A pilgrimage to Munich to experience Oktoberfest is high up on many traveler’s wish list. Unfortunately going can be a whole other story. It’s overwhelmingly busy in and around Munich during the festival and the cost can be prohibitively expensive if you don’t plan well enough in advance. If you’re bummed not to be heading to Munich for Oktoberfest this year, don’t sulk just yet. You can always celebrate Oktoberfest outside of Germany!

Oktoberfest has outgrown its German roots and become a truly global phenomenon with hundreds of cities and towns opting to host their very own versions of this classic Bavarian beerfest. While these international iterations of Oktoberfest adopt many elements of the Munich original, they are also infused with local culture and their own traditions making them truly unique in and of themselves.

For those of you opting to celebrate Oktoberfest outside of Germany this year, here’s a list of some of the best and most visited international Oktoberfests. PROST!

Oktoberfest Outside of Germany: Premier-of-Ontario-Photograhy

Kichener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Canada

As proud Canadians, we at Departful are staunch believers that our version of Oktoberfest is one of the best outside of Munich. And we’re not alone; up to 1 million visitors will attend the event during its nine day run in October, making this the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany.

Kitchener was such a major hub for German immigration in the mid 19th century that the town was called Berlin until the first World War. A strong German heritage remains to this day, best observed inside the many national heritage clubs scattered throughout the region. These clubs, including the Alpine Club and the Schwaben Club, is where you’ll find the more traditional festivities held during Oktoberfest.

KW Oktoberfest espouses many of the core Bavarian elements that makes the original so popular. Litre steins of beer, hearty German fare, an official keg tapping, and traditional Bavarian dancing will make you think you’ve been transported from southern Ontario to Munich. Yet, this feeling may be fleeting as there are some truly Canadian elements interspersed into the festivities like a barrel rolling competition, a concert aptly named ‘Rocktoberfest’, and a focus on predominantly local beers.

If you are looking to get into the Oktoberfest spirit but can’t quite swing the trip to Germany, perhaps a visit to Oktoberfest Kitchener-Waterloo will satisfy your craving for lederhosen, steins, wursts, and debaucherous good times.

Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest runs from October 7th to October 15th, 2016.


Oktoberfest Outside of Germany: Cincinatti Weiners

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

Oktoberfest Zinzinatti is our top pick for the best American version of this infamous beer festival. Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest is the largest in the U.S. and brings in roughly 600,000 beer lovers each year. Multiple streets are cordoned off in the centre of town during this magical weekend each year, allowing sufficient space for hordes of people to enjoy the many exciting festivities.

Cincinnati festival highlights include an enormous Glockenspiel that plays each evening, the world’s largest ‘Chicken Dance’, and the uber cute ‘Running of the Wieners’ parade, which is where dachshunds dressed in bun costumes race to officially open the festival. Visitors will enjoy a hefty lineup of Bavarian-esque bands performing on seven stages from brass band ‘The Polka Dots’ to 80’s German rock group ‘Rheingold’.

The event is sponsored by US beer giant Sam Adams but some German brews are available, including Warsteiner and Becks. For purists, however, its worth noting that of the original Munich beers are featured at this festival. Beyond the beer, dozens of food vendors will satisfy your craving for yummy German fare like roasted Almonds, Bratwurst with Sauerkraut, Wiener Schnitzel, and plenty of Strudel.

There are several honourable mentions as everywhere in the US seems to wholeheartedly embrace Oktoberfest, with hundreds of cities across the vast country hosting their own spin on the festival. Here is a lengthy list of alternative American Oktoberfest celebrations.

Oktoberfest Zinzinatti runs through the first weekend of Munich’s: September 19th to 21st, 2014 and September 15th to 17th, 2016.


Oktoberfest Outside of Germany: Blumenau Brazil

Oktoberfest Blumenau, Brazil

At first glance, you might mistake Blumenau for a quaint Bavarian town, complete with the iconic style of traditional German architecture. But then you’ll likely notice the beaches and the ads for Brahma and suddenly remember that you’re actually in Brazil. The majority of Blumeanu’s residents have German heritage as its state, Santa Catarina, was a hotbed for German immigration in the later part of the 19th century.

Today, Blumenau is famous for its German village and its annual Oktoberfest celebration, which attracts close to 700,000 each year making it one of the largest celebrations of Oktoberfest outside of Germany. Marking its 31st year in 2014, Blumenau’s beer festival has many traditional Oktoberfesti-sms but has put its own Brazilian spin on things: traditional German dancing is infused with a touch of Samba, cerveja options are limited to local brews including a few German themed Blumenau craft options, and a vibrant mix of German and Brazilian music energizes the crowds over the course of the three week festival.

One major distinction between Blumenau’s version of Oktoberfest and the real deal in Munich is that, in true Brazil fashion, the party never stops with the singing and dancing going on until the wee hours of the morning. There’s an entrance fee but it’s waived if you come in some authentic German garb.

Oktoberfest Blumenau takes place from October 5th to 23rd, 2016.


Oktoberfest Outside of Germany: Hibiya Oktoberfest Tokyo

Hibiya Oktoberfest Tokyo, Japan

Japan may be the place to go if you love Oktoberfest and want to celebrate it all year long as there always seems to be one going on: Akihabara is in March, Hibiya Oktoberfest in May & September, Osaka in September, and Yokohama in October are just a few of your Japanese options.

But in the land of Oktoberfests, Hibiya Oktoberfest in Tokyo’s Chiyoda district reigns supreme. For nearly two weeks, Tokyo’s tribute to Oktoberfest runs amuck in Hibiya park. Get ready to get your fill of oom-pah and sausage, while trying out over 70 different brews from classic Munich favourites like Hofbräu and Spaten to local big guns such as Fujizakura.

Hibiya Oktoberfest features makeshift tents where beer drinkers prost each other as they sing along to a German themed band. Walking along the strip will remind many of being at an authentic German beer fest with vibrant food and drink stands reminiscent of the colourfully designed stalls found at Munich’s Oktoberfest.

Many of the visitors to Hibiya’s Oktoberfest get all decked out in their German tracht to take in the festivities, so be sure to dress the part. And like the Munich version, Hibiya’s Oktoberfest is rammed on weekends.

Hibiya Oktoberfest will be held from September 30th to October 10th, 2016.


Oktoberfest Outside of Germany: Brisbane Australia

Oktoberfest Brisbane, Australia

As one of the largest international contingents at Oktoberfest in Munich, Australians are well adept to hosting their own epic Bavarian beer party. Brisbane hosts the country’s largest Oktoberfest, spanning two weekends of Bavarian and Aussie fused fun.

With traditional folk bands fresh out of Munich, yodellers ready to bring down the tent, and a Beardmeister competition celebrating the most elaborate facial hair, Brisbane proves it can contend with any Oktoberfest, including the original. The massive Oktoberfest tent is highly reminiscent of the real thing, seating thousands of eager, beer loving locals. An outdoor biergarten keeps the party lively throughout the evening, especially given the pleasant spring weather

All beer on offer abides by the official German purity laws but are only available in 1/2 litres so you’ll have to double fist. To help you stay on your feet, Brisbane Oktoberfest has a great selection of classic German dishes like Frankfurters, Leberkäse, and Weisswurst. And remember, Australians love a theme party so expect to be sorely out of place if you don’t arrive in your dirndl or lederhosen.

Make sure that you and your new friends enrol in the Bavarian Strongman competition if you’ve got what it takes to roll beer kegs at lightening speed, hold out a full stein for a hell of a long time, and stuff an insane number of jelly doughnuts down your throat.

Brisbane Oktoberfest is held in 2016 from October 7th to 9th and October 14th to 16th.


Have you been to a great Oktoberfest outside of Germany that you think trumps all the rest? Would you consider going to one of these over the Munich version?


Photos of Oktoberfest outside of Germany courtesy of Flickr, A Shino (CC BY-NC 2.0);Premier of Ontario Photography (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); Victor Pamploma (CC BY 2.0); ogiwaratakao (CC BY 2.0)oktoberfestzinzinnati.com; Oktoberfest Brisbane

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Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth

Lauren Barth co-founded Departful in 2012 and is the Managing Director of Departful Media. Since then she has worked between North America and Europe and has published content in partnership with a variety of tourism boards and businesses based around the world. Lauren is currently based in Toronto, Canada.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.