Oktoberfest around the World
Every year, more than 6 million people from all over the world flock to Munich for Oktoberfest. During this 16-day festival, attendees forgo their native “cheers,” “sláinte,” “skål” and “salud” to get into the German spirit, clinking their steins with a definitive “prost!” While Munich is home to the largest Oktoberfest in the world, we did a little digging and discovered that various versions of the renowned festival exist all over the world. Now that’s a lot of beer.
Oktoberfest has been celebrated in this once-German colony since 1984. The tents (read: expansive beer halls) frequented in Munich are recreated in great detail at the festival halls of Parque Vila Germanica. While nearly 800,000 people voyage to Blumenau each year for Oktoberfest, there are several differences from the traditional celebration in Munich. For example, instead of 16 days, this Brazilian Oktoberfest tacks on two extra days of festivities. The food is a bit different as well — many of the dishes add a South American twist to the traditional German fare.
These Southern Ontario twin cities also trace their roots to Germany. Since its inception in 1969, the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest has become one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in North America, with an annual attendance of more than 700,000 visitors. (Read more about Canada's Top Oktoberfest Celebrations.) This particular version of the festival lasts for nine days in October, starting on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October each year) and ending on the following Saturday. Given this overlap of events, the largest parade commences on King Street on Thanksgiving Day. The Canadian Oktoberfest has also popularized two mascots, Onkel Hans and Tante Frieda, who symbolize the spirit of the festival.
Each year, nearly 4 million visitors come to this port city to partake in the Qingdao International Beer Festival, an event that has come to be dubbed the Asian Oktoberfest. This celebration is the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world. The massive festival typically begins in the first or second week of August and features beer from all over the world, including Tsingtao from China, Beck’s from Germany, Kirin and Asahi from Japan, Carlsberg from Denmark, Corona from Mexico, Heineken from Holland, Tiger from Singapore, Budweiser from the U.S. and more!
During the first three days of Munich’s Oktoberfest each year, Cincinnati dons its German alter ego “Zinzinnati” to host the largest Oktoberfest in the U.S. More than 500,000 visitors attend Oktoberfest Zinzinnati each year to take part in festivities that range from the traditional drinking beer and dancing in tents to more unique events like the Running of the Weiners, the Bratwurst-Eating Contest and the Chicken Dance.
As Germany’s neighbour, Switzerland knows how to throw a mean Oktoberfest. The festivities take place shortly after Munich’s Oktoberfest commences, which grants those who miss the traditional festival a second chance or allows the Munich partygoers to keep the party going in Zurich. This Oktoberfest spinoff is probably the most traditional — Bavarian cuisine and music are the central elements throughout.
Villa General Belgrano, Argentina
The National Beer Festival, or Argentina’s version of Oktoberfest, lasts nine days and has taken place every October since the 1960s. This celebration is the second-largest Oktoberfest in South America, behind Blumenau. Instead of celebrating in the traditional tents, attendees take to the streets, where brass music blasts from numerous speakers, steins of beer are sold from seemingly omnipresent stands and yodelling can be heard throughout.
On the first Sunday of October each year, Oktoberfest gets a tropical makeover. For more than 35 years, thousands of visitors have made the trip to Kingston to consume bratwurst with sauerkraut on the beach and listen to Jamaican-German music. While the dress code is the traditional dirndl and lederhosen, both German and Jamaican beers are served.
For three days in October, the capital of Namibia, part of a former Germany colony, transforms into a German enclave, filled with freshly tapped barrels of Bavarian beer, steins, competitive wood cutting and bands featuring Bavarian music. This celebration is the largest instance of Oktoberfest on the African continent.