Get your lederhosen (and your liver) ready—it’s Oktoberfest time! In case you weren’t lucky enough to have a friend in college who made you watch Beerfest 11 times, Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival held annually in Munich that celebrates German beer and food. So whether you’re looking for an excuse to indulge in a little al fresco day drinking or want to enjoy some fall family fun, here are the best spots around town to munch on a schnitzel and down a stein or two.
Snap up four-ounce beer samples from more than 50 breweries at Capital City Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest. Local vendors will dish up authentic German food and tunes. Tickets are $25 (includes a tasting glass and ten tickets) if you plan to sample the beers, but free if you just want to attend. Head to the Village of Shirlington on October 6 from noon to 7.
Join other Oktoberfest enthusiasts in the beer garden at the Old Stein Inn for a wurst platter or spaetzle spread. On Friday and Saturday you can sing along to your favorite German drinking songs with Sylvia on the accordion or Heidi und Heimat Echo with their alpenhorn. Mike and the Continentals will provide the background entertainment on Sunday for those enjoying the suckling pig roast. The party goes from 6 to 10 PM on Friday, 5 to 10 PM on Saturday, and 2 to 6 PM on Sunday through October 28.
Steer clear of the cupcake-eating contest at Columbia Heights Day and head straight for the Meridian Pint Oktoberfest at 11th and Park. Adults can chill in the beer garden with music, 24 seasonal brews, and sausages while clans with tots can have fun with a moon bounce and a dunk tank, raising money for the Harriet Tubman Elementary School. The festival is October 6 from 10 to 6 PM.
Lovettsville goes all out to celebrate its German heritage this weekend for its 19th annual festival. Chow down at the pancake breakfast, take in a clogging performance, or partake in the inaugural homebrew competition. Enter your creation into one of seven categories, which will be judged on style, aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel, and overall impression. Or tap into your regal side and don your best dirndl as you compete to be crowned Lovettsville royalty. Make sure you brush up on your Oktoberfest trivia for the oral exam performance. Find more information online.
If wife-carrying is your specialty, or if you are particularly proud of your beer belly, the Brewers’ Association of Maryland’s Oktoberfest is for you. Stop by the Timonium Fairgrounds on October 13 from noon to 6 for games, beer tastings, German drinking songs, and live shows. Show off your talents in the Miss Oktoberfest competition, the heavy seas pretzel necklace competition, or the aforementioned best beer belly contest and wife-carrying race to win cash and bragging rights. And if your beermaking skills are wunderbar, be sure to enter your suds in the homebrew competition. Tickets are $39 for VIP admission, $25 for regular admission, and $15 for designated drivers.
Gather the family for some old-fashioned fun at Hard Bargain Farm in Maryland. There’s something for everyone at the 32nd annual festival, including Bavarian dancing performances, audience-participating waltzes and bratwurst, sauerkraut, and apple strudel galore. On October 6, the gates are open from 1 to 6 PM; admission is $10, or free for children seven and under.
Bust out your best polka moves at DC’s Old Europe every Saturday through October 6 from 7 to 10 PM. Enjoy a stein ($5), half liter ($7) or liter ($13) of the world-renowned “Spaten bier” just as it is served in Munich. Traditional treats such as Bavarian pretzels and meatballs will also be available.
Unleash your inner German in Haymarket, Virginia, on October 20 from 11 to 5 PM. The folks from Foster’s Grille will be on hand to serve up brats, sauerkraut and potato salad as participants line the street in their best German getups for the costume contest. The winner can take five friends out to dinner at a local restaurant.
Say yes to house-made sausages, potato salad, sauerkraut, oysters, and specialty beers at Virtue Feed & Grain’s first Oktoberfest on October 6. Test your strength in a Sam Adams stein hoist for a chance to win a trip to next year’s Oktoberfest in Munich.
H Street’s Biergarten Haus is a haven for all things German year-round, but it really shines this time of year with 13 additional brews on tap and live music. And if you want to drink for a cause, check out Barktoberfest on October 17, where 100 percent of the proceeds from your $25 ticket go toward City Dogs Rescue. Enjoy bottomless half liters of draft beer from 7 to 9 PM. Costumes encouraged.