Fall is a special time of year. The air turns crisp and trees across the land display their brilliant colors. In Germany, fall brings a grand festival whose origins date back to the early nineteenth century. We're speaking, of course, about Oktoberfest, the enormous beer festival and carnival held each year in Munich. Unfortunately, Oktoberfest 2021 in Munich is canceled for another year thanks to COVID-19. Over the years Oktoberfest has become a global phenomenon with celebrations found throughout the world. From Canada to Australia, come along as we explore the world's top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
3. Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
7. Villa General Belgrano, Argentina
9. Johannesburg, South Africa
1. Munich, Germany
When Crown Prince Ludwig wanted to celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese in 1810, he chose a grassy field just outside the Munich city gates. Later renamed "Theresa's Meadow," the fairground remains the site for the world's largest Oktoberfest celebrations. Each year from late September to the first weekend in October, upwards of six million people gather to consume nearly 7.7 million liters of beer! Germany's major brewers all sponsor large, temporary pavilions filled with long wooden benches, a raised bandstand, and copious amounts of pretzels and bratwurst. Servers might carry up to twenty liters of beer at a time while weaving past inebriated fairgoers. Meanwhile, elder German musicians play hits like John Denver’s classic "Take Me Home, Country Roads" to the crowd's delight. Outside it's a regular carnaval complete with rides and games. Unfortunately, organizers were forced to cancel Oktoberfest 2021 due to COVID-19. But the grand tradition is sure to return.
2. Blumenau, Brazil
It might come as a surprise to learn that Brazil, the land of samba, is home the world's second-largest Oktoberfest celebration. Blumenau is located near the coast roughly halfway between São Paulo and Porto Alegre. Following a large flood in 1984, the city looked for a way to draw visitors and help rebuild the local economy. Local leaders decided to hold a major festival modeled on the one in Munich. With that, Oktoberfest Blumenau was born. Each year, upwards of 700,000 people fill Blumenau's streets dressed in lederhosen and dirndls. Bavarian-style timber frame construction around Germanic Village Park adds to the atmosphere and sense of merriment. Take a walk by the river and visit the Beer Museum. Enjoy the central city before making your way to the one of the world’s top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
3. Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Kitchener is a lovely Canadian town located just over an hour from Toronto. Kitchener hosts Canada's largest Bavarian festival. The nine-day celebrations culminate on Canadian Thanksgiving Day with a massive parade attracting upwards of 150,000 people. As Canada’s only Thanksgiving Day parade, Kitchener Oktoberfest is akin to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. German heritage and identity remain strong in this part of Canada. Prior to the First World War, Kitchener was actually named Berlin. Many residents still speak German, so it's only natural Oktoberfest celebrations have been incorporated into the local culture. If you visit, raise a stein and enjoy one of the world's top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
4. Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the United States. The 2021 edition runs between September 16th and 19th. During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, German emigres settled in large numbers across the Midwestern United States. Cities throughout the region love to commemorate their German heritage and make a point to display their roots. The carnival atmosphere in Cincinnati makes it a great place to enjoy Oktoberfest. The city's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was once the epicenter of a large Germany working-class community. Many well-preserved nineteenth-century buildings remain as do a raft of new restaurants, brewpubs, and trendy bars.The day before Oktoberfest you can see the Running of the Wieners and cheer on your favorite dachshund as they compete to be named "King or Queen of the Wiener Dogs." America's largest Oktoberfest has much to recommend. We have no trouble calling this one of the world’s top-10!
5. Brisbane, Australia
Oktoberfest in spring? Huh? That's exactly what you get at Oktoberfest Brisbane, the largest such festival Down Under. Running two weekends in mid-October, the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds seem as if they've been transported to Bavaria. Complete with live-music, carnival games, and barrels of delicious beer, this is one fantastic Oktoberfest celebration. Oktoberfest Brisbane features various entertainment and even educational programs. In true Bavarian tradition, Oktoberfest Brisbane has something for the entire family. In addition to carnival rides, kids can enjoy face painting, puppet shows, a reptile show, and more. Be sure to see the Brisbane German choir or find out what you're made of when you participate in the Bavarian Strongman contest. There is an auto show and contest for the best beer brewer as well. With so much to do you can easily spend more than a day here, which is why Oktoberfest Brisbane ranks as one of the world's top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
6. Qingdao, China
Northern China's Shandong Province has an interesting bit of history. Qingdao hosts China's largest annual Oktoberfest celebrations. Part of the Qingdao International Beer Festival, you can enjoy beer from around the world. There is a thoroughly Chinese vibe on display, making this one of the more unique Oktoberfest celebrations on our list. Concerts, beer tastings, and other quirky events like underwater beer drinking are all on offer. Stop by the Qingdao Beer Museum and budget some time for a walk through Zhongshan Park. The city sports a wine museum if you get tired of all the beer. With consumers in China increasingly interested in sampling high-quality imported beverages, the Qingdao International Beer Festival is a popular event. Come see a Chinese take on this German tradition at one of the world's top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
7. Villa General Belgrano, Argentina
Argentina's Oktoberfest is second only to Brazil's in South America. Each year, Villa General Belgrano hosts the country's National Beer Festival. Running for two weekends in October, the small mountain village tucked away in Central Argentina transforms into an Alpine town, attracting thousands of visitors. German pride is on full display and many people don lederhosen and dirndls to celebrate. Be sure not to miss the parade of communities when delegations from Germany, Denmark, Scotland, Spain, the Canary Islands, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Armenia, Ukraine, and more all dress in traditional attire and march through the central parts of town. At the festival grounds, vendors in the beer garden serve up traditional German dishes, such as Frankfurt sausages, smoked pork ribs, and of course bratwurst. Discover another of the world's top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
8. Yokohama, Japan
Japan's premier Oktoberfest does not disappoint. For three weeks in October, Yokohama pulls out all the stops and turns the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse into a giant beer hall. With interior décor meant to mimic that found in Munich beer halls, Yokohama Oktoberfest is a thoroughly convincing substitute. Frist held in 2003, the festival has grown over the years to attract upwards of 130,000 people. Conveniently located along waterfront in Central Yokohama, the party here is easy to reach. With all the traditional German food and live performances by German bands, you can enjoy a thoroughly authentic Oktoberfest experience. Given the proximity to Tokyo, it's easy to add a visit to Yokohama Oktoberfest to your Tokyo adventure. Come discover what makes this Japan's best-known Oktoberfest and why we think this is one of the world's best celebrations.
9. Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg is where you will find South Africa's biggest Oktoberfest celebration. Extending for two weekends in October, ze TOPS at SPAR Bierfest takes place at the large Montecasino entertainment complex located north of downtown. Montecasino's Italian-inspired architecture might be more suggestive of Milan than Munich, but once you’re inside it is all Bavaria all the time. A specially created 4,000-seat Bavarian-style beer hall, adorned with authentic décor, helps cement the illusion. South Africa’s own No. 3 Fransen Street Breweries supplies a range of delicious tasting beer, which you should pair with a pretzel, some cheese, a section of meats, or the traditional Bavarian wrust. The combination of great fun, food, and beer make this an Oktoberfest well worth attending. If you happen to be in the neighborhood in October, drop in to ze TOPS at SPAR Bierfest, one of the world’s top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations.
10. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a fabulous destination that offers visitors a wealth of options. It should come as no surprise that the city hosts a great Oktoberfest party. The Marco Polo German Bierfest runs for 11 days in late-October. Held at the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel in the city's Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood, this Oktoberfest boasts arguably the best urban scenery of any we've profiled. Hong Kong's incredible skyline will be on full display as you delight in dancing to the sounds provided by Die Notenhobler, a German rock band that's been entertaining Bierfest fans since 1994. Come for the daily happy hour and stay as the crowds grow and Victoria Harbour comes alive with light. The authentic feeling paired with the magic found in Hong Kong make the Marco Polo German Bierfest easily one of the top-10 Oktoberfest celebrations anywhere in the world.
As the quintessential German culture event, Oktoberfest celebrations are popular the world over. We hope you've enjoyed this look at the top-10 best places to get an authentic Oktoberfest feel. From the original in Munich to Qingdao in China, chances are there's an Oktoberfest near you. Come discover what all the fun is about, come discover the world's top-10 best Oktoberfest celebrations.