Looking for something fun and festive to do this autumn? Well, other than the obvious autumnal events and holidays like Halloween and Bonfire Night, Oktoberfest should be at the top of your list! And although there really is no better place to enjoy Oktoberfest than in its native Germany, if you can’t get to Munich then let Munich come to you! Here’s our list of the top 10 places to enjoy Oktoberfest in the UK in 2023. We’ve compiled this list of 11 fabulous events across 10 of the UK’s cities. Cheers! Or, “Prost!” as they’d say in German.
What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair). It’s held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany and lasts for 16-18 days, running from mid or late September to the first Sunday in October.
What Can You Do at Oktoberfest?
- Beer Tents: Oktoberfest is famous for its massive beer tents, which are sponsored by six major Munich breweries: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Erdinger, Paulaner, Spaten, and Hofbräu. These tents can accommodate thousands of people. The beer served here is a special type of beer called Oktoberfestbier, which is brewed specifically for this event.
- Traditional Foods: Traditional Bavarian foods such as pretzels, sausages, roast chicken, pork knuckles, and various regional delicacies are a key part of the Oktoberfest experience.
- Music and Dancing: Traditional Bavarian music and dances are a major part of the celebrations.
- Rides and Attractions: Over time, the festival has incorporated various rides, games, and attractions, making it enjoyable for visitors of all ages.
- Traditional Attire: Many attendees wear traditional Bavarian clothing, such as lederhosen for men and dirndls for women.
While Oktoberfest is celebrated in many parts of the world today, the Munich Oktoberfest is the original and the largest of its kind.
Despite its name, most of Oktoberfest actually takes place in September. This change from the original October dates was made in the 19th century to take advantage of warmer weather.
If you ever have a chance to attend, it’s a memorable experience that provides a deep dive into Bavarian culture and tradition.
When Was the First Oktoberfest?
The first Oktoberfest was held on October 12, 1810, in honor of the wedding between Crown Prince Ludwig (later known as King Ludwig I) of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities which took place in the fields outside the city gates. These fields were later named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess, and the locals often refer to the festival as “die Wiesn.”
The event was such a hit that it was decided to repeat it in subsequent years, which led to the establishment of the annual Oktoberfest tradition. Over the years, the festival grew in size and popularity. Although it began as a horse race, the emphasis shifted over the decades to the consumption of Bavarian beer, traditional foods, music, and other festivities.
Where are the Best Places to Enjoy Oktoberfest in the UK?
While Oktoberfest originated in Munich, Germany, its popularity has led to similar events being celebrated around the world, including in the UK. Numerous cities across the UK hold their own Oktoberfest celebrations, taking inspiration from the original event but adding their own local twist. Here are some of the best places to enjoy Oktoberfest in the UK:
- London Oktoberfest: A big tent in Millwall Park, Canary Wharf, is transformed into a Bavarian-themed wonderland with traditional beers, foods, and music. There are also other locations across London that participate.
- Oktoberfest East: Located in the heart of East London, this celebration provides an authentic experience with Bavarian beer, food, and live music.
- Manchester Oktoberfest: Held in Albert Square, the Manchester Oktoberfest offers a huge party with traditional beer, food, and Bavarian bands.
- Birmingham Oktoberfest: Taking place in Eastside City Park, the Birmingham Oktoberfest features the traditional large beer tents and Bavarian entertainment.
- Edinburgh Oktoberfest: Set up in West Princes Street Gardens, this Scottish celebration of Oktoberfest offers beers, bratwurst, and a Bavarian atmosphere right in the heart of the city.
- Glasgow Oktoberfest: Held in Queen’s Park, this festival has all the traditional trappings – beer, pretzels, sausages, and more, all set to the backdrop of live traditional music.
- Bristol Oktoberfest: This event is held at The Passenger Shed and offers all the Bavarian classics – from beers to bratwurst.
- Newcastle Oktoberfest: Located at Times Square, this event brings Bavarian culture to the North East with plenty of beer, food, and live music.
- Leeds Oktoberfest: Held in South Bank, this event boasts a large beer tent, traditional Bavarian food, and a fun atmosphere with live music.
- Southampton Oktoberfest: Set up in Mayflower Park, this celebration of German culture offers a range of traditional foods, beers, and entertainment.
- Liverpool Oktoberfest: Celebrated at Pier Head, it features a mix of traditional German and Liverpool culture.
Many of these celebrations attempt to replicate the Munich experience by importing German beers, hiring Bavarian bands, and even bringing over German staff. However, each city often adds its own local twist to the festivities. If you’re interested in attending any of these events, it’s always a good idea to check the specific dates and details for the current year, as these can change. Remember to book tickets in advance if required, as many of these events can get quite busy!