Known as the biggest Oktoberfest in North America, the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is a beer-filled Bavarian festival that is a Wunderbar wonderland of cultural and exciting activities. While November brings Thanksgiving and December is reserved for Christmas tree picking, October is the month of pumpkin picking and celebrating German-Canadian history.
Don’t know your dirndl from your lederhosen? We’ll guide you through this Ontario Oktoberfest and break down the best things to do at this festival, as well as highlight its humble beginnings.
When is Oktoberfest in Kitchener?
While the official space is located in Kitchener City Hall, this festival is primarily based in Kitchener-Waterloo (also known as the twin cities in Ontario). The Kitchener-Waterloo (K-W) Oktoberfest traditionally takes place from September 24 till October 11.
Oktoberfest celebrates the Bavarian culture and visits various Festhallen serving hearty food and beverages. Oktoberfest usually includes different traditions to look forward to, such as the spectacular Kitchener Oktoberfest parade that takes place on Canadian Thanksgiving.
A Brief History of this Bavarian Festival
Oktoberfest originates from the historical event of the then Prince Louis I (also known by the German Ludwig I) of Bavaria marrying Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The Bavarian royalty celebrated the marriage by inviting the public to celebrate the festivities on the fields near the city gates.
Thus, began a tradition celebrated annually and has become a beacon of appreciation for the vibrancy of Bavarian heritage. It has been estimated that Oktoberfest patrons consume around 4546090 litres (1 million gallons) of beer per year.
The Waterloo Region has been participating and feeling Gemütlichkeit (a state of good cheer and friendliness) since 1969. Seeing thousands of eager visitors each year, this Oktoberfest is a top annual attraction that should be included on every Ontario bucket list.
Top Things to Do at Oktoberfest Kitchener-Waterloo
While Oktoberfest is known for beer, bratwursts, and beaming smiles from the vibey atmosphere — navigating this array of activities can get tricky. We’ve listed the crown jewels of Oktoberfest experiences to make this festival a fun-filled few days to remember (depending on your beer intake).
Watch the Oktoberfest Parade
*The 2021 parade special could be viewed live on CTV Kitchener and did not feature a live performance.
The K-W Oktoberfest Parade is one of the main attractions of the festival. This parade usually takes place on October 9 and features a cornucopia of floats and entertainment to watch.
In the past, residents would line the streets to catch a glimpse of their favourite floats and soak in the sweet scent of merriment in the air. The traditional floats include featuring the new Miss Oktoberfest and the official mascot of Oktoberfest, the orange Onkel Hans.
Enjoy and Experience KIDtoberfest in all its Glory
Need a much-needed alternative from weekend morning cartoons for your kids? Oktoberfest in Ontario provides fun for the whole family. In 2021, a wide variety of live streaming events were presented on Saturday mornings to give a splash of creativity to their weekend.
Including activities such as creating a festive Alpine hat, pancake making, and crafting the famous Onkel Hans, it’s never too early to learn all about Bavarian culture.
Taste Traditional Cuisine at Various Festhallen and Micro-Festhallen
It’s easy to associate Oktoberfest with partaking in some casual beer-chugging, but it’s also about the food! German cuisine is known for providing a symphony of cultivated and finely-crafted flavours that will have you going back for more.
Festhallen refers to venues that embrace traditional festivities. Various restaurants and bars participate in the region to offer an Oktoberfest filled with classic Bavarian staples. Be sure to pair that beer with any of these must-try foods at Oktoberfest:
- Pigs tails
- German beers
- Golden schnitzels
Tip: If you’re looking for authentic German cuisine at home, the Taste of Oktoberfest event offers online Bavarian cooking tutorials to make your tasty delights.
Catch the WunderWagen in Action
This mobile stage was incorporated in 2021 to provide a way for everyone in the Waterloo region to enjoy the magical Oktoberfest cheer from the comfort of their own homes.
This concert on wheels’ main priority is making Oktoberfest K-W participation accessible to all from entertainers to local bands. Whether you’re dancing along at your favourite restaurant or on your doorstep, this wheely wonder will have you swaying to the music in no time.
Support a Cause
Among the beer drinking and polka dancing, the Onkel Hans Food Drive is a way to give back to a worthy cause. Forming an intricate part in Kitchener Oktoberfest, this initiative collects cash donations and asks the public to participate by donating non-perishable food as well.
So, why not help your fellow man by looking in your cupboard and finally part ways with that can of beans you know you’ll never eat (be sure to check the expiry dates first).
Dress up in some German Tracht
Nothing says Guten Tag quite like sporting some traditional German garments. By adorning a dirndl or lederhosen, you’ll fully immerse yourself in the spirit of Oktoberfest in Kitchener.
A dirndl is a female Alpine peasant attire that dates back to the 18th century. It usually consists of a blouse, skirt, apron, and a bodice. While you might think simply tying your apron bears no significance, your apron bow might be making more of a statement than you think.
Traditionally, a bow on the left side means you’re single, and the right side indicates that you are in a relationship. While it might be fun to divulge your relationship status, our favourite method is a bow in the middle, which signifies it’s of no concern for anyone to know.
Lederhosen is the male counterpart of the dirndl and consists of H-shaped suspenders and shorts that are cut above the knee. They were traditionally constructed out of leather, which the word’s direct translation to “leather breeches” can be seen.
Final Thoughts on Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest
If you’re looking for the ultimate festival to add to your autumn activities list in Ontario, Oktoberfest might be the right pick for you.
Filled with exciting events, delectable dishes, and a sense of excitement in the air — nothing stokes heritage celebrating times in Ontario quite like the Oktoberfest. Whether you’re tasting your way through Germany or enjoying the Oktoberfest Parade, Kitchener-Waterloo provides a captivating time filled with unique adventures.
So, raise a beer stein and toast the days away at the annual enchanting Oktoberfest in Ontario that provides a memorable time for your entire clan.