If you love craft beer and you love fall, planning to host or attend an Oktoberfest event should be tops on your list. This 200+-year-old event is steeped in German traditions, from music to food to ambiance to, you guessed it, delicious Oktoberfest beer. So why not plan an Oktoberfest themed event of your own? We’ve got the Oktoberfest event ideas and tips you need to make your event authentic, spirited and the talk of the town. Prost!
Want to learn about some of our favorite Oktoberfest beers?
Join our annual Oktoberfest SipScout party on September 21, 2023! We’ll taste the beers we sent out to SipScout members together (if you missed the 8/31 cutoff date, join now so you don’t miss another kit!) with a professional cicerone while getting into Oktoberfest style festivities!
Tip No. 1: Start planning now, Oktoberfest starts in September!
What? Why is Oktoberfest in September?
The original Oktoberfest festival took place in Bavaria on October 12, 1810 (to celebrate the marriage of the Crown Prince of Bavaria (later, King Louis I) to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen). But, they eventually rescheduled the event back to September to take advantage of nicer weather. When is Oktoberfest 2022? Oktoberfest begins on Saturday, September 17, and ends on Monday, October 3, 2022.
Tip No. 2: Brush up on your Oktoberfest history (trivia contest, anyone?)
A quick Google search will bring you loads of Oktoberfest history, but since we’re history nuts, we’ll gladly get you started. The official Oktoberfest festival is held annually in Munich, Germany. It has only been canceled 25 times over the last 200 years! Usually due to war, inflation, and disease (yep, coronavirus took it down in 2020 and 2021). It is the largest folk festival in the world, with over 7 million people attending in the event’s busiest years. (Take that Super Bowl!)
Beer was first introduced to the event in 1818 when food and beverage tents were first allowed at the fest. Today, only beer produced in Munich, Germany can be served at Oktoberfest. Just six Munich-based breweries are allowed to name their beers Oktoberfestbier, including Spaten Brauerei, Hacker-Pschorr, Paulaner, Hofbräu, Augustiner, and Löwenbräu. (We’ll talk more about beer in Tip No.3.)
If you attend Oktoberfest, you’ll find these local brewers sponsor massive beer tents all over the grounds. If you want to drink, you need to reserve a spot in one of these delightful tents in advance (tickets cost $169 euros at one site we visited). Your ticket gets you a place to sit, two liters of beer, a half roast chicken (chicken is a thing at Oktoberfest), and we’re pretty sure a really, really good time.
Tip No. 3: Stock up on Oktoberfest style craft beers (and beer steins).
At The Crafty Cask, we’re all about craft beers. Since getting access to real, German craft beers is tricky, we favor Oktoberfest-style craft beers made in the U.S.A. If you’re hosting an Oktoberfest-themed event, you’ll want to ask your local craft breweries about the following styles of beer, which we feature at our Oktoberfest virtual tasting events:
- Festbier, a pale lager with subdued, toasted malt notes.
- Märzen, a step up in ABV and flavor from Festbier, this malty, amber lager has a rich, toasty, and bready malt flavor with slightly bitter notes.
- Hefeweizen, an unfiltered ale comprised of >50% wheat, which may have banana, clove, vanilla, and even bubblegum notes.
- Helles, a bright lager beer known for its pleasant malty sweetness, floral Noble hops, and slight bitterness.
While you’re at it, make sure your guests are drinking in true Oktoberfest style, with glassware to match. Search German beer steins online, and you’ll find bougie, authentic German steins along with more affordable options. If you want to go “extra,” may we recommend snagging a few Das Boots?
Tip No. 4: Don’t forget, Oktoberfest event ideas MUST include German food to nosh.
Tip No. 5: Transport guests to Germany with an Oktoberfest-inspired ambiance.
Oktoberfest décor is essential to really make your event memorable! So, create your very own beer garden with rustic wood accents, picnic tables, blue & white checkered flags, along with linens, antique tapestries, and German flags and crests. String up clear decorative lights above your gathering area (this looks especially cool outside!). If flowers are your thing, seek out blue cornflowers, the national flower of Germany.
Appropriate music and costumes are also a must. Play German polka and folk music to set the mood (extra points if you hire an accordion or tuba player), and for costumes, dirndl skirts and braided hair for the ladies and lederhosen and feathered, German chapeaus for the men.