On October 12, 1810, the world’s largest “Volksfest” (German for “people’s festival’’) was created in Germany, giving people around the world a reason to celebrate German culture and most importantly, food and beer.
OktoberFest is an annual festival in Munich, a city in Bavaria located in Germany. It is typically a 16 to 18 day festival that runs from mid- or late- September to around the first Sunday in October.
As to why the festival is called OktoberFest despite being mostly celebrated in September, there is a reasonable explanation. The first festival in 1810 was to celebrate the marriage between the Bavarian prince and later King Louis I to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. It ran for five days and concluded with a horse race that came to be called “Thereseinwiese” (“Therese’s green”). In the following years, the celebrations were repeated and Oktoberfest was prolonged and moved to September. By moving the festival up, it allowed better weather conditions and allowed participants to further enjoy the outdoor activities.
Throughout the years, Oktoberfest has made its way overseas to the United States, where it is celebrated with daily or weekly events in September and October. Participants in various Oktoberfest events can enjoy authentic German delicacies, such as bavarian pretzels, roasted meats and of course, beer. The festival is widely known for the large amounts of beer consumed in both Germany and the United States. Three years ago, it was estimated that 7.3 million liters of beer were consumed by the end of that year’s Oktoberfest.
Locally, many businesses and eateries celebrate Oktoberfest in various unique ways. Both adults and children alike can participate in these festivities, allowing everyone to enjoy the festival in different ways.
Settle Down Easy Brewing is hosting a three-weekend celebration for Oktoberfest. Starting on the weekend of September 17th and lasting until the weekend of October 1st, the Falls Church brewery allows participants to enjoy foods such as bratwurst and pretzels and beer for only $10. The second weekend of this celebration includes Oysterfest, where 4,000 oysters “will be shucked and served” for $1 each. The last weekend presents Bratoberfest, where people can snag two bratwurst tacos from local restaurant El Tio Tex-Mex Grill for $10, as well as drinks. For more information, visit settledowneasybrewing.com.
Audacious Aleworks in their Falls Church brewery, is running food and drink specials to celebrate Oktoberfest, beginning on September 16th and lasting until October 2nd.
Participants can buy an Oktoberfest “stein” (“a large earthenware beer mug”) filled with one of the taproom’s six Oktoberfest featured beers for only $12. If one brings back the stein on a future date during the festival, the brewery will offer a 20-ounce pour for the 16-ounce price. Oktoberfest-themed platters will be served each weekend as well. For more information, visit audaciousaleworks.com.
Port City Brewing Company offers Oktoberfest participants the chance to indulge in German food and the company’s craft beers, as well as raise money for a good cause. Port City Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest celebration includes a fundraiser for Senior Services of Alexandria, a nonprofit supporting local seniors in need with Meals on Wheels, transportation and other services. There are two events being hosted by Port City Brewing Company for Oktoberfest this year: Wunderfest and Dogtoberfest. Wunderfest on September 17th allows people to enjoy live music and compete for prizes, while Dogtoberfest on October 1st features dog-friendly activities. For more information, visit portcitybrewing.com.
Bronson Bier Hall in Arlington will be having sample selections from local breweries such as Port City Brewing Company, as well as the “tapping” of a Weihenstephaner Ceremonial Keg. Their celebration of Oktoberfest will take place on September 24th and will feature various live music performances and a beer stein holding contest. For more information, visit bronsonbierhall.com.
The Boro in Tysons is celebrating Oktoberfest with music and food on September 17th. People can listen to the TKO band play music during a polka fest held at The Boro’s Sandlot, play games in Boro Park, while younger participants can make pretzel necklaces. The first 150 attendees can receive a branded beer mug. For more information, visit theborotysons.com.
Caboose Commons in Fairfax is celebrating Oktoberfest and their 4th birthday by hosting Hoptoberfest on September 17th. Located in the Mosaic District, the festivities will be held on the patio of Caboose Commons and features live music, a brewing workshop, beer tastings, food and a bounce house. For more information, visit caboosebrewing.com.
Courhaus Social in Arlington is hosting an eight-hour celebration of Oktoberfest on September 17th. Participants can listen to live music, win gym gift cards at a stein-holding competition, receive some Oktoberfest merchandise and enjoy themed food, such as pork schnitzel and apple strudel. For more information, visit courthaussocial.com.
Village Brahaus in Alexandria is hosting an Oktoberfest celebration from September 15th to September 16th. Beer specials, as well as a performance by Johnny Koenig, the self proclaimed “face for the next generation of polka stars,” are just some of the activities held at the beer garden’s celebration. For more information, visit villagebrauhaus.com.
Glory Days Grill at Barcroft Plaza in Falls Church is offering food and drink specials during their Oktoberfest celebration. Customers can indulge in chicken schnitzel, roasted vegetables, a sausage that comes with onions and peppers, cheddar ale soup and a selection of beer. For more information, visit glorydaysgrill.com.
Shipgarten in Mclean is hosting an Oktoberfest kick-off event on Saturday, September 17th. A ceremonial “tapping of the keg” will take place, as well as stein-hoisting and sausage-eating competitions, apple-bobbing, live music and a kid’s corner. For more information, you can visit their website at shipgarten.com.