For a little over two weeks in September and the start of October, the city of Munich — the one in Bavaria, Germany — sees a flood of 6 million visitors who want to celebrate beer, bratwurst, pretzels, polka and lederhosen (or dirndl for the ladies). Yes, we just described the famous Oktoberfest festival.
If you can’t make it to Munich, however, don’t despair. Arizona hosts plenty of Oktoberfest festivals that include all of the above and more. While they typically only last a few days, they take place from mid-September to early November, which means means you can enjoy Oktoberfest for almost two months, if you’re so inclined.
- Oktoberfest originally began on October 12, 1810, as a marriage celebration of Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese Charlotte Luise of Saxony-Hildburghausen.
- Oktoberfest eventually moved to September to take advantage of the warmer evening weather.
- The Munich Oktoberfest always takes place at Theresienwiese (“Therese’s meadow”), which is the same meadow where the original marriage ceremony happened. After the wedding, they renamed the meadow in honor of Princess (later Queen) Therese.
- Locals shorten Theresienwiese to “Wiesn” and refer to Oktoberfest as “die Wiesn.”
- The Wiesn “meadow” covers 4.5 million square feet, or 103 acres. In size that puts it between the Arizona State Fairgrounds at 80 acres and the 140-acre Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
- In 2015, Oktoberfest revelers consumed 7.3 million liters of beer (almost 2 million gallons), which would fill nearly three Olympic swimming pools or around 40,000 bathtubs.
- Officially, Oktoberfest lasts for 16 days and ends the first weekend in October. However, if the final day falls before October 3 (aka German Unity Day), then one or two extra days are added. This year, the festival will last 17 days.
Now with your appetite whetted, here are Arizona’s Oktoberfest festivals. We will add more as we find them.
Fountain Hills Oktoberfest
Enjoy brats, schnitzels, apple strudel, pretzels and more with the famous Fountain Hills fountain as a backdrop. Don’t forget the beer, courtesy of award-winning Warsteiner. In fact, show up on Friday at 7 p.m. for a tapping of the limited-edition Warsteiner Braumeister Red Bock Beer.
In addition to food and drink, Fountain Hills will fly in the Die echten Waldbaum Band from Germany for live music. Plus, take part in a best German costume contest, the beer stein holding contest and other fun contests and events. Kids can play for free in the kids’ area with bounce houses and a climbing wall.
Times: Friday, Sept. 30 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 1 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Fountain Park, 12925 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills
San Tan 9th Annual Oktoberfest
Contrary to the name, this Oktoberfest doesn’t actually take place in San Tan; San Tan Brewing company sponsors it. As such, you can expect plenty of beer. Plus, enjoy beer games like Beer Pong and Pretzel Toss, the Von Hanson’s brat eating contest, a family zone and live music from Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, Reel Big Fish and more.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 1, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Location: AJ Chandler Park, 3 S. Arizona Ave. Chandler
Cost: $10 at Bashas’, $12 online or at San Tan Brewing Company, $15 at the gate
Desert Rose Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest and pizza don’t seem to go together, but Desert Rose Pizza & Gastro Pub will try. They’re serving up traditional Oktoberfest food and German beer. Plus, you can participate in the costume contests, beard contests, stein-holding contest, a wiener race and more.
Times: Saturdays, Oct. 1, 8 and 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Desert Rose Pizza & Gastro Pub, 6729 N. 57th Dr., Glendale
Cost: Free admission
Flagstaff 8th Annual Oktoberfest
Head up to Flagstaff for a day of beer, wine, food and live polka music. In addition, there will be games, a beer stein holding contests, and a Mug Root Beer Garden for the kids.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 1, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Wheeler Park, 212 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff
3rd Annual Clarktoberfest
Clarkdale freely admits that its Clarktoberfest doesn’t bear many similarities to a traditional Oktoberfest, aside from the beer — courtesy of 10 local breweries. There will also be local wines if you like your alcohol made from grapes.
In addition, you can eat food from local vendors, hear live music from local musicians, browse arts and crafts and let the kids play in the games area.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 1 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: On Main Street in Clarkdale, between North 9th Street and North 10th Street
5th Annual Oktoberfest @ Westside Lilo’s Cafe in Seligman
Halfway between Flagstaff and Kingman on Highway 40 seems like an out-of-the-way spot for Oktoberfest, but Westside Lilo’s Cafe in Seligman remains a popular stops for travelers. Also, the founder, Lilo, grew up in Germany, so she knows a thing or two about Oktoberfest.
For Oktoberfest, the cafe brings in the Oompah Meisters Trio from Los Angeles. Then they set out authentic German cuisine and Oktoberfest Bier imported from Munich.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 1 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: 415 Chino St, Seligman, AZ (on Route 66)
Cost: Free entry
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley Oktoberfest
There’s no snow yet, but you can still head up to Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley to celebrate Oktoberfest with German beer, traditional German food, a live German band with dancing and family fun.
Times: Weekens, Oct. 1, 2, 8 and 9 from noon to 5 p.m.
Location: 10300 Ski Run Rd., Mt. Lemmon, Az
Cost: Free entry
Salt River Brass Oktoberfest
If your favorite part of Oktoberfest happens to be the music (forget beer and brats), then check out this concert by the Salt River Brass. They’ll play traditional waltzes, polkas and other German-inspired music.
Times: Sunday, Oct. 2 at 3 p.m.
Location: Mesa Arts Center, One East Main St, Mesa, AZ
Cost: $17 to $24 for adults,
Ales On Rails
As a special treat for Oktoberfest, the Verde Canyon Railroad near Sedona offers Ales On Rails. Start with a traditional German meal and music at the train depot, then hop aboard for a scenic ride. While you look at the scenery, enjoy beer from Oak Creek Brewery and other local ales, lagers, porters and stouts.
Times: Thursdays through Sundays, Oct. 6 to 30, starting at 11 a.m.
Location: Verde Canyon Railroad, 300 N. Broadway, Clarkdale
Cost: $11 lunch, $10 for the beer glass with five beer tastings, plus train fare ($64.95 to $89.95)
9th Annual Brews and Brats Oktoberfest
If you can’t go far enough for beer and bratwurst, then take a look at this event in Kingman sponsored by the Kingman Route 66 Rotary Club Foundation. It features beer from the Black Bridge Brewery, bratwurst and sauerkraut, sodas, live entertainment, games, and more under something called “the Big Tent.” You can also browse craft vendors and other vendors who will be on hand.
Times: Friday, Oct. 7 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Locomotive Park, 101 W. Beale St., Kingman
Cost: Free (except for gas money)
Casa Grande Main Street Oktoberfest
Take a jaunt down to Casa Grade for a Friday evening of fun with authentic German food and live polka music. Departing from the traditional Oktoberfest events, Casa Grade also hosts a classic car show, Live! in the Alley Open Mic and dancers.
Times: Friday, Oct. 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Florence Street between 2nd and 4th, Casa Grande, AZ
Old World Oktoberfest in Peoria
For a taste of the Old World, head over to Peoria for a day of fun. You can eat pretzels, brats and more traditional German cuisine — plus other types of food — and beer from Braumeister. Show up at 1 p.m. for the official keg tapping and 8 p.m. for a special Braumeister Warsteiner tapping.
In addition to the food and drink, there will be competitions from stein holding to alpine-horn blowing, plus polka music by German band Die echten Waldbaum and dancing. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., enjoy the First Ever New World Rocktoberfest, which features a mix of rock songs and polka.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Peoria Centennial Plaza, 9875 N. 85th Ave., Peoria
Cost: $5 for 21 and older, 20 and under free
12th Annual Oktoberfest for Parkinson’s
This block party-style Oktoberfest lets you party with live music, brats, craft ales and fine wines while contributing to Parkinson’s research through the Baehr Challenge. Also available will be authentic Oktoberfest games, a raffle with the grand prize of a trip for two to Sonoma Valley, California.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 8 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: 5310 E. High St., Glendale, just east of the Desert Ridge Marketplace
Cost: $20 pre-sale, $30 after Oct. 1, $40 at the gate; always $20 for people with Parkinson’s and their care partner
The 2016 Four Peaks Oktoberfest in Tempe
The biggest Oktoberfest bash takes place right in Tempe. This three-day extravaganza features a number of food vendor tents serving authentic German cuisine and less German fare like tacos and general fair food. You can drink a wide range of beers from Four Peaks Brewery, along with international and domestic selections — also wine. There will be bands galore that range from traditional polka to local bands to rapper Lil John.
For fun, there will be several carnival rides and midway games. There will also be an area for kids called the Landings CU Kinderfest.
Times: Friday, Oct. 7 from 5:00 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, Oct. 8 from noon to midnight; Sunday, Oct. 9 from noon to 6:00 p.m.
Location: Tempe Beach Park, 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
Cost: $7.57 single day (pre-sale), $12.97 three-day (pre-sale); $10 single day (at gate); Children 12 and under free with paid adult
St. Rose Oktoberfest
Don’t let the fact that this Oktoberfest celebration comes courtesy of the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Catholic Parish throw you. In addition to traditional German cuisine, it will include German beer, domestic beer and margaritas.
On top of that, you can enjoy live polka music, the Live Rhythm and Blues Show from the Arizona Blues Company, a petting zoo, a pumpkin patch, a video game truck, a live auction, a free puppet show by Great Arizona Puppet Theatre and 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday. Capping the event will be a fireworks display.
Times: Friday, Oct. 14, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 15, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Location: 2825 W. Rose Canyon Circle, Anthem
Haus Murphy’s Oktoberfest 2016
For Oktoberfest, Haus Murphy’s flies in Die Guggenback Buam from Heidelberg (the one in Germany) to perform live music. While you listen, you can chow down on giant pretzels, brats, eisbein and German beer. Plus, try your skill in the bierstein-holding contest or the alpenhorn-blowing contest.
Times: Friday, Oct. 14; Saturday, Oct. 15; Friday, Oct. 21; Saturday, Oct. 22; Opens at 4 p.m. all days
Location: 5739 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale
Cost: Depends on what you buy
Red Rocks Oktoberfest
What’s better than a trip to gorgeous Sedona? How about a trip where you drink the best beer from 12 local breweries? In addition to the craft beer, enjoy food from the food trucks and live music by Polka Katzen from Flagstaff followed by Naughty Bits from Sedona. According to the website, kids and pets are prohibited — 21 and older only.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 22 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Location: Posse Grounds Park,
Cost: $25 pre-sale; $30 at the gate; $200 for a group of 10; A ticket gets you a half-liter mug and a half-liter of beer. Additional half liters are $5.
If you aren’t Oktoberfested out yet, take a trip to the Goodyear Municipal Airport and pretend you flew to Munich. You’ll eat authentic Bavarian food, drink authentic Weihenstephaner (“gesundheit!”) Oktoberfest Beer from the Bavarian State Brewery, listen to the authentic Munich band Handgschabt and watch an authentic Schuhplattler (folk dance) performance.
Times: Saturday, Oct. 29 from 5 p.m. to midnight
Location: Goodyear Municipal Airport, 1658 S. Litchfield Rd., Goodyear
Cost: $65 (includes all-you-can-drink soft drinks, two free beers, a beer mug and T-shirt. Proceeds go to New Life Center)
If you want to talk beer, show up at the Oktoberfest put on by the Arizona Society of Homebrewers. You can sample home brews from around Valley or try drinks from participating breweries. Or, you can bring your own brew to share.
There will be a potluck, as well as food provided. It will also feature a raffle and prize wheel, the award ceremony for the Fall Classic Homebrew Competition and the Junior Soda Competition.
Times: Sunday, Nov. 6 from noon to 6 p.m.
Location: Tempe Kiwanis Park (Ruben Romero Ramada), 6111 S. All America Way, Tempe
Cost: Free for 2016 ASH members; ASH memberships cost $35 to $60
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org