It’s that time of year to break out your lederhosen and dirndls: Oktoberfest is upon us. In Munich—home of the world’s oldest, largest and most well-known Oktoberfest celebration—kicks off its 180th season, starting September 21st and running until October 6th. This year will see upwards of 6 million people, while an expected 14.5 million pints of beer will be poured. And while Munich is a world away, the United States—with its active German communities and affinity for large parties—is home to some Oktoberfest fêtes that rival the original. Here are our top picks for stateside celebrations.
When: October 17–20
Set in the River West Festival Park along the western banks of the Arkansas River, Tulsa’s Oktoberfest is consistently regarded as one of the country’s top events. Celebrating its 35th year this year, this event is as authentic as it gets, going so far as to fly in several bands from Germany.
A total of 42 domestic and import beers will be available at a number of beer tents, pouring such brews as Warsteiner, Paulaner, Konig and Hofbräu. One area, the Stammtisch Zelt, will feature brews from Tulsa’s Marshall’s Brewing Company, including a special recipe made exclusively for this fest.
Twenty local restaurants are turning out to help festival goers line their stomachs, including Siegi, which will sling a sausage-plate dinner, bratwurst pizza and lanjäeger, a German-style beef jerky. When not chowing down on Kassler Rippchen (grilled, smoked pork chop) or guzzling suds, visitors can shop an international artisan market or take in beer barrel races, among other things.
When: Sept. 20–22
Cincinnati is arguably the world’s second-largest Oktoberfest celebration, after Munich's own. At the free three-day festival, half a million herren and frauen are expected to descend on the city (dubbed Zinzinnati), to indulge in more than 1,300 barrels of beer, 20,000 cream puffs and 80,000 bratwursts (the length of 29 Empire State buildings). In its 38th year, Cincy does it up big, with unique Bavarian-inspired events scheduled throughout the weekend. Star Trek star-cum-social media phenomena George Takei will lead the what’s billed as the world’s largest chicken dance on Saturday, while a Running of the Weiners features a pack of bun-and-fixin' clad dachshunds racing each other. Let’s call it wiener-sprint-zel. Other ‘fest faves include the Beer Stein Race and the requisite ‘Brat Eating Championship. The festival wouldn’t be complete without gluttonous amounts of brew from Sam Adams, Hofbrauhaus, Warsteiner and a dozen others.
When: First three weekends of October
The youngest event on this list—started back in 1998—this Oktoberfest in Leavenworth has already hit its stride. Spread over three weekends in October, this event held in a Bavarian-style village will see an expected 35,000 visitors at its four event venues. A slew of bands from Germany, Canada and the U.S. will provide a soundtrack of oompah and polka while guests imbibe on suds. European-style artisan shops dot the jovial landscape, while traditional German grub is sold throughout. For a little relief, drop off the kinder at a dedicated play area brimming with activity, from clowns to rock climbing walls.