It’s official! You can now rightfully put away your shorts, flip flops and every other piece of hot weather garb you own. It’s now time to pull out the long-sleeve shirts and jeans and grab an on-the-go pumpkin spice mocha from your nearest coffee shop.
For many in the United States, fall is characterized by overzealous American football fans, magnificent displays of color and pumpkin-carving contests. The crisp temperatures and brightly colored leaves are characterize the season sandwiched between the sweat-drenching days of summer and the body-numbing subzero months of winter.
While homecoming football games, apple picking tours, corn mazes, and trick or treating events quickly fill many weekends, one event that has become an international sensation is Oktoberfest.
This 16-day event originated in Munich, Germany but has spread throughout the world. The festival, which began in 1810, attracts more than 6 million people each year. As with many festivals and celebrations, Oktoberfest is largely focused around drinking and eating. There are various beer and food tents offering traditional German fare, including sauerkraut and sausages.
However, there is more to do and see during Oktoberfest than simply consume large amounts of beer and food. There are plenty of rides, parades and and live music events for the entire family to enjoy. And, of course, much of the entertainment comes from simply watching people pass by in traditional Bavarian costumes, including the famous lederhosen!
But the Germans are not the only ones to partake in this rowdy celebration. Even those with just a smidge of German blood running through the veins have found an excuse to hitch a ride on the Oktoberfest bandwagon.
Wherever you are in the world, you just might be able to find an Oktoberfest near you…
In addition to their famous mounties and bitter-cold winters, Canada is also home to the world’s second largest Oktoberfest. The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest features a 5K run, a fashion show and a bike race, amongst other activities. This popular event draws a crowd of nearly 1,000,000 people.
You might be surprised to learn that mixed in with Brazilians swift salsa moves are some traditional German folk dances. The town of Blumenau, which was founded in 1850 as a German colony, has the largest Oktoberfest in Brazil. The first Brazilian Oktoberfest began in 1984 as a way to collect funds to rebuild after a recent flood…it soon became an annual tradition.
United States – Dates vary
With a large number of U.S. citizens with German roots, the United States has become a popular place for Oktoberfest celebrations. The largest, which occurs in Cincinnati, Ohio (or Zinzinnati, in this case), features some interesting events, including the World’s Largest Chicken Dance and a dog race dubbed “Running of the Weiners.” Several other U.S. cities, from San Francisco to LaCrosse, Wis., also host Oktoberfest.
Spread out over two weekends, Brisbane’s Oktoberfest is hosted by two Australian-German families. Australia’s largest celebration, with around 30,000 visitors, is in its 5th year of the event. One of the highlights is the Bavarian Strongman Competition, featuring teams of three that compete in various events like keg rolling and donut eating.
So why not join the Germans in the next few weeks? Crack open a beer and show off your lederhosen (if you have some!) and join in the festivities happening in your area. If nothing else, drive to your nearest grocery store and stock up on some traditional German goodies.
Have you been to an Oktoberfest celebration? Tell us about it in the comments section below!