The tradition of Oktoberfest began in Munich, Germany in 1810 when Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Week-long nuptial festivities began on October 12 and ended on October 17, with a horse race concluding the celebration. And the wedding ceremony, of course.
Why is Oktoberfest spelled so funny? Oktober is simply the German spelling for the month of October.
Munich celebrations were repeated every year after that first wedding celebration, giving rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest. Over the years, the character of the festival changed to include an agricultural fair, carousels and other amusements, and beer stands that became large beer halls. The popular horse races fell out of favor and are no longer held today. The beer halls became immensely popular. Go figure.
Over 200 years later, the Munich Oktoberfest is the largest festival on Earth, with over six million visitors from around the world spending nearly a half-billion dollars during the two-week event. Attendees drink million of gallons of beer, eat thousands of pounds of sausage, and consume nearly a half-million spit-roasted chickens. Zum wohl!
Beer-themed Oktoberfest celebrations are held in many other cities around the world, some in October and some in September, which has more predictably favorable weather. The largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany is “Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest” in Ontario, Canada. The largest in the United States “Oktoberfest Zinzinnati” is in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Oktoberfest in the Puget Sound region
2020 Oktoberfest events have been cancelled.
The Seattle area is home to a several beer festivals in the fall. The following are some of the longest running and lrgest festivals, listsed by location. Scroll down for a calendar list of upcoming Oktoberfest events.
Kirkland Oktoberfest is the Seattle area’s largest authentic Oktoberfest and München-style biergarten. It is a 21+ only event.
Leavenworth, WA Oktoberfest is the next best thing to being at the world’s largest beer festival in Munich, Germany. Leavenworth Oktoberfest occurs on the first three weekends of October. Minors are allowed with an adult until 9 pm each night.
Puyallup Oktoberfest Northwest hosts Western Washington’s largest Munich-inspired Festhalle in October. It’s all-ages until 6pm each evening and all day Sunday.
Seattle Fremont Oktoberfest is Seattle’s largest fall beer festival held in September outdoors in the streets of Fremont. This is strictly a 21+ only event, including babes in arms, strollers, and backpacks. Nichts. Nada. None.
Seattle Wallingford Wurst Festival is an Oktoberfest-style celebration that takes place every September at St. Benedict School in a family-friendly neighborhood environment. There’s no charge for admission.
Upcoming Oktoberfest beer or cider festivals
The following list of Oktoberfest events is updated beginning in late summer for fall beer and cider festivals around the Puget Sound region.