to enjoy activities besides drinking beer.
This might not be for you if: Having kids at an Oktoberfest just doesn’t work for you.
2. 17th Annual Oktoberfest — Highlands, New Jersey
When: Oct. 7
Where: Veterans Memorial Park, 51 Bay Ave., Highlands, New Jersey
Cost: Free admission
Beer lovers who want more than a taste of Germany in their Oktoberfest may do well to attend this one. The focus is on eating authentic German food, drinking an array of light and dark beers and enjoying traditional dancing. Bottom line — this is the place to bust out the lederhosen, dirndl dresses and corsets. Not only do most celebrants arrive in traditional garb, but there also are contests for “Best Dressed,” “Beer Stein Holding” and more.
This might be for you if: You want a close-to-authentic celebration without traveling to Germany.
This might not be for you if: You think costumes and contests are plain silly.
3. Wurstfest — New Braunfels, Texas
Where: 120 Landa St., New Braunfels, Texas
When: Nov. 3-12
Cost: $10 at the door ($8 in advance), children 12 and under get in free.
Leave it to the Lone Star State to supersize its celebration, located in this city northeast of San Antonio, next to the riverside 51-acre Landa Park. Expect to find more than 50 beers on tap — craft, Oktoberfest, import and domestic — plus, you guessed it, an array of sausages. Not into sausage? Shrimp on a stick, onion blossoms, fries, pork chops on a stick and ice cream are just some of the other treats offered up at this family friendly fest.
This might be for you if: You want a festival kids can enjoy.
This might not be for you if: You don’t want to mix Texan and Bavarian themes.
4. Linde Oktoberfest Tulsa — Tulsa, Oklahoma
Where: River West Festival Park, 2100 S. Jackson Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma
When: Oct. 19-22
Cost: $10 ($7 in advance), free for children 12 and under; Friday free until 4 p.m.
This is the 39th year that Tulsa has hosted an Oktoberfest that rivals those in Munich. Experience live German music (by bands with names like The Polka Nuts), close to 80 brands and 300 taps of beer in the Lufthansa BierGarten and an array of traditional foods like brats, strudel and Bavarian cheesecake! Entertainment includes a glockenspiel show, beer barrel-rolling competitions and a dachshund race.
This might be for you if: You want an authentic German celebration.
This might not be for you if: You just want beer and food without the games and competitions.
5. Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest — Big Bear Lake, California
Where: Big Bear Lake Convention Center, 42900 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake, California
When: Weekends, through Oct. 28
Cost: Various prices and packages. Check the website to pre-purchase
This California-based Oktoberfest features three beer gardens and what Fodor’s calls “new takes on classic German recipes.” Once you’re done noshing on knockwurst and Bavarian dumplings, you can enjoy polkas, log-rolling competitions and arts-and-crafts booths. Fodor’s notes that Oct. 17 is the day to go if you want to experience the best of German food and beer. That’s the date of the five-course “Oktoberfest Unplugged.”
This might be for you if: You want authentic German food and beer.
This might not be for you if: Celebrating in a convention center is unappealing.
6. 8th Annual Swine & Stein Oktoberfest — Gardiner, Maine
Where: Water Street in downtown Gardiner, Maine
When: Oct. 7
Cost: $20; kids free
Vendors and chefs from throughout Maine travel to Gardiner to enjoy the live music as they pour Maine craft beers and serve up plenty of eats with — surprise! — local pork. This festival has the emphasis on family with a petting zoo, kids games and activities. A rock-paper-scissors championship, the annual Gardiner Beard & Mustache Competition and a frozen T-shirt race (really) are some of the other planned activities. Want something even more unusual? This is your chance to learn how to butcher a pig, explore new cuts of meat and more.
This might be for you if: You find small-town celebrations charming.
This might not be for you if: You don’t like “the other white meat.”
7. 25th Annual Oktoberfest — East Providence, Rhode Island
Where: Bold Point Park, 600 Waterfront Drive, East Providence, Rhode Island
When: Oct. 7
Cost: $15 in advance; $20 day of event; kids 12 and under free
Rhode Island is a small state with a giant Oktoberfest complete with beer gardens, crafts, German food and German and American entertainment. Your best bet is to arrive early. Organizers expect thousands to attend.
This might be for you: If you want an Oktoberfest for adults.
This might not be for you: If you want to bring the kids. They are welcome to attend, but there are no activities geared to them.
8. Mount Snow Oktoberfest — Dover, Vermont
Where: 39 Mount Snow Road West, Dover, Vermont
When: Oct. 7 and Oct. 8
Cost: $25 one day; $35 two days; lower-price options for non-drinkers
The 20th annual Mount Snow Oktoberfest is heralded because of the more than two dozen beers on tap, plus classic fun – keg tossing, yodeling and a crafts show. Kids can enjoy pumpkin painting and more. Want to enjoy some healthy fun, too? Consider joining the 5K run.
This might be for you if: You want an all-ages celebration.
This might not be for you if: You want more drink and food and fewer activities and entertainment.
9. White Mountain Oktoberfest — Lincoln, New Hampshire
Where: 60 Loon Mountain Road, Lincoln, New Hampshire
When: Oct. 7 and Oct. 8
An added bonus of the White Mountain Oktoberfest is the vibrant fall foliage of New England. Enjoy beer, brats and German-style games (think barrel toss) when you celebrate at this festival.
This might be for you if: You love fall in New England.
This might not be for you if: You want a big city celebration.
10. 45th Annual Seymour Oktoberfest — Seymour, Indiana
Where: 309 N. Chestnut St., downtown Seymour, Indiana
When: Oct. 5-7, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Rocker John Mellencamp’s hometown hosts a three-day Oktoberfest that boasts carnival rides, lots of great food and beer, “stein-hoist” competitions, a parade, hot air balloons and more. Also up for enjoying will be some favorite local fare including apple dumplings and fish sandwiches.
This might be for you if: You love small-town celebrations.
This might not be for you if: You prefer a more adult-focused celebration.
11. Oktoberfest — Goodyear, Arizona
Where: 1658 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, Arizona
When: Oct. 28
Yes, this Oktoberfest is in the desert, but it has all things German. A German band playing live music, German food, German beer (first two free), a T-shirt and a beer mug are all part of this party. Proceeds go entirely to a local shelter for people escaping domestic violence. The kids can’t attend though; attendance is limited to those age 21 and over.
This might be for you if: You want an authentic German fest
This might not be for you if: You’re looking for a way to entertain your kids.
12. Oktoberfest Northwest — Puyallup, Washington
Where: Washington State Fair Events Center, 110 Ninth Ave. SW, Puyallup, Washington
When: Oct. 6-8
Cost: Various fees, ranging from free, $6 or $12.
Billed as Washington’s largest Oktoberfest, you can expect beer, brats, music, dancing and competitions including a 5K and bar games. Try your hand at Hammerschlagen, with prizes if you hammer a nail into wood faster than your opponents (not as easy as it sounds, especially after a few steins). There’s plenty of fun for kids, too, including frothy floats at the Root Bier Garden, a scavenger hunt and pumpkin painting. Shoppers will find souvenirs at the German Corner. The event is held indoors so attendees can enjoy it rain or shine.
You might like it if: You want an Oktoberfest with a variety of activities
You might not like it if: You can’t hammer a nail straight.
13. Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest — New Orleans
Where: Deutsches Haus, 1700 Moss St., New Orleans
When: Oct. 6-7, Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 20-21
Cost: $8, kids 12 and under free
New Orleans always knows how to throw a great party, and Oktoberfest is no exception. As you’d expect in this foodie city, you can enjoy brats, wiener schnitzel, German cheese, Bavarian pretzels and a host of German beers, wine and schnapps. “Oompah music,” special dance performances including Dancing Chicken, a 5K run/walk, beer stein holding competition, exhibits and more complete the celebration.
This might be for you if: You are a foodie.
This might not be for you if: You hate noisy crowds.
14. Oktoberfest — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Where: Pere Marquette Park, 900 N. Plankinton Ave., Wisconsin
When: Oct. 6-8
Cost: Various packages.
Yes, there is an array — some would say a glut — of Oktoberfests in Milwaukee (once considered the beer capital of the world) and surrounding area, but arguably the major event is downtown. There’s a brat-eating contest, a Miss Oktoberfest contest, plenty of beer, a bar crawl, music and more.
This might be for you if: You want an urban celebration.
This might not be for you if: You want lots of kid-friendly activities.
15. Oktoberfest — Leavenworth, Washington
Where: 1001 Front St., Leavenworth, Washington
When: Oct. 6-7, Oct. 13-14
Cost: $10 Friday, $20 Saturday, kids 12 and under free
Who recommends it: Funtober
For more information: Leavenworth Oktoberfest
This may well be the closest you’ll get to Germany without stepping onto a plane. The whole town is Bavarian themed (year-round) and set against a mountain backdrop. The fest, celebrated at four venues you can roam, is filled with lederhosen-clad celebrants enjoying German food and drink and music from German, Canadian and American artists. Plus there’s plentiful kid-focused fun.
This might be for you if: You want an authentic experience.
This might not be for you if: You find the outfits corny.
16. Hickory Oktoberfest — Hickory, North Carolina
Where: Union Square, Hickory, North Carolina
When: Oct. 13-15
Cost: Free admission
If you’re a music lover, Hickory Oktoberfest is the celebration you want to attend. The fest has three stages that host musicians ranging from traditional polka to rock and roll, plus a roving musician throughout most of the celebration. Of course you’ll find plentiful food and beer, but there’s also a Kidfest with carnival rides and games, a juried arts and crafts show, contests and other activities.
This might be for you if: You are a true music lover.
This might not be for you if: You prefer an event without lots of kids.
17. ICT Bloktoberfest — Wichita, Kansas
Where: WaterWalk Plaza, 515 S. Main St., Wichita
When: Oct. 13-14
Cost: Free admission
Organizers of this Wichita event say Bloktoberfest combines the family fun of a block party with the beer, sausage and eating contests of a traditional Oktoberfest. The festival offers music, costume contests, wiener dog Olympics and a King Wiener sausage contest (whatever that is).
This might be for you if: You want a kinder, gentler Oktoberfest.
This might not be for you if: You don’t like to see dachshunds embarrass themselves. And speaking of dogs …
18. Dogtoberfest — Las Vegas
Where: Big Dog’s Draft House, 4543 North Rancho Drive, Las Vegas
When: Oct. 28
Cost: Free admission. Various food and drink packages available
The glitzy resorts and restaurants around the Las Vegas Strip and throughout the area host a variety of Oktoberfests, but the Dogtoberfest is a party with a cause. The proceeds from the event are donated to the Animal Foundation to promote awareness of animals in need. And the party is all you’d want in an Oktoberfest — German fare, live music and 40 different brews. Don’t forget to bring a dog leash or toy to donate.
This might be for you if: You want the proceeds to go to a good cause.
This might not be for you if: You want to bring the kids.
19. Cedarburg Oktoberfest — Cedarburg, Wisconsin
Where: Washington Ave., Downtown Historic Cedarburg
When: Oct. 14-15
The Cedarburg Oktoberfest is one of those fests where you may feel odd if you don’t wear lederhosen or a dirndl. The event celebrates all things German with live music, polka music and dancing, a sauerkraut eating contest, costume contests, a live glockenspiel show, a German spelling bee and, of course, authentic German food (Brats! Wiener schnitzel!) and beer, plus wine and soft drinks.
This might be for you if: You want to truly experience German fun in the U.S.
This might not be for you if: You don’t like the polka or oompah music.
20. Das Best Oktoberfest — Baltimore, Maryland
Where: M&T Bank Stadium Parking Lot, 1101 Russell St., Baltimore, Maryland
When: Oct. 14
Cost: Various; check site for details. Kids 12 and under free
Charm City hosts several beer festivals, but Das Best Oktoberfest may be the one to beat. Attendees can try more than 150 international, domestic and local beers plus wine, schnapps and all kinds of foods. Contests include Best Beer Belly and Miss Oktoberfest. And, of course, there is plenty of music.
This might be for you if: You want to party hard
This might not be for you if: You want a more family friendly festival.
21. Harvard Square Oktoberfest — Cambridge, Massachusetts
Where: Harvard Square, 18 Brattle St., Cambridge, Massachusetts
When: Oct. 8-9
The Harvard Square Oktoberfest is in the Ivy League of Bavarian-style festivities. There’s a madcap HONK! Parade (a roaming live music event), and about 30 bands from around the world playing on stages, six beer gardens, an array of German food, a sidewalk sale, all types of kids activities and more. Dancing in the streets is encouraged! Now in its 39th year, Harvard Square Oktoberfest is a Boston-area tradition.
This might be for you: If you want a huge, active celebration.
This might not be for you: If you’re looking for a quiet outing.
What are your favorite fall festivities? Share them in comments below or on our Facebook page.