The Best Cities to Celebrate Oktoberfest

The festival tradition has been around since 1810 and brings together music, beer tents and traditional Bavarian food. Can you believe that more than 1 million gallons of beer are consumed annually at Oktoberfest?

You can celebrate without crossing the pond, though. Every fall, a few U.S. cities celebrate Oktoberfest with parades, lederhosen and plenty of beer. Here are the best cities for celebrating Oktoberfest.

12. Mount Angel, OR

mount angel oregon

Source: Mount Angel Oktoberfest

The Bavarian-inspired town of Mount Angel is the perfect background to spend your next Oktoberfest adventure. The whimsical town is less than an hour from Portland and was originally settled by German Catholic families and Benedictine monks and sisters.

For their annual Oktoberfest celebration, the town goes big on sausage and sauerkraut as it begins to welcome more than 300,000 visitors. Stroll through the traditional German clothing stores, the beautiful St. Mary Catholic Church and the Glockenspiel clock tower before heading to the Alpinegarten.

11. Denver, CO

denver co

The six-day Oktoberfest festival in Denver attracts more than 250,000 people annually. Beyond live music, this 50-year-old Oktoberfest stands out as it offers keg bowling, a costume contest and the very competitive Stein Hoisting.

The late-night silent disco is not traditional, but you’ll also find the chicken-dance and punk polka bands on stage. The beer hall boasts an all-you-can-eat Bavarian brunch including potato salad, currywurst and, of course, classic brats.

10. La Crosse, WI

la crosse wisconsin

The city of La Crosse organized its first Oktoberfest in 1961 to bring the community together and since then, it’s become an annual tradition. It was originally a winter carnival but now it’s held in the fall season.

La Crosse, one of the largest cities in Wisconsin, now hosts Oktoberfest in two locations — connected by a shuttle — with a Biergarten, food vendors, two music venues and a whole lot of dancing.

9. New Ulm, MN

new ulm minnesota

Source: Facebook/NewUlm

When the Oktoberfest host city’s tagline is “Come see what’s brewing,” you know you’re going to have a good time. New Ulm has deep German roots and had a role in World War II as local newspapers printed news from relatives in Germany.

For two weekends in October, the city celebrates that rich heritage through Oktoberfest at local spots like the historic August Schell Brewing Company, Morgan Creek Vineyards and Best Western Plus. The celebrations kick off with a day parade before visitors head to Downtown Oktoberfest for music, food and local beer and wine.

8. Leavenworth, WA

leavenworth wa

A Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth showcases several Alpine-inspired buildings, restaurants, German beer and a true Oktoberfest excitement.

Every year the festival kicks off with the Keg Tapping ceremony to honor Bavarian tradition after residents walk the parade in their traditional lederhosen and dirndl through Front Street. The festivities are then followed by musical groups and food across four locations, including the Festhalle.

7. Frankenmuth, MI

frankenmuth michigan

Bordered by the Cass River, Frankenmuth has some serious German roots that can be seen in the town’s architecture, its historical museum and passion during Oktoberfest.

Located at Heritage Park, Frankenmuth Oktoberfest celebrates 30 years of dance, good food and the city’s unique heritage as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria.” Nearby, you can explore more with the Bavarian Belle Riverboat tour and a tour of the Frankenmuth brewery.

6. St. Paul, MN

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Minnesota’s self-proclaimed most authentic Oktoberfest, St. Paul hosts quite the celebration with the help of the Germanic-American Institute. The two-day celebration is hosted at the historic Schmidt Brewery — founded by German immigrant Jacob Schmidt in the early 1900s.

Eideweiss dancers, Steinheben strongman competitions and Rivers Ballet performances entertain visitors as they munch on the Bavarian buffet, with a roasted whole hog stuffed with sausage and sauerkraut.

5. Madison, WI

madison wisconsin

Restaurant Essen Haus, host of the Madison Oktoberfest, has a long history in the city. Madison became one of the first German neighborhoods in Wisconsin, thanks to the nearby train station.

The area was later revitalized by a local entrepreneur and one of the buildings became Essen Haus — now known for its German food offerings and live local polka bands. The outdoor stage has live music while nearby, visitors can choose from 16 German taps and watch the brat eating contest.

4. Tulsa, OK

tulsa ok

One of the five largest Oktoberfests in the U.S., Tulsa has been celebrating Bavarian culture for more than 40 years. Located on the Arkansas river, the city is surrounded by nature and many parks. The newly renovated River West Festival Park is the host of the annual Oktoberfest.

The four-day Linde Oktoberfest Tulsa festival takes more than 40,000 square feet of the park with tents, stages and large quantities of bratwurst and German beers. Don’t miss the arts and crafts vendors, games and the Das KinderPlatz, a family-friendly carnival area.

3. Fredericksburg, TX

fredericksburg tx

Get ready to get down to the chicken dance in downtown Fredericksburg. The central Texas town has a rich German history — the first generations of settlers spoke a Texan German dialect and the town was named after Prince Frederick of Prussia.

With less than 10,000 residents, the town comes alive during Oktoberfest. The sounds of OkTubaFest — a gathering of tuba players — play as food vendors offer German treats and a wide selection of domestic, import and craft beers.

2. Cincinnati, OH

cincinnati ohio

Hear the clink of the boot-shaped beer glasses in Cincinnati this September at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. The festival highlights the rich German heritage in the state of Ohio for one short weekend, but it’s one of the biggest ones.

Sauerkraut balls, bratwurst, sausages, pickled pigs feet and potato pancakes are on the menu during the 3-day festival. To kick off the weekend, spy the 100 dachshunds in hot dog costumes race toward their owners. Even though Sam Adams is one of the sponsors, German beers are still widely available.

1. Helen, GA

Helen GA

A little more than an hour north of Atlanta, Helen is a small town with a big Bavarian personality. Nestled in the North Georgia mountains, the town is a replica of Germany’s picturesque villages. More than 200 specialty and kitschy shops and restaurants line the streets.

Helen was previously a logging town struggling to attract tourism and now it receives more than 2 million visitors a year, mostly during Oktoberfest.

The 49th annual festival boasts large floats, German cuisine, polka players and boot-shaped beers at the Festhalle tent.

Celebrate Oktoberfest

There’s no wrong choice when it comes to celebrating Oktoberfest. It may not be Munich, Germany, but you’re a short ride away from one of these equally fun celebrations.

From Washington all the way to Georgia, grab your lederhosen, stop by for a bratwurst and drink up.

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Muriel VegaMuriel Vega is an Atlanta-based journalist and editor who writes mostly about technology and its intersection with food and culture. She’s the managing editor of tech news publication Hypepotamus, and has contributed to The Guardian, Atlanta magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE and more. She spends her time eating her way through Buford Highway and exploring Atlanta's arts scene.

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