Tour the world with tankard in hand
Oktoberfest, the annual Bavarian celebration, can be found in some unlikely places – including Hong Kong and southern Brazil
In 1810, Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen married Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria. While the couple's nuptials might qualify as only a relatively minor footnote in history, it is highly unlikely that any other wedding, royal or otherwise, has inspired so much enthusiastic drinking.
This is because the Munich wedding was the spark that led to the creation of Bavaria's famed Oktoberfest, which has not only been held every year since, save for a handful of wartime or cholera-related cancellations, but has spread all across the globe.
So for beer lovers the world over, there are plenty of festival options.
Sept. 16 to Oct. 3, oktoberfest.de
The Oktoberfest that started it all is actually as much a Bavarian cultural fair as it is a massive beer blast, albeit more the former during the day and the latter at night. In addition to the 14 big beer tents, the festival features 20 smaller, food-themed tents, a midway, daily parades and an "Oide Weisn" area devoted to the history and tradition of Oktoberfest.
Insider tip: To avoid overpaying for a city-centre hotel room – if you can even find one! – consider lodgings in nearby Augsburg and travel the half-hour or so to and from Munich by rail.
Oct. 6 to 14, oktoberfest.ca
North America's largest Oktoberfest celebration is spread out across the Kitchener-Waterloo region, with a dozen Festhallen scattered across town and as far afield as Cambridge and Elmira. While the nightly celebrations are central to the K-W Oktoberfest experience, though, they also act as bookends to more than 40 events from a five kilometre "Fun Run" to the "Stein & Dine" beer pairing dinner.
Insider tip: To enjoy beers beyond those of sponsor Molson, consider a visit to the parallel Craftoberfest, running Oct. 6 and 7 in downtown Kitchener (kwcraftoberfest.com).
Oct. 4 to 22, oktoberfestblumenau.com.br
Held in a southern Brazilian town founded by German immigrants in 1850, this hugely popular Oktoberfest sees the local Parque Vila Germanica, or German Village Park, done up in fine fashion with large music halls, outdoor biergartens for when the weather co-operates and plenty of local beer from breweries large and small. Half beer festival and half rollicking civic party, it presents an excellent excuse for exploring a fascinating and undertravelled part of South America.
Insider tip: While it is not uncommon for Brazilians to speak a second language, it's as likely that language will be Spanish or, in this part of Brazil, German, rather than English. Pack a phrase book.
La Crosse, Wis.
Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, oktoberfestusa.com
Pin an official Oktoberfest USA button on your lapel for easy entrance to all non-ticketed events at this jam-packed, 57-year-old fest. Among the featured activities are parades, a "Dachshund Dash," a gala Festmaster's Ball, the highly popular Craft Beer Night and dozens of musical performances, oom-pah-pah and otherwise.
Insider tip: Plan your Oktoberfest USA experience and buy your button and tickets well in advance using the event's user-friendly website.
Hong Kong, China
Oct. 20 to Nov. 11, gbfhk.com
Said to draw in excess of 50,000 visitors, Asia's largest Bavarian festival is the Marco Polo German Bierfest, now in its 26th year. A massive tent is erected on the viewing platform at the Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel and the Notenhobler Band presides over 23 days and nights of Bavarian-style celebrations, complete with dancing, Erdinger beer from Germany and, of course, lots of roasted pork knuckle and sausages.
Insider tip: Follow the Bierfest on Facebook or Instagram to qualify for a free ticket.
Stephen Beaumont is co-author with Tim Webb of Best Beers, a global beer guide appearing this November.