11 Outrageous Oktoberfest Celebrations Around the World

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It’s tough to believe the world’s largest annual festival started as a simple wedding celebration. The first Oktoberfest dates back to Oct. 12, 1810, when Prince Ludwig of Bavaria wanted to share the celebration of his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen with his people. The first Oktoberfest attracted roughly 40,000 attendees, and although that was a huge turnout for the time, it hardly compares to the 6.4 million celebrators who flocked to Munich from around the world last year.

Oktoberfest celebrations have become so popular they’ve grown far beyond Munich to Ho Chi Minh City, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brisbane and towns big and small around the world. These 11 Oktoberfest celebrations are some of the most exciting out there, pairing traditional Bavarian customs with their own unique flair.

#1. Munich — Germany

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Munich is the home of the original Oktoberfest, and it’s doubtful that any of the other elaborate Oktoberfest events around the world will ever be able to top it. Join more than 6 million other visitors for 16 days of concerts, costume parades, dancing, classic Bavarian foods and jam-packed beer tents.

Dates: Sept. 20 – Oct. 5, 2014

#2. Kitchener-Waterloo — Canada

Photo credit: Premier of Ontario Photography
Photo credit: Premier of Ontario Photography

The world’s second largest Oktoberfest is held right here in our own backyard. The twin cities of Kitchener (which was named Bavaria from 1833 to 1916)¬† and Waterloo, Ontario, attract over 700,000 visitors for classic German festivities, sausages, pretzels and tons of beer. Kitchener-Waterloo is the place to be this Oktober if you’re looking for an authentic Munich Oktoberfest experience without the pricey plane ticket.

Dates: Oct. 10-18, 2014

#3. Hong Kong — China

Photo credit: istolethetv
Photo credit: istolethetv

Although the title may be a little confusing, the Marco Polo German Bier Fest in Hong Kong has been named the longest-running outdoor beer fest on the continent. The Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel attracts more than 50,000 visitors for their own version of Oktoberfest featuring authentic German foods, activities and plenty of German beer. Over 71,000 litres of beer is expected to be consumed at this year’s 23-day-long event.

Dates: Oct. 17 – Nov. 8, 2014

#4. Cincinnati — United States

Photo credit: Weekend!
Photo credit: Weekend!

The United States’ biggest Oktoberfest takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been dubbed “Oktoberfest Zinzinnati” since 1974. And although German foods and beers are huge parts of the festival, the annual “Running of the Wieners” dachshund race is one of the most anticipated events.

Dates: Sept. 19-21, 2014

#5. Ho Chi Minh City — Vietnam

Photo credit: Stephen McGrath
Photo credit: Stephen McGrath

The 22nd annual Oktoberfest Vietnam is set to bring more beer, brats and German culture to Ho Chi Minh City than ever this year. The event’s organizers sought to introduce the Vietnamese to German culture over two decades ago, and the event has turned into a must-visit event in the country’s largest city. The purchase of a ticket gets you free-flowing beer in a souvenir German stein, a buffet of traditional Bavarian eats, themed games and a concert by the Gaukis Bavaria band.

Dates: Oct. 10, 11 and 14-18

#6. Dublin — Ireland

Photo credit: Tobias Abel
Photo credit: Tobias Abel

It’s no secret that the Irish know a bit about beer, but Dublin residents and visitors trade their Guinness for Bavarian brews during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. A stein lifting contest, yodel competition, Bavarian costume wearing and Fliegerlied dances are just a few of the many exciting activities waiting for you in Dublin this fall.

Dates: Sept. 18 – Oct. 5

#7. Brisbane — Australia

Photo credit: Oktoberfest Brisbane
Photo credit: Oktoberfest Brisbane

Brisbane is the home of Australia’s largest Oktoberfest celebration offering over 30,000 attendees an authentic German celebration. The festival provides two weekends of day and night festivities that can be fun for the whole family or perfect for an adults-only night out. Traditional German food, drinks, yodelers, Bavarian bands, fashion shows, cow bell ringers and tons of other classic German activities will take place throughout the festival.

Dates: Oct. 10-12 and 17-19, 2014

#8. Blumenau — Brazil

Photo credit: Vitor Pamplona
Photo credit: Vitor Pamplona

Blumenau, also known as Brazil’s “Little Germany,” was founded by the German philosopher Hermann Bruno Otto Blumenau as an agricultural colony in 1850. The town’s unique heritage makes it the perfect place for a German beer festival, and with over 500,000 visitors enjoying the Oktoberfest entertainment, food and drink each year, there’s no doubt the 30-year-old festival is a success.

Dates: Oct. 8-26, 2014

#9. Johannesburg — South Africa

Photo credit: Adrian Sevitz
Photo credit: Adrian Sevitz

South Africa hosts Oktoberfests in three locations — Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town — in September, October and November each year. This year’s “Joburg” Oktoberfest will take place over the course of two weekends in October at the Montecasino Outdoor Event Area. Saddle up at an authentic wooden bier bench and enjoy your fill of traditional Bavarian food and beer or take part in a number of exciting Oktoberfest challenges. This biggest beer fest in South Africa is expected to be bigger than ever this year.

Dates: Oct. 17-19 and 24-26, 2014

#10. Belgrano — Argentina

Photo credit: Benjamin Dumas
Photo credit: Benjamin Dumas

Argentinians have been celebrating their version of Oktoberfest — the National Beer Festival — in Villa General Belgrano since 1964, and the party gets more extravagant every year. Eleven days of beer, sausages, smoked ribs, parading, costumes and tons of other German food, drink and activities make for one of Cordoba’s most anticipated yearly events.

Dates: Oct 3-13, 2014

#11. Fredericksburg — United States

Photo credit: AjDele Photography
Photo credit: AjDele Photography

The small town of Fredericksburg, Texas, is probably more well-known for its incredible Oktoberfest celebration than anything else, but the town doesn’t completely overrun its Tex-Mex traditions with German culture. The Fredericksburg Oktoberfest — unlike any others in the world — serves the area’s characteristic Tex-Mex food alongside German favorites like sausage, sauerkraut and giant pretzels. The festival’s 45-vendor marketplace and 50 beer vendors are must-visits for festival goers.

Dates: Oct. 3-5, 2014

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a travel writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C, Mexico and around the world. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and surfing new waves.

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