October is around the corner, which means it's time for pretzels, folk music and most importantly, beer. Oktoberfest is a tradition that's been celebrated in Munich, Germany since 1810 when a party was thrown to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Horse races that followed the wedding celebration marked the beginning of the annual tradition. All the drafts of beer served during Oktoberfest must originate from one of Munich's six breweries - Augustiner, Hofbrau Munchner, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Lowenbrau and Spaten-Franziskaner.
The event starts on September 20th, when the mayor taps the first keg at 12 noon and goes until October 5th. More than 6 million people from around the world attend every year, with almost 7 million liters served during the days it takes place. In fact, this year Munich welcomed over one million people on the opening weekend! The festival also includes amusement rides and attractions, as well as traditional food vendors and entertainment.
Sounds like fun, huh? Well, don't worry, if you can't make it to Germany this year, there are tons of Oktoberfest celebrations in the U.S. too.
If you're in the Hudson Valley area, you should check this one out. I went last year and it was a lot of fun. Bear Mountain State Park is a beautiful area located on the west side of the Hudson River. So, you can enjoy German beer, food and entertainment, as well as the fall foliage. It's held every weekend from September 13th to October 26th from noon to 6pm.
For other locations to celebrate in the New York area, check out the Ultimate Fall Guide to Beer.
This is the largest authentic Oktoberfest celebration in the country covering six blocks on the streets of downtown Cincinnati. Around half a million people attend every year. There are 7 stages for polka music, 30 food vendors and 1.6 million ounces of beer are consumed every year.
Chicago hosts Oktoberfest in grand style with over 25 organized, individual fests throughout September and October. The St. Alphonsus Oktoberfest (today through Sunday) stands out for its weekend-long celebration of German life in and around the magnificent St. Alphonsus church in Lakeview.
If you're looking for an Oktoberfest near you, here are the top 2014 Oktoberfest Celebrations in the U.S.
Why not throw your own Oktoberfest party at home? Start by stocking up with some of the traditional beers, make a great playlist, get the necessary food and snacks (pretzels - the larger the better - sausages of every variety, roasted chickens, sauerkraut and apple strudel. Here are 25 Oktoberfest recipes to get you started.), and finally, you can't forget the liter size beer mugs. Encourage guests to come dressed in traditional German outfits and have a costume contest. You could even set up a table for guests to decorate their own Lebkuchen hearts which are large gingerbread cookies that are found in almost every open air market in Germany.
Let us know how you'll be celebrating Oktoberfest this year. And of course, be safe and enjoy! Cheers!
Image courtesy of Gozde Otman