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7 of the Biggest and Best Oktoberfest Celebrations in the US

Because you don’t need flights to Munich to feel the Gemütlichkeit.

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Hi, I'm Claire!

Claire Bullen is an award-winning food, drinks, and travel writer and editor who has lived and worked in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, and London. She is the author of The Beer Lover's Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, and the editor at GoodBeerHunting.com. Her writing has also appeared in Time Out New York, The Daily Meal, Pellicle Magazine, and beyond.

Every year, Oktoberfest in Munich attracts some 6 million visitors, making it the world’s largest beer festival—and a bucket-list event for suds-lovers everywhere. But hopping on a plane to Germany isn’t the only way to get into the festive spirit. Communities all across the United States host their own Oktoberfest celebrations, with no shortage of pomp and ceremony, polka and lederhosen, dancing and dirndls. Many of these festivals start as early as mid-September, so start practicing your stein-hoisting and yodeling now. Here are the biggest and best Oktoberfest events in the US.

1. Leavenworth, Washington

A flower-festooned wagon in Leavenworth for Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington is quite the spectacle.Photo Credit: WellyWelly / Shutterstock

The best Oktoberfest in the northwest.

With classic half-timbered buildings and a backdrop of snowy mountain peaks, Leavenworth, Washington looks like it could be set right in the middle of Bavaria. In the 1960s, this historic logging town was rebuilt to resemble a village in southern Germany, and while it’s a popular destination throughout the year, it’s really at its best during Oktoberfest. With live oompah bands and dancing, ceremonial keg-tapping, and a range of locally made brews on draft, the celebration is the Pacific Northwest’s premier Oktoberfest event.

2. Denver, Colorado

A Denver beer being poured in a bar for Oktoberfest.
Denver is a popular craft beer destination, year-round.Photo Credit: Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

A less-traditional but still worthwhile celebration.

Autumn is an unbeatable time to be a beer lover in Denver. The Mile High City hosts the Great American Beer Festival in late September or early October every year, and Oktoberfest rounds out the festivities in suds-swinging style. Denver’s Oktoberfest (first held in 1969) doesn’t have quite as many traditional German trappings as some other events around the country, but what it lacks in lederhosen it more than makes up for with events such as keg-rolling and stein-hoisting contests, a slate of live music acts, and beers made by world-class local craft breweries. Still haven’t slaked your thirst? You can also book a Denver pub crawl.

3. La Crosse, Wisconsin

People in German costumed celebrate Oktoberfest on a bright day in La Crosse.
Wisconsinites know their beer, and that's no different during Oktoberfest.Photo Credit: BVisions Media

This cheese-famous region also does great beer.

You better believe that Wisconsin knows its beer. The Badger State has one of the highest numbers of bars per capita of any part of the country and throws one of the biggest and longest-running Oktoberfest celebrations in the nation. Oktoberfest U.S.A., held in La Crosse every year since 1961, is a bona fide institution born out of the region’s longstanding German heritage. Though it only runs for one weekend, the festival’s carnival-like attractions include several parades, lederhosen games, bands, fireworks and, of course, plenty of beer (both of the traditional and craft varieties). Once you visit, you’ll see why this festival earned the nickname “Das Beste.”

Related: A Brief History of the Wisconsin Fish Fry (and Where To Try It)

4. Fredericksburg, Texas

A family in German Bavarian clothing smiles at Fredericksburg's Oktoberfest party.
Fredericksburg's Oktoberfest celebrations are a family-friendly affair.Photo Credit: Robbyn Dodd

German heritage in the heart of Texas.

When you think of Texas Hill Country, you’re probably more likely to picture 10-gallon hats and Western boots than dirndls. But that just means you haven’t been to Fredericksburg. The city’s German heritage is evident everywhere from its Historic District to its “Polka Capital of Texas” nickname. It also holds an unmissable annual Oktoberfest. Tuba music serenades festivalgoers as they arrive, waltz and yodeling contests pay tribute to tradition, and a communal chicken dance offers a family-friendly way to let loose. And, because this is Texas, you’ll find plenty of Shiner beer, another homage to the area’s German history.

5. Cincinnati, Ohio

A Cincinnati beer hall filled with people at Oktoberfest.
Beer halls are big business year-round in Cincinnati.Photo Credit: LukeandKarla.Travel / Shutterstock

Home to the annual wiener dog race.

Want a stateside Oktoberfest to remember? Make your way to Cincinnati—err, sorry, Zinzinnati. Every autumn, the Ohio city (a longstanding American brewing hub) transforms into a German outpost thanks, in part, to its enormous Oktoberfest celebrations, which attract upwards of 700,000 visitors. Each year, 23,000 soft pretzels, 64,000 sauerkraut balls, and 87,000 brats are devoured at the event, not to mention uncountable mugs of beer. Don’t miss the Running of the Wieners, where 100 dachshunds wearing hotdog costumes race for the title of the city’s fastest dog.

6. Helen, Georgia

Helen in Georgia is known for Oktoberfest, advertised on a street sign on a street.
Helen, Georgia is one of the top spots to celebrate Oktoberfest.Photo Credit: Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock

Keep Georgia on your mind for Oktoberfest.

Billed as the longest-running festival of its kind in the nation, Helen, Georgia’s Oktoberfest has been a Southern staple for more than half a century. The event has all the expected fixtures—beer, bands, and brats—but the real star is the town's traditional Bavarian architecture, which makes the festival feel like a storybook spectacular. This Oktoberfest is held on multiple weekends throughout the autumn, so there’s plenty of opportunity to don your tracht and soak up the ambiance along the Chattahoochee River.

7. Stowe, Vermont

A man in a Bavarian hat pours beer outside at Stowe in Vermont.
Stowe, Vermont is the perfect east coast spot to celebrate Oktoberfest.Photo Credit: Trapp Family Lodge

For a cool spin on a long-standing tradition.

Most Oktoberfest celebrations feature big-name German breweries or other large beer brands, but leave it to craft-beer-loving Vermont to give the festival an indie spin. Von Trapp Brewing—yes, run by that von Trapp family—has hosted an annual Oktoberfest event in the Vermont mountains for over a decade. It features the brewery’s own exceptionally crafted lagers, Austrian-inspired bites including bratwurst with house mustard and eggplant schnitzel, live music, and other games and activities. At this autumnal celebration, the hills are alive with the sound of Gemütlichkeit.

Related: Local Brewer Dan Tomaino's Guide to Vermont

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