Some of the world’s biggest beer festivals are on tap this fall in the United States and Europe. They’re great vacation destinations if you’re looking for fun and a refreshing brew.
When it comes to beer festivals, most people think of Munich. The city’s 187th Oktoberfest runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 3. The celebration kicks off with two days of parades featuring bands, marchers in traditional costumes and the magnificent carts of Munich breweries, drawn by draft horses. At the Oktoberfest grounds, you’ll find more than a dozen beer tents, some of which have room for up to 10,000 people who come to eat, drink, and soak up Bavarian culture. Each has its own atmosphere and in addition to beer, they serve favorites like soft pretzels, bratwurst, dumplings and one of the most popular Oktoberfest meals, Steckerlfisch, grilled fish on a stick. For a break from the crowds, smaller beer tents have become festival favorites.
If you have a trip to London on your travel bucket list, you can combine it with a visit to the city’s Oktoberfest. The celebration takes place across three weekends: Oct. 20-23, Oct. 27-30 and Nov. 3-5. You can dance and sing along to traditional music from German bands, enjoy a bratwurst and try beer transported in tanks from Bavaria that will be freshly tapped at the festival. The October parties will take place under a giant tent, while the November one will be held indoors. To get into the spirit, you can rent traditional Bavarian costumes.
America’s largest Oktoberfest will be held Sept. 16-18 in downtown Cincinnati, where you can listen to German-style oompah bands while enjoying food and beer. First held in 1976, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati draws more than 700,000 people and serves as a showcase for southwest Ohio’s rich German heritage. The festival usually includes some offbeat events like a dachshund race, beer barrel roll, beer stein carry and bratwurst-eating contest.
The Great American Beer Festival, which takes place Oct. 6-8 in Denver, is the premier U.S. beer festival and competition. You’ll be able to tour the country’s craft beer landscape one ounce at a time, with more than 1,500 beers from more than 500 breweries to sample. Running along with the festival, acclaimed chefs from around the country will create unique small bites that go perfectly with a variety of craft beers.
About two hours north of Atlanta, the Georgia mountain town of Helen is famous for its Bavarian-style architecture. The town’s Oktoberfest, a tradition for more than 50 years, takes place from Thursday to Sunday through September, and daily from Sept. 29 to Oct. 30. You’ll find a selection of German and American beers, in addition to food and music, at the riverside Festhalle. Several of the town’s restaurants also serve German food. Nearby attractions include the Anna Ruby Falls Recreation Area and vineyards along the Unicoi Wine Trail.