Top 10 Oktoberfests outside Germany

Who would have thought, back in 1810, that we would be marking the wedding anniversary of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen more than 200 years later? Granted, many revellers may not be aware of this as they down beer and guzzle bratwurst, but that’s where the glorious tradition started.

Its roots are in Munich but Oktoberfest fever has spread around the world and in cities such as Ho Chi Minh, Blumenau and Windhoek all beer-lovers raise a glass each autumn in honour of Oktoberfest.

Featured image: Thomas Sauzedde

Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Kitchener-Waterloo pulls out all the stops for nine days each autumn to create the largest Oktoberfest celebration in Canada. Based in Ontario’s twin cities, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is a celebration the entire family can enjoy. The German extravaganza offers more than 40 family and cultural events, including something called the “World’s Most Dangerous Bocce Ball Tournament”. The festivities culminate in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, a colourful spectacle of floats, entertainers and marching bands.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong‘s thriving expat community has been importing lederhosen and sauerkraut for a waterfront Oktoberfest for a couple of decades. The month-long  Marco Polo German Bierfest, sponsored by the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, has been going for over 20 years. Expect three weeks of wonderful fun (every year 40,000 guests turn up for the live music and pork knuckles). The real question isn’t whether or not you should go. It’s “How many beer steins can I fit in my suitcase for the return flight”?

Blumenau, Brazil

Although Oktoberfests are celebrated throughout Brazil, it’s Blumenau’s that provides attendees with a proper German aesthetic. In 1850, German immigrants founded the town, situated in Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. And it’s obvious: the German Village (Vila Germanica) in the city centre features buildings that take visitors out of Brazil and into the middle of Bavaria. A reported 700,000 visitors annually flood the town to eat, drink and dance – to, we presume, an oompah-samba fusion.

Brisbane, Australia

The upside of going Down Under for Brisbane’s Oktoberfest is the spectacular spring weather. And, the sheer joy that comes with holidaying in Queensland, of course. The Aussies do it up right for two weekends each October at Oktoberfest Brisbane, held at the RNA Showgrounds. Reserve a Bavarian VIP Table and invite seven friends (the table seats eight) for a full spread of speciality German dishes, sausages and pretzels, and take-home Oktoberfest beer steins. Bottoms up!

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

The largest Oktoberfest in the United States is situated in … Ohio? Yup, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is a weekend full of fantastic beer, food and entertainment. Pretzels, schnitzel and strudel are washed down with 800 barrels of beer annually. Stock up on complimentary souvenir mugs as you sample Spaten, Erdinger and Konig Ludwig beers and stroll along the streets of downtown Cincinnati. Whatever you do, don’t miss the “Running of the Wieners” and the “World’s Largest Chicken Dance” on Sunday at Fountain Square.

Stockholm, Sweden

Beer festivals are well underway in Norway, Denmark and Iceland by the end of September, but it’s Stockholm’s Beer & Whisky Festival – also known as Stockholm Oktoberfest – that’s made the cut here. Liquid gold is celebrated as well as the hoppy, fizzy stuff for two consecutive weekends, giving visitors the chance to sample libations from almost 100 exhibitors. Sign up for “school” – beer and whisky appreciation – where novices and seasoned drinkers alike get the chance to learn from experts. Thirty-four thousand attendees took part in the festivities at Congress Centre last year, so reserve your tickets as soon as you can.

Dublin, Ireland

Forget Arthur and drink Erdinger this autumn at Oktoberfest Dublin, one of the many beer festivals happening around the Emerald Isle. The Celtic ode to Bavaria features a mouthwatering spread of bratwurst, spatzle, Burgundian ham and other traditional German dishes. Visitors eager to stay late are required to purchase a €6 wristband, which will guarantee a hearty meal to help soak up the beer in the small hours. One euro from every wristband sold goes to help disadvantaged children in Dublin – an excuse in itself to raise a glass.

Denver, Colorado, United States

When Samuel Adams, celebrated American Craft Brewer, is the official sponsor of an Oktoberfest, we question the authenticity of the celebration… However, in Denver, Jagermeister is also a major sponsor – and so we’re up for it. Oktoberfest Denver kicks off with a ceremonial tapping of a Sam Adams Oktoberfest keg of beer and continues for two weekends of live music, tasty cuisine and colourful dress. Coloradans and the quarter of a million visitors who stop by each year take competition very seriously: the Stein Hoisting Competition starts on the first Friday with pre-qualifying rounds and continues for two weekends until the strongest contenders throw down on the following Saturday night on the German Stage.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The German Consulate General adds legitimacy to this lederhosen-clad party, acting as its official sponsor, so sacrifice a trip to the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy a hearty helping of German food and music instead. Oktoberfest Vietnam, held at the Windsor Plaza Hotel, features German games, nightly raffles, all-you-can-eat food, and – of course – beer, that last year attracted more 14,000 guests. Just a little bit smaller than Munich’s guest list of six million, Saigon’s offers a smaller-scale version of a traditional beer garden.

Windhoek, Namibia

The capital of Namibia celebrates its colonial German roots every year at its largest sports club, Sport Klub Windhoek. Rowdy crowds feast on authentic German cuisine over a fun-filled weekend, serenaded by oompah bands flown in from Germany, the former Motherland itself. Waitresses compete to see who can carry the most steins of beer so keep your camera handy. Join expats and locals to wash down the knockwurst, Wiener schnitzel and Bavarian pretzels. The drink? Windhoek Lager, a Euro pale lager that has made its mark worldwide.