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5 Best Cities to Celebrate Oktoberfest Outside of Germany

Summer — particularly here in the United States — seems to have quietly fizzled out this year. It’s time to expect wall-to-wall leaf-peeping news coverage and pumpkin-flavored everything. But, even more importantly, it’s time for Oktoberfest. If Munich isn’t quite on your radar — maybe you hate crowds or lederhosen — there are plenty of alternative destinations to celebrate the iconic German event. Here are five of our favorites.

Cincinnati, Ohio

North America

Only a few spots remain for the annual Running of the Wieners race at Oktoberfest. Be sure to get your pup signed up soon! https://t.co/FeHlCI1uXm pic.twitter.com/6ieEYfTTs9

— Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (@OktoberfestZinz) September 4, 2018

We can’t lie: Cincinnati isn’t tops on our bucket list either (well, not until recently anyway). But the Ohio city has one very big thing going for it: It’s home to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the world’s second largest Oktoberfest and bested only by Munich. Thanks to the massive influx of German immigrants in the 19th century, it boasts one of the largest such populations in the United States. More than half a million people attend each year when the festival kicks off with the annual Running of the Wieners dachshund race.

Blumenau, Brazil

South America

Oktoberfest Blumenau Brazil
Oktoberfest Blumenau

It’s difficult to imagine Brazil as a hotspot of German-themed revelry, but the charming town of Blumenau (dubbed Brazil’s “Little Germany”), neatly situated between Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro, hosts the largest and best Oktoberfest-themed party in South America. It’s no surprise when you consider that the town was founded in the mid-1800s by German immigrants. To this day, more than 30 percent of residents are of German descent and some of the most prominent buildings in town feature a curious mix of Bavarian and colonial architecture found in few other places around the world. Every year,  more than 500,000 people take part in the Oktoberfest event.

Hong Kong

Asia

The Marco Polo German Bierfest
The Marco Polo German Bierfest/Facebook

A hotel parking lot in Asia hardly sounds like the ideal spot for a proper Oktoberfest event, but that’s precisely where you’ll find the continent’s largest and longest-running Bavarian party. The luxurious Marco Polo Hotel is situated on a surprisingly beautiful waterfront with sweeping views of the Hong Kong skyline. Here, thousands gather each year to ring in the festivities with vats of bier and themed events like keg tosses and stein-holding contests.

Brisbane

Australia

Oktoberfest Brisbane
Oktoberfest Brisbane

Of the surprising number of Oktoberfest events in Australia, Brisbane is home to the largest. For six days every year, the city’s visitors and locals trade in their giant cans of Fosters (kidding) for legit märzen, bratwurst, and oompah bands. The independent event has remained largely unchanged for the last decade. The two Australian-German families behind the scenes ensure that only around 40,000 tickets are sold each year to keep the event intentionally small.

Cape Town, South Africa

Africa

Image used with permission by copyright holder

While Cape Town is best known for world-class winemaking and out-of-this-world adventure opportunities, it’s also the site of Africa’s best Oktoberfest-style celebration. Bierfest is a three-city event that travels through three South African cities each year: Durban, Pretoria, and Cape Town. A 4,000-seat tent is pitched in each city, under which attendees can enjoy costume contests, traditional oompah bands, and, of course, lots and lots of German beer. Sure, like Australia, it isn’t technically a fall event due to the city’s location south of the equator, but we’ll take any excuse to drink cowboy-boot-sized steins of German beer in Africa.

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Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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