Where to Enjoy the Best Oktoberfest in Texas
Where to Enjoy the Best Oktoberfest in TexasSeptember 22, 2017
Fall in Texas means slightly lower temperatures, less blistering sunlight and, thanks to a deeply-rooted German cultural history in the Lone Star State, plenty of Oktoberfest celebrations.
History of Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest began in Munich in 1810 with a royal wedding. The citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig, and the closing ceremonies of this celebration included a feast and horse races. The decision to repeat the horse races the following year marks the beginning of the Oktoberfest tradition. In later years, an agricultural show was added to boost Bavarian agriculture, and in 1960 the horse races were discontinued. What remains is a celebration of German culture and heritage that has grown into an international event.
So how does Texas fit in? The roots of Texas German history and culture can be traced way back to the 1800s, when an influx of German immigrants came to Central Texas. These settlers founded towns like New Braunfels, Gruene and Fredericksburg, now quintessential historical tourist and getaway spots for Texans and visitors alike.
In the early 1950s and 60s, however, Texas German culture experienced a resurgence, which led to the emergence of Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the state.
Today we celebrate our Texas German history with traditional German influences—beer, sausage, polka—with a side of Texas favorites like barbecue and jalapenos. And while many of the most lauded Oktoberfests in Texas celebrations take place in South Central Texas where the German roots are strongest, it is possible to find authentic, Texas-sized parties and events near all major metros that celebrate the endurance of Texan-German history and culture.
Go quirky in Houston
Houston’s official Oktoberfest celebration is an all-day affair held the last Saturday of September at The Water Works at Buffalo Bayou Park. There are the standard Oktoberfest traditions—polka dancers, beer in one liter boots or steins and bratwurst. But the event is also hosting a slew of outrageous games for adults like a Stein Race, Stein Hoisting Competition, The Legendary Brat Toss, and beer and flip cup tournaments. Being a family-friendly event, Houston Oktoberfest also comes equipped with Texas beer garden favorites like giant Jenga and corn hole.
If you feel like venturing a little outside of the loop for your Oktoberfest celebration, you should try King’s Biergarten and Restaurant in Pearland.
OKTOBERFEST AT THE WATER WORKS
SATURDAY, SEPT. 30, 11 A.M. – 6 P.M.
105 SABINE ST., HOUSTON, TX 77007
Go traditional in San Antonio
If in San Antonio, head over to Alamo Beer Company for their tradition-inspired festivities with live music, limited edition steins, and a Stammtisch, a special German-style family meal.
THIRD ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST AT ALAMO BEER
SEPT 29-OCT 1, TIMES VARY
PRICE: $50 PER PERSON
202 LAMAR ST., SAN ANTONIO, TX 78202
For a more historic approach, Texas German history and culture have an authentic home in San Antonio at Beethoven Maennerchor, a historical hub of German culture and heritage dedicated to preserving German language, song and music. It is also one of Texas’s oldest singing societies. It is only natural that this traditional German community center hosts Oktoberfest in their beer garden next door. The events run through the first two weekends of October, complete with the mandatory German food and beer.
BEETHOVEN MAENNERCHOR OKTOBERFEST
OCT. 6-7 & 14-15, TIMES VARY
PRICE: $5 DONATION
422 PEREIDA, SAN ANTONIO, TX 78210
Despite its strong roots in the history of German heritage in Texas, New Braunfels annual Wurstfest—taking place Nov. 3-12—is not a traditional Oktoberfest! It was founded by a local son who returned from Germany with stories about Oktoberfest and his parents, who wanted to highlight the German tradition of sausage-making in New Braunfels. Today, the festival is a sprawling, multi-venue attraction near the picturesque Comal River. Days of live music, beer and sausage celebrate the strength of Texas German culture and community.
NOV. 3-12, TIMES VARY
PRICE: FREE( BEFORE 7 P.M. ON FRIDAY, 11/4 OR AFTER 3 P.M. ON SUNDAY, 11/12)
178 LANDA PARK DR, NEW BRAUNFELS, TX 78130
Small towns rock Oktoberfest near Dallas
We are going to venture outside city limits for this next one. It turns out that some of the coolest Texas Oktoberfest celebrations are happening just outside of Dallas, in hip little suburbs like Southlake and McKinney. Both towns host full-fledged festivals complete with a mix of traditional and local music, food and drink, and Weenie dog races.
SEPT. 22-24, TIMES VARY
111 N. TENNESSEE ST., MCKINNEY, TX 75069
Southlake’s Oktoberfest festival runs Oct. 6-8 and—unlike other big city celebrations—is free to attend and park. Three separate stages offer a variety of music entertainment and a family fun zone offers those with young children the chance to enjoy some non-alcoholic activities. Southlake might be a small town, but their Oktoberfest is a pretty big deal—the Southlake Chamber of Commerces reports that over 100,000 people attend this event throughout the weekend.
OCT. 6-8, TIMES VARY
185 S. WHITE CHAPEL BLVD., SOUTHLAKE TX 76092
Take an Oktoberfest day trip in or near Austin
While still plenty weird, Austin likes its Oktoberfest pretty traditional–but nonetheless festive–so expect the usual German influences, with some Texan accoutrements. Expect some topnotch sausages from distinguished barbecue experts like Louie Mueller, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew and Micklethwait Craft Meats. While the event is one night only, there is still plenty to explore in Austin.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 30, 5-11 P.M.
1607 SAN JACINTO, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78701
Austinites also have the distinct privilege of living in driving distance of some of the cultural-historical hubs of Texas German society.
In Fredericksburg, the Oktoberfest celebrations are a bit more traditional, but no less exciting. Can anyone say OkTubaFest? This weekend festival runs Oct. 6-8 and encompasses four different live music venues. Other activities include a 42 tournament, coordinated chicken dance event and an 8K Kraut Run complete with men and women dressed in traditional German costume. Even if you do not participate, this is something to see.
OCT 6-8, TIMES VARY
PRICE: $8-$18 (ADULTS) & $1-$3 (CHILDREN, 7-12 YEARS)
100 WEST MAIN, FREDERICKSBURG, TX 78624
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Where to Enjoy the Best Oktoberfest in Texas