For 18 days, Munich, Germany, is home to one of the world’s biggest festivals: Oktoberfest.
While its name hints otherwise, the festival kicks off in September and runs through early October. More than 6 million people attend each year to delight in autumn’s arrival and, of course, drink beer.
If Germany is a little of out of reach, you can still break out the lederhosen for a number of celebrations across Arizona.
Sierra Vista Oktoberfest
SEPTEMBER 8 AND SEPTEMBER 9
Sierra Vista kicks off the Oktoberfest season with two days of family fun and fall celebration.
With the cooling temperatures and colors changing on the trees of the Huachuca Mountains, visitors will see the Sierra Vista autumn at its best.
More importantly, visitors can imbibe in a variety of beer options at the Sierra Vista Oktoberfest, which also features rich authentic German and ethnic cuisines, and entertainment.
Veterans Memorial Park, 3105 E. Fry Boulevard, Sierra Vista, sierravistaaz.gov, 5 to 11 p.m., free admission.
SEPTEMBER 16 AND SEPTEMBER 17
The festivities in Heber-Overgaard coincide with the original festival in Germany. Located in the gorgeous Tall Timbers Park, Oktoberfest up here has attracted more than 15,000 each year since it was founded 25 years ago.
Festivalgoers will be able to relax and celebrate with musical performances, and more than 60 arts and craft vendors. No festival is complete without a variety of dining options and the celebration promises to deliver with fry bread, barbecue, hot dogs, bratwursts and dessert options.
Heber-Overgaard Tall Timbers County Park, 2774 Highway 260, Overgaard, heberovergaard.org, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, free admission.
Litchfield Park Oktoberfest
Litchfield Park traditionally hosts its Oktoberfest on the opening day of the official celebration in Germany.
“It’s a nice tie-in to the German celebration, of course, and a great way to kick off the season in Arizona,” says Tricia Kramer, Litchfield Park’s special events coordinator.
The 30-year event draws close to 900 attendees to the front lawn of The Wigwam resort each year. As for the food, it doesn’t get much more authentic than the menu, which features more than your average bratwurst. Offerings include jagerschnitzel (breaded pork cutlet) and reiberdatschi (potato pancakes served with roasted apple sauce).
And the celebration has the brews. Paulaner lager, weizen and Oktoberfest will be available, as well as domestic beer and wine, ranging from $5 to $6.
Entertainment will include dancing and music by the Phoenix Polka Band as well as a kids’ zone with arts and crafts and pumpkin chucking. All ages can participate in the day’s yodeling and best German outfit contests.
The Wigwam, 300 E. Wigwam Boulevard, Litchfield Park, litchfield-park.org, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., $10, free for kids 12 and younger.
Westside Lilo’s Café Oktoberfest
Westside Lilo’s Cafe, the go-to for German food along Route 66, gets in on the festivities with a daylong celebration on September 23.
The day starts at 4 p.m. with a performance by the California Krauts, while country rockers, The Ridge Runners, finish off the night.
Westside Lilo’s Café, which opened in 1996, is a family business famous for its soups, sandwiches, schnitzel and cinnamon rolls. So, on this day, expect the best in brats, leberkase and pretzels, as well as special Oktoberfest bier from Hofbrau Munchen.
Westside Lilo’s Cafe, 415 Chino Street, Seligman, westsidelilos.com, Saturday, September 23, 4 p.m.
SanTan Brewing Oktoberfest
The SanTan Brewing Oktoberfest takes over Dr. AJ Chandler Park on September 30. The event began as a one-year anniversary celebration for the Chandler brewery.
“It’s such a fun beer celebration,” says Jen Pruett, the festival’s media relations coordinator. “It just kind of fit the theme of a birthday party or anniversary party for a brewery.”
The festival features all SanTan Brewery craft beer, including its popular MoonJuice, Hefeweizen and Oktoberfest lager, which is already on sale for those looking for an early sip.
Twenty food vendors, ranging from authentic Bavarian options and barbecue to German classics with an Arizona twist, will be sold. Adventurous eaters can opt for the Reuben-style burger topped with corn beef or pork schnitzel burger from the Tot’s N’ Tot’s of Burgers food truck.
The all-ages event will feature a kids’ zone with face painting and bounce houses. The adults aren’t left out here, as they can enjoy stein-holding, brat-eating, keg-stacking, tricycle racing and beer-pong competitions.
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Good Rust and Reel Big Fish provide the soundtrack.
Dr. AJ Chandler Park, 178 E. Commonwealth Avenue, Chandler, santanoktoberfest.com, 3 to 11 p.m., $12-$100, free for kids 12 and younger.
Four Peaks Oktoberfest
OCTOBER 13 TO OCTOBER 15
The 45th Four Peaks Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake takes on a different spin than its competitors, according to organizers.
“We’re very unique,” says Bobbi Jones, an event co-chairwoman. “It’s not just a beer festival. It’s a family festival.”
Admission is free this year, with VIP and food and drink packages available for purchase. The festival also features rides and an amusement park, with all-day passes starting at $30. It raises funds for Tempe Sister Cities, which sends Tempe high school students to cities worldwide.
As for the food, festivalgoers can expect the German classics they know and love—brats, hot dogs and sauerkraut—as well as the best bakery goods and “apple strudel to die for,” according to Jones.
Four Peaks’ classics like Peach Ale, Hop Knot, Kilt Life and Oktoberfest will be served, as well as Munich’s Spaten.
Each day features different entertainment, including the Spaten 4v4 soccer invitational, the Frank Kush 5K, 10K and 1M run, wiener dog races and Superheroes Sunday, where you can trade in your dirndl for spandex and a cape.
The Wes Williams Band, Fayuca and Mogollon will headline the festival throughout the weekend.
Tempe Town Lake, 80 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, fourpeaksoktoberfest.com, Friday, October 13 to Sunday, October 15, times TBA, free, with VIP packages available for purchase.
Oktoberfest for Parkinson’s
Celebrate for a good cause at the 13th annual Oktoberfest for Parkinson’s on High Street.
The event is hosted by The Baehr Challenge, which encourages exercise as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease and helps fund scientific research.
The block party-style celebration will feature brats, music, authentic Oktoberfest games and basket prizes for raffle. As for the drinks, craft ales and fine wines will be served.
Each ticket includes a Bavarian dinner, featuring a brat on a pretzel bun, side salad and dessert, as well as a soft drink, beer or wine for $20 presale and $40 at the door. Splurge on the VIP pass for $75 and treat yourself to unlimited food, beer, wine and casino play.
The event is all ages. Proceeds go toward supporting local Parkinson’s organizations and research towards a cure.
High Street, 5310 E. High Street, Phoenix, baehrchallenge.com/oktoberfest, 5 to 9 p.m., $20-$75.
The Goodyear Oktoberfest strives to be authentic in every detail, from the food to the music.
Beer selections include the original Oktoberfest beer as well as the wheat beer Hefeweissbier, which is imported from the oldest brewery in the world in Weihenstephan, Germany.
“We love to party, to celebrate and to share our German beer traditions,” says host Tobi Ahmling.
“That’s why we try to make the Oktoberfest as authentic as possible.”
The festival will serve only German food, including carved roast pork, roast chicken quarters, apple strudel, sauerkraut and bratwurst.
For the third year, the German group Handgschabt will perform a wide-ranging set of Oktoberfest and rock classics.
“You will meet so many people who just like to celebrate, dance and sing German songs after one or two beers, eat good food and have a great time,” Ahmling says.
The event is 21 years and older and admission is $65, which includes Bavarian food, water, 2 liters of beer and a keeper mug and T-shirt. Each additional liter is $1 and it is money well spent as all proceeds from the event benefit the New Life Center, which helps victims of domestic violence.
Phoenix Goodyear Airport, 1658 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, oktoberfestgoodyear.com, 5 p.m. to midnight, $65 ages 21 and older.