On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. More than 200 years later, Americans have an excuse to drink a ton of beer in October (and September). Indeed, the first Oktoberfest was just a giant wedding, held in the fields of Munich, Germany, and attended by all the city’s citizens. The festivities ended with a feast and a horse race (that’s right, Saratoga racing fans), and the decision to hold the race again the following year gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest, which this year, the citizens of Munich are celebrating for the 184th time, having skipped the celebration during wartime. (Sadly, the tradition of horse racing at the event ended in 1960.)
Sometime during the last two centuries, the secret of Oktoberfest got out, and while Munich’s celebration is the largest and most famous—about six million people attend each year—Oktoberfest events are held all around the world. Even in Upstate New York. Here are eight Oktoberfests coming to our region this fall.
Location: Great Escape – Queensbury, NY
Date: 3 consecutive weekends starting September 8-9
Catch the last weekend of Great Escape’s Oktoberfest Picnic, which, if you’re with a group of ten or more, is highlighted by a German feast in Northwood’s Picnic Grove on Saturday, September 22. Other attractions include fun games with prizes in the Fest Area, a performance by Tony’s Polka Band and seasonal and German brews. If you’re looking to celebrate the season with kids in tow, this Oktoberfest is a great option.
Whiteface Mountain Oktoberfest
Location: Whiteface Mountain – Wilmington, NY
Date: September 22-23
In recent years, ski resorts across the country have started hosting Oktoberfests, and for good reason—they get people excited for ski season and offer up some of the best leaf-peeping opportunities in the northeast (many offer gondola and chairlift rides for better vantage points). Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, NY, near Lake Placid, hosts one of the best ski resort Oktoberfest, having been named one of the top five, must-visit Oktoberfests in North America by Ski magazine. Tickets are $35 for both days, which includes a gondola ride and one-liter stein with a beer coupon, $20 for one-day admission plus a gondola ride and $16 for one-day admission only.
Location: Hunter Mountain – Hunter, NY
Date: 4 consecutive weekends starting September 22-23
Speaking of ski resort Oktoberfests, Hunter Mountain’s is one of the longest. The free event runs for four consecutive weekends, and features live entertainment, food, numerous vendors and free crafts for kids. Each weekend also has its own unique draw: cider tastings (September 22-23), off-roading adventures (September 29-30), a Eurocar rally (October 6-7) and wine tastings (October 13-14).
Location: Maalwyck Park – Schenectady, NY
Date: September 29
The 9th Annual Glenville Oktoberfest will return to Maalwyck Park on the Mohawk River the last weekend of September. Events include a cruise-in car show, live music, vendors, kids activities, a dunk tank, a dachshund dash, a family movie and fireworks. Obviously, this is another family-friendly event.
The North Albany Oktoberfest
Location: Broadway – Albany, NY
Date: September 29
The Matt Baumgartner, by the way.) Tickets are $15 pre-sale and $20 the day of the event, and the first 3000 people to purchase a ticket will receive a commemorative beer stein. Participants in the morning’s Oktoberfest 5K get free admission.
Lake George Village Oktoberfest
Location: Canada Street – Lake George, NY
Date: October 5-7
The first of two Lake George Oktoberfests (see below), the Lake George Village Oktoberfest transforms Canada Street, across from Shepard Park, into a Bavarian-style street fair for three days. The event has free entry and includes nonstop German and polka music, dancing, a beer garden, local artisan vendors, carnival rides, food, keg tossing, pony rides and more.
Oktoberfest Block Party
Location: Bridge Street – Amsterdam, NY
Date: October 6
The Oktoberfest Block Party returns to Bridge Street on Amsterdam’s south side. It will feature food, live German music, beer, games, craft vendors, a costume contest and stein hoisting.
Adirondack Brewery Oktoberfest
Location: Adirondack Pub & Brewery – Lake George, NY
Date: October 13
This second Lake George Oktoberfest is also on Canada Street, but at Adirondack Pub & Brewery. Therefore, unlike the Lake George Village event, it’s a 21-and-over event. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door, and they get you entry into the festival, a fivehome-ounce sampler stein, a $10 food voucher, unlimited sampling of beers and ciders, entry into the games and contests held throughout the day and free parking. All ticket proceeds will benefit the Lions Club. There will also be prizes awarded for best costume, so pull out those lederhosen!