Oktoberfest Celebrations Around the World
Fall brings one of the biggest festivals of the year to Germany: Oktoberfest! It’s a folk festival that originated in Munich in the 1800s, and it features traditional Bavarian cuisine, carnival rides, dancing, and of course, plenty of beer.
While Munich is the original home of Oktoberfest, other cities in Germany – and other countries around the world – host their own versions of the festival, so if you can’t make it to Munich, you can still join the fun.
If you're stationed in Germany, following are some of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in Germany, plus a few honorable mentions near military duty stations in other parts of the world.
Photo from iStock/kzenon
Oktoberfest Celebrations in Germany
As the birthplace of Oktoberfest, Munich hosts the biggest festival with an estimated 6 million visitors. Despite the name, most of Oktoberfest takes place in September; the festival dates are 16 September to 3 October 2023. The official website has full details, but the celebration spans 17 festival halls featuring beers from six different Munich breweries. It also includes dozens of carnival rides and booths.
If you have children, note that two Tuesdays of Oktoberfest are officially designated as family days until 19:00, with discounts for kids along with special children’s menus.
The best way to enjoy Munich’s Oktoberfest is to let someone else do the driving. RTT Travel, the travel office at Ramstein Air Base, has three organized trips to the Munich Oktoberfest, so check out their schedule. If you’re stationed elsewhere in Germany, visit your MWR/travel office – most have at least one trip to the Munich Oktoberfest celebration.
Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
In Bavaria and want to keep the party going beyond the official festival dates? Head down to Edelweiss, a military resort less than 60 miles southwest of Munich. They’re hosting their own family-friendly version of Oktoberfest on Sunday, 8 October, complete with beer, a Bavarian buffet, and live music.
Stuttgart’s Oktoberfest, also called the “Cannstatter Volksfest,” runs from 22 September to 8 October 2023. Similar in tradition to the Munich Oktoberfest, Stuttgart’s version is smaller but still attracts about 4 million visitors. It features eight tents, carnival rides, and a market with more than 50 vendors.
The first Sunday of the festival is the “Volksfest parade,” including horse-drawn brewery wagons and colorful costumes. The Stuttgart Oktoberfest also has family days on Wednesdays.
Frankfurt’s Oktoberfest lasts for a full month (6 September to 8 October) and is held in Deutsche Bank Park, a sports stadium only a few miles from Frankfurt airport.
If you want a taste of Oktoberfest on a smaller scale, the Frankfurt festival is a good choice. It offers a full menu of German food and beer, and it’s known to have great live bands. Also, the location is easily accessible using public transportation, and you can even rent traditional German clothing in case you don’t own a pair of Lederhosen!
While not officially an “Oktoberfest,” Bremen’s “Freimarkt” is a major October event. In fact, this city in northern Germany refers to the 17 days of Freimarkt as the “fifth season” of the year.
The 2023 season takes place between 13 and 29 October. More like a carnival than a traditional Oktoberfest, it kicks off with fireworks, and the parade held on the second Saturday of the season features wacky, colorful floats featuring everything from clowns to cartoon characters.
The brightly-lit rides and attractions at this fair, which has been around since the year 1035, are among the main draws. Of course, there’s plenty of beer and traditional German cuisine, but you can also indulge in candied almonds, gingerbread hearts, and smoked eel (a local favorite)!
Photo from iStock/Barish Baur
Oktoberfest Celebrations Outside Germany
London is hosting Oktoberfest events in three different areas in late October/early November. The event on 28 October in Finsbury Square is also a celebration of Halloween. If you’re in the Mildenhall/Lakenheath area, watch Lakenheath ITT for day trips to the events.
Madrid is hosting its first Oktoberfest at the end of September. This mini festival takes place from 28 – 30 September at an indoor sporting arena in the city center. It will feature live music, traditional German food, and Lowenbraü beer.
The city of Yokohama will host their own version of Oktoberfest, happening daily between 29 September and 15 October 2023. The festival is held in the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse and includes traditional German fare, beer, and music.
Oktoberfest is a fun celebration for all ages and the perfect way to kick off the fall season. If you can’t make it to the original Oktoberfest in Munich, you can still share in the tradition elsewhere in the world!
Find more Oktoberfest celebrations at these stateside military bases.