Halloween gets all the attention when it comes to autumn celebrations, but there is another seasonal holiday complete with costumes and treats earlier in the month that is arguably even more boisterous than our favorite All Hallow’s Eve, and that is Oktoberfest!
This annual two-week-long festival of merriment and libation is primarily observed in Munich, Germany, but can be celebrated anywhere with the right tools. There are a multitude of ways to participate in this lively holiday without leaving the comfort of home.
If you don’t know where to start, check out these tips on how to throw your own Oktoberfest celebration!
Plan, Plan, Plan
You may not be using the entire two weeks to enjoy the Oktoberfest festivities, but it is still practical to think ahead and keep things from getting disorganized or out of hand. There are only a few essentials to keep in mind when preparing for the day’s events: food, games, music, and beer. Especially beer.
Start with invitations and make your way down the checklist of festival staples. Although Munich’s Oktoberfest uses large-scale parades with beer wagons and floats promoting popular breweries, your backyard celebration can take the same idea and bring it down to your scale by setting up some canopy tents or beer stations with a variety of beers.
Clear out the yard
With all the setup involved in this seasonal party, you’ll need a lot of room to work with. Depending on the backyard living area, it will take some time to clear out the space. If you plan on using beer tents or canopies, heavy solar shades, or large furniture could get in the way and cause more harm than good. If the kiddos have a jungle gym in the middle of the backyard, it might be a good idea to stow that away for the day to make room for some more festive games.
Don’t worry about packing up the whole patio, but perhaps rearrange the design in a way that accommodates a larger crowd. Do whatever works with your backyard space to give you the freedom to enjoy the holiday to the fullest.
Decorate with Bavarian colors
It is a German festival after all, so staying true to the cultural traditions by using the colors of its origins is expected. The history of the festival dates back to 1810 after the marriage of the Crown Prince of Bavaria, so decorating the space in the colors of the Bavarian flag is an easy way to stay authentic.
Using this color palette will elevate the celebration and further immerse your guests into the country’s culture. Use Bavarian blue as the focal color throughout the party’s decor and compliment it with items in gold, giving the environment a cohesive balance. It is popular to use a blue and white checkered pattern when celebrating Oktoberfest, so take a look at some custom covers and table covers that use this design.
Get games ready
You may not be able to afford full-scale amusement park rides and entertainment, but you can get creative with some easy outdoor games commonly used during the Oktoberfest season, such as stein races, a stein holding contest, or beer drinking contest. Stein races are pretty simple to set up. Split the group into two teams and have them hold a stein filled with beer or water. Have each team run around a relay point with the stein in hand and the fastest team who spills the least wins!
The stein holding contest is pretty much the same concept, but instead of running around the backyard, participants must hold out the filled stein at shoulder height and keep it at the same level for the longest amount of time. Disqualify those who bend their elbows or lower their mug. Just be sure to skip arm day at the gym in preparation.
Finally, the beer-drinking contest is pretty self-explanatory. Fill those glasses up, and the fastest to finish one wins. Drink responsibly and limit the number of times partygoers can participate.
Having these games will keep friends and family entertained while they anticipate the delicious German feast awaiting them.
Buy Brats from your local butcher
One of the most popular foods found in a traditional Oktoberfest celebration is the almighty bratwurst. This crowd favorite will surely satisfy the hungry guests and compliment the various lagers available. The best way to guarantee quality meat is to pick up the brats from your local butcher. It will be more bang for your buck and a great addition to the Oktoberfest menu. Don’t forget to add a little sweet mustard like the Bavarians.
Have german snacks on hand
Brats are not the only thing needed to satisfy a hungry crowd, so pick up some traditional German snacks as well! The Bavarian Pretzel is one of the most popular finger foods found at this lively event. Complete it with obatza, the delicious cheese dip commonly accompanying the pretzel, and you’ve got a winner.
A close second to the pretzel is the ever-delicious potato pancakes or kartoffelpuffer. Easy to make and a sure crowd pleaser, make sure these are available to keep guests coming back every year.
Prepare your beer menu
As delicious as the food selection may be, at Oktoberfest the beer is the star of the show. During the fall season, it should be easier to find Oktoberfest style beers at your local beer store, but if you want to stay as authentic as possible, find beers from the same breweries that set up tents in Munich: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten.
There should be something for everyone when preparing the menu for the upcoming celebration. At the very least, find Hefeweizen and make sure to serve it in a Hefeweizen glass.
But before serving any beer, it is customary to have a ceremonial barrel-tapping to kick off the celebration. Appoint someone as the proxy mayor of Munich to tap the keg or open the first beer and yell “O`zapft is!” to let the party begin.
Lead drinking songs
Once the drinks start pouring, it is time to start singing. A live band is not necessary to embody the spirit of Oktoberfest. Get up on a chair, channel the Bavarian soul within and belt out any of the traditional songs.
“Fliegerlied” is one of the most iconic songs heard at Oktoberfest. Also known as “The Flyer Song,” this will surely get the guests in the holiday spirit. Another Munich classic is “Ein Prosit,” a lively ballad about toasting to cheer and good times, so raise your glass and sing your heart out!
Do not feel restricted by these options because Oktoberfest is all about having fun and enjoying the company of your friends. You might want to cover some of the backyard amenities with outdoor lifestyle covers or tarps to protect against any potential spills from the festivities.
Halloween isn’t the only time to wear costumes in the fall! Oktoberfest encourages participation in folksy-style attire that complements the traditional aesthetic of the holiday.
After the five-day celebration of the newlywed King Louis the I, it ended with a horse race combined with a state agricultural fair. Because of its rustic origins, adorning yourself in lederhosen and dirndls is the best way to celebrate its history and feel immersed in the traditions.
Don’t forget cleaning
Now, after the festivities start winding down, it would be responsible to begin cleaning up before the mess builds up too much. Clear out any glassware to avoid the potential hazard and throw out leftover food to keep pests away. At the end of the night, it’s time to take down the tents and tables. All that is left behind will be the memories of an incredible evening. Now you can say you successfully threw the best Oktoberfest outside of Munich!