Oktoberfest 2012: The Best Biers and Brats Across the Globe
Sixteen days, over five million people, and -- most importantly -- seven million liters of beer: That's Oktoberfest in Munich. What began as a wedding celebration in 1810 [Ed. note: Sounds like a fun wedding!] has grown into the world's largest fair, attracting locals and tourists to the Bavarian city every September and October to down tasty traditional treats followed by long swigs of brew. Sound amazing? Yea, it's pretty hard to beat. But nonetheless, it has inspired copycats all over the world, and they're doing a pretty darn good job at keeping up. From Santiago to Hong Kong, Bavarian aficionados have hosted their own Oktoberfests for years: Some are traditional, some not so much, but they all harken back to their Munich origins in one way or another. So if you can't make it to Germany this year, don't fret. We have the scoop on the most wunderbar Oktoberfests across the globe — and the best hotels for sleeping off those delicious Bavarian brews. Prost!
Oktoberfest #1: Santiago, Chile
Multiple bierfests are celebrated every fall throughout Chile, due largely to a mass German immigration that began in 1848 and continued throughout the 19th century. And today's locals do not skimp on their festivals. For example, Malloco's Oktoberfest — or Fiesta dela Cerveza — is held this year from October 30 through November. Just a short ride from Santiago's city center, the festival serves food and drinks from Der Munchner, a traditional German restaurant in Malloco, whose owners also run an organization promoting German events in the area.
Where to Stay: The Aubrey
Housed in an historic Spanish mission-style building, The Aubrey is a designer boutique that offers guests free breakfast and afternoon tea, a quirky piano lounge, and funky, modern decor that spices up the property's old world architecture with neon upholstery and playfully-patterned walls. It would make any German — whose country is known for cutting edge design — feel right at home.
Oktoberfest #2: Kitchener and Waterloo, Canada
Located an hour outside of Toronto, the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo are home to the world's third largest Oktoberfest, falling in line right after Munich and Brazil's Oktoberfest of Blumenau. After all, Kitchener and Waterloo each have deep German roots, with many individuals still speaking German in the area. And Kitchener was even originally named Berlin, so it makes sense that these cities can celebrate almost as well as Munich. Attracting over one million visitors annually, the nine-day festival is best known for its beer-based celebrations, but there is also a parade held on Canadian Thanksgiving, as well as several other German-Canadian cultural celebrations throughout the festival. And music lovers willl definitely want to check out the "Rocktoberfest" and "Hip-Hoptoberfest" concerts.
Where to Stay: Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square
This sleek Toronto stay is a great choice for those visiting the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. Conveniently located near restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions, the Hotel le Germain Maple Leaf Square lets visitors see a lot before they head out to get their hands on some Bavarian brews.
Oktoberfest #3: Boston, Massachusetts
For the last 23 years, Harpoon's Ocktoberfest has been a Boston tradition. The brewery sets aside the last weekend in September each year to swill their Oktoberfest beer (but brewed with a New England twist, of course), serve up German fare such as würstl (sausages) and brezeln (pretzels), and pump some bangin' oompah music throughout Boston's Waterfront.
Where to Stay: The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston
Exuding an old world grandeur that harkens back to the days of the original Oktoberfest — but with plenty of modern amenities, we promise — The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston features the most opulent lobby in the city -- covering an impressive 5,000 square feet and with 21-foot-high gilded coffered ceilings, a classic oak-paneled bar and restaurant, and top-tier service. All-in-all, this hotel is certainly befitting of the festival's founders: King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Bavaria. Relax in the lap of luxury before joining the other commoners for brats and biers.
Oktoberfest #4: Reading, Pennsylvania
Known for its Dutch roots, Pennsylvania is home to many Oktoberfest celebrations during the months of September and October. But the oldest and largest is hosted by the Reading Liederkranz, an hour outside of Philadelphia. This group, which was founded back in 1885, serves all of the traditional fare and hosts several bands throughout the festive weekend. Plus, this is a Oktoberfest where you can bring the kiddies along: It offers numerous family-focused activities, such as clown performances.
Where to Stay: Le Meridien Philadelphia
One of the most stylish hotels in Center City, Le Meridien strikingly combines historical and modern design elements that helps to transform this former YMCA into a cool boutique. Stylish rooms with up-to-date technology, a sunny interior atrium, and a quality French brasserie and bar make this a great home base for those traveling to Reading.
Oktoberfest #5: Sydney, Australia
Sydney may be the best option for the college set looking for a more rousing musical act than your standard oompah band, as The University of New South Wales hosts an Oktoberfest-themed concert every year. Tickets are first sold to university students, so unless you know someone there -- or you're an UNSW student yourself -- you'll have to wait for general admission tickets to go on sale, and they sell out quickly. But if you do get in, expect an awesome dance party with raving music, food, and beer. Frat party meets Oktoberfest? Well, you gotta at least try it.
Where to Stay: Quest Potts Point
With room rates that won't bust a college budget, Quest Potts Point is an excellent choice for visitors determined to party at UNSW's Oktoberfest. Each room features a kitchenette, so guests can also pinch a penny or two by whipping up their own meals. But perhaps best of all, the hotel's location in the King's Cross area means guests will be within easy reach of the neighborhood's bohemian culture and nightlife.
Oktoberfest #6: Hong Kong
Hong Kong's Marco Polo German Bierfest (yes, we see the irony in that title) is the longest running German bierfest in Asia — and it never ceases to impress. For 20 years, the Marco Polo Hotel has served hundreds of thousands of guests in a tent overlooking Victoria Harbor. Authentic German delicacies like roast pork knuckle are dished out, Oktoberfest beers are swilled, and the Notenhobler, a German band, plays throughout the night.
Where to Stay: InterContinental Grand Stafford
A stone's throw away from the festival, the tastefully-decorated InterContinental Grand Stafford features up-to-date technology and marble bathrooms in the rooms, and offers gorgeous views of Victoria Harbor. Though not the most opulent hotel in Hong Kong, it does have an extensive spa, solid dining, and a heated rooftop pool. And did we mention the view?
Oktoberfest #7: Denver, Colorado
Denver's Oktoberfest has been bringing the best of Bavaria (as well as some fun, quirky activities) to the Mile High City since 1969. In addition to the standard bier, brats, and music, this stateside version of Oktoberfest also features fireworks, stein hoisting, and a Long Dog Derby complete with costume contest (AKA the most adorable thing to ever happen at a bierfestival).
Where to Stay: Hotel Monaco Denver — A Kimpton Hotel
A pet-friendly hotel, the Hotel Monaco Denver won't scoff -- in fact, they'll be pumped! -- if you come with pup in tow for the Long Dog Derby. But even pet-less guests will be happy at this bright, cheerful locale, with funky design details and great freebies. Hotel Monaco also boasts an excellent spa and fitness center, perfect for working off those biers.
Oktoberfest #8: Dublin, Ireland
Guinness might be the name of the brewing game in Dublin most of the time, but every September, the Irish cede to the Bavarian way of life and indulge in German Weizenbier -- or wheat beer -- during Dublin's Oktoberfest. They also cook up the typical German offerings and host the Bavarian Games — a series of events that test Irish muscle, prowess, and beer gut, including yodel contests, stein lifting, and, obviously, a drinking challenge.
Where to Stay: The Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin
The beautifully designed Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin has a fantastic location overlooking St. Stephen's Green. Huge bathrooms with soaking tubs, three unique restaurants (one with a Michelin star), and luxe touches make this hotel an ideal place to relax post-bierfestival and pre-Guinness factory tour.
Oktoberfest #9: Chicago, Illinois
Last but not least, Oktoberfest Chicago is hosted each year at St. Alphonsus' Church, which was founded by German immigrants in 1882. Homemade bratwursts, cold beer, and music from authentic German bands are the usual contenders here. There's also a Kinderfest for the tykes to enjoy as well.
Where to Stay: Villa D' Citta
Oktoberfests -- no matter where they are -- largely focus on German culture, but the Villa D' Citta serves up a little taste of Italy in large rooms with antique accents and quaint balconies that make guests feel like they're livin' la dolce vitta. An outdoor rooftop Jacuzzi and sundeck, a brick courtyard with a barbecue, a large communal kitchen, and an in-house theater are the unique amenities you'll enjoy at this romantic bed and breakfast. After a day at the Oktoberfest celebrations, coming home to your own private villa will be almost like going on a European adventure, all from the comforts of the Windy City.