Willkommen Oktoberfest: Celebrations Across the Country

The original Oktoberfest, held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany is a multi-week festival running from late September through early October. The tradition began with the 1810 wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and accompanying festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the royal event. Subsequent annual celebrations commemorate the occasion with horse racing and other sports, music and shows.

The modern Oktoberfest experience centers primarily on German culture and its beer, and has spread to many countries, including the United States. Here, traditional German foods like sausages, dumplings, noodles, roasted meats and potato pancakes are served, along with healthy portions of oompah music and a variety of German beers, ales and other beverages.

Many Oktoberfest celebrations occur in close proximity to your favorite Bluegreen resorts. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular local events.

Cool Refreshing Dark Amber Beer

Alabama

Near Gulf Shores, Alabama, the annual Flora-Bama Oktoberfest takes place on October 8 at the local landmark’s three waterfront locations. “Brats, sauerkraut and a variety of German beer flow during this festival. German style musical acts perform while partygoers chicken dance. The party will go all day and night … (and) children are welcome during this family friendly event,” says the Flora-Bama site.

 

Arizona

There are several spots within driving distance of Bluegreen’s Cibola Vista Resort and Spa in suburban Peoria, Arizona (north of Phoenix), so be sure to have a designated driver if you intend to imbibe. The Oktoberfest for Parkinson’s Fundraiser on Saturday, October 8 features live music, brats, craft ales and raffle prizes. Admission is $20 per person, $30 after October 1 and $40 on the day of the event. People with Parkinson’s and their care partner are admitted for $20 per person. Admission includes a gourmet German bratwurst on a pretzel bun, side salads, dessert and a drink ticket for beer, wine or a nonalcoholic beverage.

Further north, in Sedona (about an hour and a half by car), Red Rocks Oktoberfest features food and beer vendors, polka music and a rock band. The $25 advance admission ($30 day of event) includes a beer stein and 1/2 liter beer. All money raised goes toward scholarships for Sedona High School Seniors and other local projects.

 

Homemade Soft Pretzels with Salt

California

Bluegreen’s Club at Big Bear Lake in California is near the Annual Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest, which occurs every weekend from September 10 through October 29. This year marks its 46th anniversary. A variety of vendors offer authentic food and drinks, and tickets can be purchased in advance.

 

Florida

Bluegreen’s Florida resorts are all near popular visitor destinations, so you know there’ll be ample Oktoberfest opportunities, but here are a few highlights: Near Orlando, Celebration Oktoberfest on the weekend of October 21 and 22 features live entertainment, with free admission and parking. The German American Society of Central Florida sponsors two events, on October 1 and 22 in Casselberry, with music and refreshments. Tickets can be purchased in advance.

Visitors to Gulfstream Manor Resort in Delray Beach are a short drive away from The American-German Club of the Palm Beaches’ annual Oktoberfest event, taking place on Friday, October 7th and 14th from 5:00 to 11:00 pm; Saturday, October 8th and 15th from noon to 11:00 pm; and Sunday, October 9 and 16 from noon to 8:00 pm.

Panama City visitors can experience their Oktoberfest on Saturday October 22. Tickets to the 46-year-old local tradition are available here.

Cape Coral, a hop, skip and jump from Ft. Myers, offers two weekends of celebration; October 21 through 23 and October 28 through 30. Its German American Club presents a varied and elaborate event, with ample food and beverage choices, plus carnivals, vendors, music, crafts and more. Ticket information is here.

For guests in or near the Tampa Bay area (St. Petersburg Beach, Bradenton, Holmes Beach) Oktoberfest Tampa on October 7th, 8th and 9th in Curtis Hixon Park is the place to be. You can purchase VIP tickets here and also view a survival guide (!) to the event.

Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Ormond Beach, near Daytona Beach, holds an annual Oktoberfest with rides, games, food and other festivities. All are welcome.

 

Homemade Bratwurst with Sauerkraut

Georgia

Savannah’s Oktoberfest boasts wiener dog racing, a bratwurst tasting, oompah dancing and more on Historic River Street on Friday, October 7 from 4-10 pm; Saturday, October 8 from 10 am-10 pm; and Sunday, October 9 from 10 am-5 pm. Admission is free.

 

Illinois

Chicago is home to a robust German community with a multitude of choices for Oktoberfest.

 

Brass Band

Louisiana

Party-town extraordinaire New Orleans celebrates Oktoberfest appropriately. Its annual celebration extends over three weekends, October 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22. Admission is $8 and kids under 12 get in free. In a city known for its amazing food, plentiful libations and playful demeanor, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

 

Missouri

Branson’s oldest Oktoberfest celebrates its 25th anniversary. The non-alcoholic event features music, dancing, games and German culinary favorites. Admission, which includes a meal, is $10 for adults; $5 for kids.

 

Horse

South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina’s Oktoberfest on Sunday Oct. 2 offers seasonal beer, German music and food, live music, jump castles, face painting, Oktoberfest games for adults and the Carolina Panthers NFL game on a 3,000 square-foot video board during the event. Tickets are $15 and kids 12 and under are admitted free. The first 500 people through the gates get a complimentary Oktoberfest mug.

Myrtle Beach’s Oktoberfest celebration takes place October 14-15, 4:00 to 9:00 pm Friday and 11:00 am until 7:00 pm on Saturday with a full array of fun, food, beverages and activities.

 

New Jersey

Atlantic City visitors can enjoy Oktoberfest celebrations in nearby Smithville, a historic village, with free admission on Oct 1st and 2nd from 10:00 am to 5:00pm.

 

Oktoberfest

Nevada

It’s a sure bet that Las Vegas visitors are in a party mood. Hofbräuhaus, a popular German restaurant, holds an authentic Oktoberfest celebration, with festive food and drinks. The local German-American Club also puts on a fete — two fetes, in fact — at the Historic Fifth Street School in downtown Las Vegas on October 1st from 3-9 pm, and in its clubhouse on Saturday, October 15th from 3-10 pm and Sunday, October 16th from 1-5 pm. Admission is free, with food and drinks available from vendors at both locations.

 

New York

New York City is known for having everything and that includes a cornucopia of Oktoberfest choices, too numerous to mention, with more on the horizon. Best bet is to check local listing online and in print.

 

Wherever you stay, your Bluegreen resort is a convenient locale for your own Oktoberfest celebration, whether or not the surrounding community is engaging in seasonal revelry. Grill some brats, roast a fresh ham, serve appropriate refreshments, play some German marching songs and you’re all set. Guten tag!

 

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