There’s nothing that says fall more than Oktoberfest.
Each year at this time, I start dreaming of swilling pints of beer from froth-filled glasses, eating warm, freshly-baked pretzels, and singing ein prosit by the hour with newfound friends.
While Oktoberfest is celebrated around the world, most local Oktoberfest celebrations can’t capture the magic and spirit of the authentic German festival, except Canada’s grand celebration in Kitchener-Waterloo.
I’ve been to Kitchener-Waterloo’s Oktoberfest many times and to the real Oktoberfest in Munchen, Germany. Many people don’t realize that in Germany, Oktoberfest actually kicks off in September. This year it runs from September 17 until October 3 and is expected to attract six million visitors.
In Germany, it is a national celebration with the whole country shutting down or taking vacation to celebrate for two weeks. In Munich, the festival is held on the Theresienwiese fairgrounds with dozens of beer tents, performance stages, carnival rides and attractions to keep festival-goers entertained between pints.
The first day of Oktoberfest in Munich, we arrived at the fairgrounds around 1 p.m. That’s another big difference between Germany and our Oktoberfest celebrations—in Germany, many of the events are in the afternoon, so you start drinking early. We sat down in one of the festival tents and quickly made friends with a group of German men who were visiting from out of town.
Fraulein servers in traditional colourful Bavarian costumes, their biceps bulging out of their costumes, wound their way through the crowded tables, carrying six gigantic beer steins in each hand. On stage an oom pah pah band played polka music. There was lots of toasting, singing and every hour, you’d sing ein prosit, and raise a hearty toast and chug to the cry of Oans, Zwoa, G’suffa!
Truth be told, I don’t remember how we made it home that night, but I do remember the memories that have lasted a lifetime.
Here are three Oktoberfest celebrations in Ontario to check out:
- Kingston-Waterloo: on now through to October 15. While the Concordia Club is generally considered the most authentic hall, both the Alpine Club and Transylvania Club provide authentic experiences. Bingeman’s used to be more the draw for the university students in town.
- Prince Edward County Oktoberfest: September 30-October 1
- Toronto Oktoberfest: September 30-October 1 at Ontario Place
This week’s #HappyAct is to get your leiderhosen on and raise a toast to fall. Ein prosit!