This page is continuously updating as we find new things.  Check back often from August - October.

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Oktoberfest...then and now

Oktoberfest is the most recognized of Germany's festivals and lauded as the World's Largest Folk Fest...6.8M attendees in 2019   Originally, it was the "city fair" for Munich, capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, which was not part of Germany, nor even considered itself Germanic...it was Bavaria...Land der Bayern. 

 

Today, Bavaria is Germany's largest state and much akin to Texas in the United States, Bavaria holds to its own uniquely Bavarian culture, language, and lifestyle.

On October 12, 1810, Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria (grandfather of the castle-building Ludwig II) married Princess Theresa in their own version of a "Charles and Diana" Wedding. "Everyone" was invited and the once local Munich "fair" was taken over for the Royal Event. 

 

Maximillian I, King of Bavaria, and father to Ludwig I, issued royal charters to 6 of the local breweries to produce beer for the wedding party.  Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Loewenbräu, Paulaner, Spaten, Hofbräu-München remain today the only breweries sanctioned to produce the official Oktoberfestbier.   

 

The festival area outside the city gates was renamed the Theresienwiese in honor of Princess Theresa, but locals now just call it d'Wies'n.

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Our  NorCal   Oktoberfest  List  2022

Oktoberfest celebrations come in many sizes, types, and levels of authenticity.  We've been to most and are adding to our list each year. Here are our top picks in NorCal.  Always check the Oktoberfest's website first or call ahead, since things often change.

Our rating system is 1-5 with 5 being the highest.  We focus on 5 Primary Fest Factors:   

Band/Music - Beer/Food - Traditionality - Gemütlichkeit.

Why this order?

The band/music can make or break any Fest since their job is to give the Fest its spirit and tempo.  A lackluster band makes for a lackluster Fest.  Just like we know all the NorCal Oktoberfests, we also know the bands. Check out our NorCal Fest Band page

 

Food/Beer at a Fest is more than just brats and bubbles...it needs to pair well together and match the venue and theme.   And hopefully it is Bavarian or at the very least, Bavarian-inspired?  Running out of beer and food at a Fest is just not a good idea.

Traditions and therefore, Traditionality abound at any Fest: the beer & food, bands & music, the venue, people sharing tables, wearing Tracht (Lederhosen & Dirndl), and everyone showing a sense of Good Nature.  In Bavaria, Fests can take on a life of their own.  Therefore, we tend to "grade" high the more traditional the Oktoberfest is that we are attending.

Gemütlichkeit is a uniquely Bavarian sense of welcomeness, coziness, community, being together...not just a bunch of people in the same space.   It is on par with Traditionality in making a Fest a real Fest.

If we are missing an Oktoberfest from the list below, let us know.  We hate when that happens. 

Fill out our Oktoberfest Event Form and we will add it to our list.