Oktoberfest, held each year in Munich (München) Germany, is the World’s largest fair, with well over 6 Million people in attendance each year. In fact, Oktoberfest 2010 had over 6.4 Million visitors who, all told, drank over 7.1 million liters of beer. Wow! I was fortunate to attend Oktoberfest in Germany back in 2009 while on a European vacation with my wife. It was an amazing and very memorable experience. If you have the means, I highly recommend braving the crowds to experience the true Oktoberfest in Germany at least once in your life. I’m sure I’ll be back again when the opportunity presents itself.
For those of us who can’t always get to Germany for this incredible annual festival, there are several local options that will let you enjoy a bit of the feel and flavor of Oktoberfest closer to home. The true dates for Oktoberfest 2012, as you can see from the poster above, are September 22nd to October 7, 2012. Many people are not aware that Oktoberfest always starts, not in October, but in September. It ends the first week of October, and usually earlier than the 7th (click HERE to see the annual dates for Oktoberfest in Germany through 2015).
Here are six places where you can celebrate Oktoberfest right here in Washington State. This is not an exhaustive list of all Oktoberfest celebrations happening in Washington; just a few options for you.
First up in Washington is the Fremont Oktoberfest, which will be held this year from Sept. 21st to Sept. 23rd in the streets of Fremont between Phinney Ave N and 1st Ave NW and N 35th St and N Canal St, with the entrance located at the intersection of Phinney Ave N and N 35th St. There will be a Tasting Garden, a ‘Buxom Beer Garden’, lots of free, live entertainment and even a 5K run and ‘Street Scramble’ scavenger hunt. Head over to the official Fremont Oktoberfest website for full details and more information.
The Tasting Garden at Fremont Oktoberfest will be open for three sessions:
- Friday, September 21, 5:00pm-12:00 midnight*
- Saturday, September 22, 11:00am-12:00 midnight*
- Sunday, September 23, 11:00am-6:00pm*
Last call for the sessions ending at midnight is at 11:15 with taps closing at 11:30 (5:15 & 5:30 for Sunday). Ticket prices are $25-$30 in advance depending on the quantity of tokens selected, and go up the weekend of the event. (visit the ticket info page for pricing details) Your admission price also includes a 5oz tasting mug. Over 40 breweries will be participating this year. Click HERE for the full listing of the breweries and what beers they will be pouring at the festival. Be sure to also follow Fremont Oktoberfest on Facebook.
If you’re closer to the Eastern side of Washington, you might want to forego the Fremont Oktoberfest in favor of Spokane Oktoberfest, which will be held this year on September 21st and 22nd at Riverfront Park in Spokane, WA. This is the 3rd Annual Spokane Oktoberfest, and will see 24 Washington craft breweries pouring over 50 different beers for you to enjoy. Tickets went on sale this past Thursday, 8/23, and can be purchased online from Brown Paper Tickets. The cost is $15 per day in advance or $20 at the gate and includes a commemorative tasting glass and 5 taster tickets. Spokane Oktoberfest will be held in two sessions:
- Friday, September 21- 4 PM- 8 PM
- Saturday, September 22- Noon-8 PM
Click HERE for a full list of breweries you’ll find at this event.
New this year is the 1st annual Renton Oktoberfest, which will be held September 28th – 30th at the Renton Pavilion Events Center. This event, hosted by Manuela Horn from America’s Got Talent, will feature German beers, a Miss Oktoberfest competition and even a David Hasselhoff look-alike contest. Tickets for this event are $15 in Advance (per day) or $20 at the door and will be available from Brown Paper Tickets soon, or you can pick up tickets at the Berliner Pub in Renton. Be sure to check the official website or follow Renton Oktoberfest on Faceook for more information as it becomes available.
Next up is the Washington Oktoberfest festival that I’ve been to the most, Leavenworth Oktoberfest, which will be held in Leavenworth, Washington for three consecutive weekends (Friday/Saturday):
- October 5-6
- October 12-13
- October 19-20, 2012.
This three-weekend festival, billed as “the next best thing to being in Munich!” will have four different venues this year, with loads of free entertainment, great food and great German beer. Also, following the German tradition, where the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg to kick things off, the Mayor of Leavenworth will hold a keg tapping ceremony at 1:00PM each Saturday during the festival. Don’t miss it! Be sure to take some time to also check out the City of Leavenworth itself. It’s a bit of Bavaria, right here in Washington with a real German feel and some great, authentic German restaurants!
Tickets for Leavenworth Oktoberfest will go on sale around September 1st. Follow Leavenworth Oktoberfest on Facebook, check the official website for the link when they become avaiable, or you can simply purchase your tickets at the gate. Prices are $10 for Friday sessions and $20 for Saturday sessions. Kids under 12 are free (some areas are off limits to kids). If you’re planning to go with a large group, be advised that Leavenworth Oktoberfest offers ticket discounts for groups of 20 or more. Click HERE for the Group Sales Form. All group sales tickets must be purchased in Advance. For further information and details, please check the official Leavenworth Oktoberfest website.
If you’re in the South Sound, you might consider checking out Oktoberfest Northwest, which will be held October 5-7 at the Puyallup Fair & Events Center. This 8th annual event, presented by Emerald Queen Casino, will feature beer, games, live entertainment, wiener dog races, a 5K ‘Stein Dash’, a family fun zone and ‘Kinderhaus’ and more. Tickets must be purchased for each day/session and are $10 per session (kids under 12 are free). The event is all ages until 7:00PM, at which point things become 21 and over only. Beers you can expect to enjoy at this festival include: Paulaner Lager, Hoffbrau Oktoberfest, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, Snoqualmie Harvest Moon Fest Bier, Warsteiner Dunkel, Warsteiner Oktoberfest. As a special treat, there will also be a limited run of Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock poured at the official opening ceremony, at 6:15 on Friday evening.
Also, “DON’T MISS the tapping of the Firkin: Join the 2012 Festmaster on Friday, October 5, at 6:15 p.m. as they tap the Oktoberfest Firkin to officially open Oktoberfest NW! Location- Festhalle Stage.”
Last but not least is Anacortes Oktoberfest (Bier on the Pier), which is set for October 5th and 6th at the Port Warehouse (1st and Commercial) in Anacortes, Washington. This 3rd annual event features 30 different breweries over 2 days. Click HERE for the full list of participating breweries. There will be two sessions for Anacortes Oktoberfest:
- Friday, October 5th – 5PM – 9PM
- Saturday, October 6th – 12 noon – 6PM
Tickets are on sale now online and cost $20 per day/session in Advance ($25 at the gate), or you can purchase a 2-day pass for $35 ($45 at the gate), plus service fees. This is a 21 and over event only (no children allowed). You can also purchase tickets by dropping by 819 Commercial Avenue in Anacortes, or calling: 360-293-7911.
So there you have it: Six different ways and places to celebrate Oktoberfest right here in Washington! Tickets for these events often go fast, so don’t delay. Mark your calendar today and decide which event(s) you’ll want to attend this year. Whichever one(s) you decide on, I hope you have a great time. This tims of year is also a great time to stop by one of Seattle’s many German-themed pubs including: Prost Tavern on Phinney Ridge, Prost West Seattle, Feierabend Seattle, Die Bierstube, Schultzy’s Sausage in the University District or the Berliner Pub down in Renton. Any one of these places can make you feel like you’ve transported yourself to Germany for the evening. Prost!
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.