Way back in 1810, Germans celebrated the marriage of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen with a festival and horse races. In the following years, small beer stands and a carousel were added to the jubilee. Fast forward 200 years and Oktoberfest is still going strong. While most of us are unable to afford a ticket to Munich, Washington has its own slew of Oktoberfest events—alas, with fewer horse races. Here are a few that have us polishing our novelty steins in anticipation...
Sept 21–Oct 1
This Capitol Hill beer hall channels Oktoberfest vibes yearlong with bratwurst, schnitzels, and a lengthy menu of German-sourced beers, but September means even more Bavarian eats and music. The biergarten will host a pig roast on September 21, with live music on September 23 and 30. Then Rhein Haus will do a traditional firkin keg tapping on September 29, put on an eating contest on September 30 (winner gets a swag bag, trophy, and a donation to a charity of their choice), and will entertain kiddos with a puppet show on October 1.
Get your lederhosen to the dry cleaners stat because Fremont’s Oktoberfest is just around the corner. The fest stretches the entire weekend, kicking off with a Led Zeppelin tribute band followed by a stein hoisting competition. Ziegler’s bratwurst and curly fries will be aplenty, as will pretzels, and—of course—there will be more than 80 craft beers. Other activities include a Miss Buxom beauty contest on Friday at 8pm, chainsaw pumpkin carving on Sunday at 2pm, and a slate of kid's events. Friday and Saturday are strictly 21-plus, but kids are welcome on Sunday (and free with a paying adult). Tickets range from $20–$50.
Human foosball and Hungry Hungry Hippos? Check. Stein racing and keg rolling? Check. Cornhole and beer pong? Kirkland’s Oktoberfest has those too. There will be a beer garden with German classics (Paulaner, anyone?) as well as local favorites like Maelstrom and Chainline. And it wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without some Bavarian meats, served up at Sausagehaus. On Sunday, Kirkland will host a set of wiener dog races, and kids are welcome to watch (and add to) the adorableness. The rest of the weekend, however, the biergarten is strictly 21 and over. One-day tickets start at $25 and a three-day pass is $60.
Sept 22–Oct 21
Queen Anne Beerhall
Queen Anne doesn’t mess around—the beerhall is prepped for a lengthy Oktoberfest, which includes two kegs of Paulaner Munchen Wiesn Bier, an impressive feat given that there’s only six kegs of the good stuff in the entire state. A confit hog head platter will also be available every Friday and Saturday. If a pig's noggin isn’t really your cup of tea, you can also grab roast pork on October 14 and 15, or munch on wood-roasted lamb on September 30 and October 21. Also on the agenda: a performance by the Speakeasy Jazz Cats on September 22, beer yoga on September 23, and Kidtoberfest on September 24. Prost!
After you’ve recovered from your first beer-centric weekend, get ready for round two at Dystopian State Brewing Company on September 30. Wingman, Odd Otter, Harmon, 7 Seas, and Tacoma Brewing Company are all invited to the festivities, and will bring their best Oktoberfest-themed beers. Free 0.5 liter steins will be given out to the first 10 guests to arrive, and will also be for sale for latecomers. The beer starts flowing at 2pm, and if you’re hell-bent on getting that stein, you can pre-purchase it along with two fills for just $15.
Sure, the Washington State Fair closes its gates September 24, but come October 6 the fairgrounds will open for Oktoberfest Northwest, the event that invented Hammerschlagen. Hammer-what? Apparently it’s a game in which you attempt to drive a nail into a cross section of wood faster than your opponents. Other not-to-be-missed events: performances by Queen of Oktoberfest, Manuela Horn, a stein dash 5K (with beer pit stops), and a root beer run. The “festhalle” will pour six German and Austrian beers and an unfiltered cider from Seattle Cider Company. Tickets range from $6–$60; kids are free, but only welcome until 6pm on Friday and Saturday.
Hillman City Oktoberfest
If you’re late to the bier-themed celebrations, no need to fear, because Big Chickie and Slow Boat Tavern are actually throwing their Oktoberfest in October. And they’re making the most of the one-day event, with festivities running from 11am to 10pm. Big Chickie will host the fest with a feast fit for King Ludwig I himself: brats, German potato salad, kraut, pretzels, and spaetzle. Of course, day drinking doesn’t count as an Oktoberfest unless you’ve got German beer, which is why Slow Boat’s bringing Bitburger Köstritzer, Helles Lager, and more. Pre-purchased $20 tickets come with a limited edition stein and two drinks; tickets can also be purchased at the event for the same price, though they come with just one drink.
This article was updated on September 26 to include Hillman City Oktoberfest.