The Oktoberfest season in Chicago seems to get a little longer each year. In Munich, where Oktoberfest was born over 200 years ago in 1810, the traditional Oktoberfest celebration lasts 16 days (September 20 through October 5).
In Chicago, where we do things our way--sometimes called "The Chicago Way"--Oktoberfest starts the beginning of September and continues through Halloween--making it almost 4 times longer than Munich.
And the wurst part of Chicago's many Oktoberfests may just be the best, especially if you are a fan of bratwurst.
In Germany there are over 50 kinds of brats from various regions including many that have found their way to Chicago. When you're checking out vendors at the various fests, remember there's more to bratwurst than Johnsonville. Look for Coburger, Fränkische, Hessische, Nürnberger, Schlesische or Thüringer--to name a few.
For traditional Oktoberfest beers check out Stoudts Oktoberfest Beer, Beck’s Ocfest Beer (Germany), Paulaner Oktoberfest Beer (Germany), Pete’s Wicked Oktoberfest Beer, Samuel Adams Oktoberfest Beer (MA), Ayinger OktoberFest Märzen Beer (Germany), Stoudts Oktoberfest Beer (PA), Dogtoberfest or hit a high note with Avery Brewing Company's 10.20 Kaiser brew--and experience something a little different.
Or just grab a Schlitz and a Johnsonville and be on your way.
In addition to the brats, there are many other German wursts--would you believe over 500 different kinds of “raw” wursts…and over 350 types of cooked wursts...according to the German Food Guide.
If you can find it, try some currywurst. Currywurst is the pride and joy of Germany--not unlike the hot dog is to Chicago. Currywurst, often considered Germany's national dish (and perhaps its weirdest), consists of fried sausage covered in curried ketchup or tomato sauce with a side of french fries.
In addition to the food and brews, Chicago's fest-goers will be treated to many traditional German activities including: dancing the polka; beer stein races for the ladies, beer barrel races for the guys, the chicken dance (there's a big one at Crawltoberfest) and alphenhorn performances featuring a very large horn.
OR try your hand at...a stein-holding competition called “Masskrugstemmen.” This Bavarian sport is said to require strength, stamina and pure determination. The goal is to hold the filled stein parallel to the floor using one arm only. The person who holds it out the longest is the winner. You can enter this competition during Hofbräuhaus Chicago's Oktoberfest.
Here's what's on tap for Oktoberfest 2014 in and around Chi-town...
1. Tapping of the Keg, Berghoff Restaurant (17 W. Adams), September 4
The traditional tapping of the keg party at Chicago's Berghoff Restaurant (17 W. Adams) kicks off the string of Chicago area celebrations from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 4.
2. The German American Festival (German Day Festival), 4000 N. Lincoln, September 5, 6 and 7
The German American Fest has it all. German music, culture, beer, and food at Lincoln Square. The celebration kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday and continues through Sunday. The Von Steuben Parade steps off at 2 p.m. Saturday from 4000 N Lincoln Avenue and continues North on Western Avenue to the Festival area. Free.
3. Itasca Oktoberfest, downtown Itasca, September 5 and 6
Das Bier will be flowing at Itasca's authentic Oktoberfest celebration kicking off with the "Tapping of the first keg' with the mayor at 5 p.m. Friday, September 5 (through 11 p.m.). The party keeps brewing with traditional German fare including roast pig with red cabbage, spaetzle and more plus a kids menu with hotdogs and burgers. There's more of the same on Saturday, September 6 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Downtown Itasca along Orchard Street.
4. Villa Park Oktoberfest, Lions Park, September 5, 6, 7
Villa Park's Oktoberfest celebrates year 35 of fall family fun on September 5, 6 and 7. Festivities include games, German food, music, a yodeling contest and a Bavarian pie eating contest. Lions Park 320 East Wildwood 630 834 8970.
5. Berghoff Oktoberfest on Federal Plaza, September 10, 11 and 12
Beer, brats, Wiener Schnitzel and oompah bands ring in the 29th Annual Berghoff Oktoberfest on Federal Plaza on September 10, 11 and 12 (Wednesday through Friday). Chicago’s largest, longest-running Oktoberfest celebration offers free daily admission from 11 a.m. through 9 p.m. The opening ceremony on Wednesday, September 10, begins at 11 a.m. and includes a traditional toast to kick things off.
6. Festiv-Ale: A Celebration of Beer, Carmichael’s (1052 W. Monroe), September 12
Although not exactly an Oktoberfest celebration, Carmichael’s Festiv-Ale, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation features handcrafted, high-end beers from Midwest brewers, live music, a silent auction, bucket raffle plus a Tower of Beer raffle (three chances to win over 30 cases of beer). $65 for regular entry and $100 for the VIP reception.
7. Hofbräuhaus Chicago Oktoberfest, 5500 Park Place, Rosemont, September 12 through October 31.
Forty-nine days of Oktoberfest fun at Hofbräuhaus Chicago, the first and only German micro-brewery, beer hall and restaurant in the Chicago area, celebrates its second annual Oktoberfest September 12 through October 31 in MB Financial Park at Rosemont. Festivities include authentic Bavarian entertainment, freshly brewed “Oktoberfestbier” inspired by the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany, daily food specials, celebrity keg tapping ceremonies (every Friday during Oktoberfest), Dirndl-wearing waitresses, nightly live entertainment, contests and more.
8. Oak Park Oaktoberfest, Marion and North Boulevard, September 19, 20
Tap into the good times in downtown Oak Park at their annual "Oak" as in "Oak" Park Oaktoberfest on September 19 and 20. The fest offers a premier music line up, fall foods from local restaurants, specialty craft beers, and a Root Beer Garden. Marion Street and North Boulevard, South of Lake Street. Oak Park. 708-383-4145.
9. Berwyn's Oktoberfest, Depot District Area on Windsor Ave., September 19, 20
Berwyn celebrates 14 years of oompa music and more. The two-day party features German food, live performances, amusement rides, kids' activities, crafters, vendors and a beer garden in the Depot District on both sides of the Metra tracks between Oak Park and Home Avenues.
10. Palatine Oktoberfest, 50 N. Brockway St, Palatine, September 19, 20 and 21
This Rotary Club event kicks off Friday with a short parade and keg tapping ceremony at 5:00 p.m. Saturday is Family Day with kids programming, scarecrows and more. The weekend also features live music, German food and brews. Free admission.
11. Oakbrook Oktoberfest 2014, Central Park, September 20 and 21
Look for Oakbrook's 4th annual Oak Brook Park District Oktoberfest to light up the fire with German food and barbeque on Saturday, September 20 and 21. In addition, they'll be plenty of beer and good cheer, live music and family activities. Oak Brook Park District, Central Park, 1450 Forest Gate Road. 630 645 9521.
12. Oktoberfest Under the Tent at Glenview Haus, September 20
The 3rd annual Oktoberfest at Glenview Haus offers authentic grub, grog and live music from the Die Musikmeisters in the Oktoberfest tent. This year, guests are invited to dress in their most traditional garb for a chance to win prizes. Kids activities include a jump house and face painting.
13. HOPS! Oktoberfest, 3202 S. May St., September 20
Gotta be 21 or older for HOPS!, The pride of the South Side, the Bridgeport VFW post, knows how throw a party—expect an awesome line-up of traditional German foods and brews at the 17th annual brewhaha. Must buy tickets in advance, click here.
14. "Beer, Brats and Boats" Cruise from Navy Pier, September 26
Paulina Market's third annual Oktoberfest "Beer, Brats and Boats" Cruise leaves the dock for a two-hour cruise at 7 p.m. on September 26th. The evening features a classic German dinner from Paulina Market along with a souvenir Oktoberfest stein. The cruise features a classic Oktoberfest atmosphere with Fraulein bartenders and the Euro-Express band with music for listening, singing and dancing. A cash bar will be available. The Oktoberfest Beer Brats and Boats Cruise departs from Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier at 7 p.m. Tickets $49
15. Oktoberfest Chicago, St. Alphonsus Church, September 26, 27 and 28
One of the most popular Chicago Oktoberfests is Oktoberfest Chicago hosted by St. Alphonsus Church. In addition to beer, brats, pretzels, and pop--the fair has a great line-up of German acts on two music stages. Sunday afternoon is "Kinderfest" with fun and games for kids and their families. 1429 West Wellington Avenue
16. Oktoberfest 2014 at Griffin Arts Center, September 27
Live bands (Juicebox Band, Gooddust, Hot Moms, Crown Vic Royal and Frosty), beers (Begyle, Empirical, Aquanaut, Metropolitan and Half-Acre) and Brats—what more do you need? Saturday, September 27 from 3 – 9 p.m. Parking lot of the future Griffin Arts Center, 1940 W. Foster Ave. $10 for adults; free admission for children under 16.
17. Raue Center Oktoberfest, Crystal Lake, September, 26, 27
The first annual Oktoberfest at Crystal Lake's Raue Center for the Arts features food, music and beer in a tented beer garden at University Center at 100 South Main St.
18. "Crawltoberfest" Bar Crawl, Lincoln Square, September 27
A costumed crawl through Lincoln Square pubs will feature a giant chicken dance, stein hoisting competition, and half-liter races. Crawlers are encouraged to dress in their best lederhosen or barmaid outfit with prizes going to the best costumes. The crawl kicks off at noon from Gene's Rooftop beer garden and continues to Chicago Brauhaus, Huettenbar, Carola’s Hansa Clipper and Ricochets. A portion of the money raised from the event will go to the Dank Haus German Cultural Center. For tickets, click here.
19. Naper Settlement Museum Oktoberfest, October 3 and 4
Live music from classic German oompa music to classic rock, plus German beer and cuisine take center stage at the Naper Settlement Museum Oktoberfest. Special family-friendly activities will take place on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Enter through the Pre-Emption House Visitor Center.
20. Lynfred Otroberfest, 15 South Roselle Road, Lynfred, October 4 and 5
This year’s Annual Oktoberfest and Pig Roast celebration will, once again, feature the popular grape stomping and spitting along with German sing-a-longs, grilled bratwurst, chili, roasted corn, roasted pig sandwiches and more.
21. Long Grove Oktoberfest, downtown Long Grove, October 4 and 5.
Long Grove celebrates its German roots with live entertainment, German bands, free hayrides, pumpkin decorating and children’s activities plus beer, brats, and traditional German food. Old McHenry Rd. and Robert Parker Coffin Rd, Long Grove Admission and parking are free.
22. “Oktoberfest with a Philharmonic Twist” at the MAC in Glen Ellyn, October 11 and 12.
A special Oktoberfest themed concert at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at College of DuPage will feature popular works by German composers on Saturday, October 11 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 12 at 3 p.m.
In addition, guests can celebrate with a pre-show outdoor Oktoberfest dinner featuring traditional German fare including grilled, split bratwurst simmered in beer & onions with sauerkraut;German-style potato salad with bacon dressing; braised red cabbage with apples & vidalia onion; traditional rustic yellow and grain mustards; homemade fresh herb spaetzle with brown butter and hearty pretzel rolls; traditional apple strudel with caramel drizzle and crushed pecans and an assortment of German beers, with music from Oom-Pah band. For tickets or more information, click here or call 630 942 4000.
23. Octoberfest Burger at R.J. Grunts—all month
R.J. Grunts Octoberfest Burger of the Month ($13.95) combines favorite German tastes on a pretzel bun. The burger features one beef patty, thinly sliced Bockwurst, sauerkraut and Düsseldorf mustard with a side of tasty beer cheese for dipping. Pair it with a Pumpkin Milkshake ($7.50) or your favorite German brew. R.J. Grunts (2056 N Lincoln Park)
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