The Best Oktoberfest Celebrations in the U.S.

Oktoberfest is one of the world’s most famous celebrations. Most people focus on the drinking aspect, but this Bavarian party is a folk festival and carnival as much as an excuse to hoist a few beer steins. The most famous version of Oktoberfest is in Munich, where 5 to 7 million people attend the 16- to 18-day event, including visiting the Hippodrom (pictured). Going to Munich in autumn is not always possible, and even if a trip to Central Europe is financially doable, you might want to celebrate a little closer to home.

Luckily, Munich isn’t the only place to do it. A number of places have authentic celebrations, especially towns founded by German immigrants. While American versions of Oktoberfest don’t draw as many revelers, you’ll be able to find good beer, authentic food, enthusiastic polka bands and, most importantly, a celebratory atmosphere.

Here Are The Most Insane Competitive Eating Records

The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is like the Super Bowl of competitive eating. But just like with the NFL, there are other matchups that matter that don’t receive the same fanfare as the big game. Competitors battle over plates of wings, Twinkies, burgers, and all-out T.G.I. Friday’s sampler platters. So, before you watch Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie attempt a new world hot dog record this Fourth of July, take time to digest some of these numbers. These are a few of the other insane competitive eating records that exist. Now grab the Alka-Seltzer cause it hurts just to look at them.

We calculated approximate calories based on a typical version of the food the competitors consumed. Because of varying sizes, these numbers are just approximations.

competitive-eating-records-chart

Bonefish Grill Turns National Martini Day into a Month-Long Celebration

Bonefish Grill is turning National Martini Day into a month-long celebration in June. While the official day dedicated to America’s favorite cocktail is June 19th, the fresh fish experts are offering guests a flavorful array of hand-crafted martinis priced at $5 every Monday for the entire month.

Bonefish Grill martinis are already a favorite on the restaurant’s extensive bar menu – perfectly complementing their wood-grilled fresh fish and seasonal seafood offerings. In fact, the mighty martini is on-the-rise nationwide. A report published by the U.S. Beverage Alcohol Forum found that vodka – a main ingredient in martinis – accounts for over a third of all spirits consumed in the country, and that number continues to grow.

“At Bonefish Grill, we’re known for our hand-crafted cocktails all year ‘round,” said Leigh Merritt of Bonefish Grill. “We’re excited to give our guests another reason to love our martinis.”

Bonefish Grill features classic favorites as well as seasonally-inspired recipes. The selection includes flavors to please every palate, from tastes of the tropics in its Wild Orchid Hawaiian Martini and Ocean Trust Tropic Heat Martini recipes to classics like the Ultimate Infused Dirty Martini to fruity creations featuring Fresh Pineapple, Fresh Raspberry, Strawberry Rosé, and Pomegranate Martinis.

The origin of National Martini Day is unknown, though the cocktail made its first definitive appearance in the 1888 edition ofThe Bartenders Manual by Harry Johnson. In mixing a martini, the ingredients are poured over ice and shaken together, then strained into its signature glass. Bonefish Grill takes hand-crafting martinis to another level, starting with its house-infused vodkas, adding fresh squeezed juices, then shaking the carefully mixed concoction a minimum of 20 times to ensure the drink is ice cold.

Guests can enjoy June’s $5 Monday martini offering at Bonefish Grill restaurants nationwide.  Open daily, hours and participation vary by location.

You Can Eat Christmas Dinner At Hogwarts, For A Price

This year, platform nine and three-quarters is opening up to the public for Christmas dinner. That’s right: you can dine at Hogwarts this winter, if only for a small fee.

So the dinner is actually on December 3rd, and a ticket will get you access to the great hall of the Harry Potter franchise fame. It’s the latest event to be added to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and it’ll cost you. One ticket is $349. Yikes. But, for the hefty cost of admittance, you’ll get butterbeer, access to Diagon Alley, a custom wand, and a view of “the breathtaking Hogwarts castle model (covered in a layer of filmmaking snow especially for the festive season),” as the studio tour website details. 

I guess it’s time to figure out that “accio $350!” spell I’ve been working on for a smooth five years, huh?

German Oktoberfest Celebrations Around The World

The largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany is in the twin cities of Kitchener & Waterloo in Ontario/Canada (1,000,000 visitors), Blumenau/Brazil (700,000+), Cincinnati, Ohio/USA (500,000+ visitors), and Denver, Colorado/USA (450,000+ visitors). In addition to North America, many other countries have their own Oktoberfest events:

Argentina

The National Beer Festival (Fiesta Nacional de la Cerveza) is Argentina’s version of the German Oktoberfest. It has taken place every October since 1963 in Villa General Belgrano, Córdoba. The party emerged by the hand of the first German immigrants. This festival attracts thousands of tourists for 2 consecutive weekends.

Australia

In Australia, the universities are notorious in their celebrations of Oktoberfest, and as students graduate and move on, this has rolled over into pubs and restaurants in the university areas. The Harmonie German Club, Canberra, holds an Oktoberfest over a 3-day period every year. The festival is currently in its 45th year, and attracts a large number of visitors.

Brazil

In Brazil, several southern cities, populated by Germans in the 19th and 20th centuries, have their own Oktoberfest, with the biggest one in Blumenau, celebrated annually since 1984. There are 18 days of music, dance and food, commemorating ancestors that came from Germany. In 10 days in 1984, 102,000 people (more than 30% of Blumenau’s population) attended, now it’s more than 700,000. Festivals are also being held in Santa Cruz do Sul and Igrejinha, Rio Grande do Sul, and Rolândia, Paraná.

Canada

In Canada there is an annual 9-day celebration spread over 18 Festhallen in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. It attracts over 1,000,000 visitors annually. While its best-known draws are the beer-based celebrations, other cultural and entertainment attractions also fill the week. The most well-known is the parade held on Thanksgiving Day; as the only major parade on Canadian Thanksgiving, it’s televised nationally. (Coincidentally, the closing day of the Bavarian Oktoberfest also lands on the German equivalent of Thanksgiving, Erntedankfest.) The twin cities and surrounding area have a long history of German roots; Kitchener was formerly named Berlin. A large portion of the population identify as being of German heritage, many still speak German. A common phrase at the celebrations is Gemütlichkeit. The word is even programmed into bus route displays, so during Oktoberfest it will show the route and Gemütlichkeit, or Willkommen. Another celebration is held in Sherbrooke, Quebec at the beginning of October. The 1-night event is held by Sherbrooke’s University engineering students’ association and gathers around 5,000 people.

Chile

In Chile beer fests are celebrated in Valdivia, Puerto Octay, Puerto Varas, Frutillar, Llanquihue, and Malloco.

Colombia

In Colombia it is sponsored by Bavaria Brewery. A series of concerts and events are held along different cities, with special emphasis in those with German background like Bucaramanga.

Germany

The Oktoberfest Hannover is a fair which takes place every year at the end of September/beginning of October. It usually lasts 16 days and features 160 rides and inns, 2 large beer tents seating more than a 1000 people each, and numerous stands offering refreshments. With more than 1 million visitors each year, it is the 2nd-largest Oktoberfest in the world.

Hong Kong

The Oktoberfest was started here in 1991. It is celebrated in late Oct and early Nov (local dry season) and is hosted by the Marco Polo Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, just next to the Star Ferry pier. The hotel sets up a traditional tent with long wooden tables and benches with capacity for 1,500 to create an Oktoberfest atmosphere. The German Band Die Notenhobler from Ulm entertains the approx. 85% Chinese audience. Their program starts at 19:30 every night and comprises 3 parts: traditional German music, games and competitions, party music. The hotel caters traditional Southern German foods, such as pork knuckle, sausages with sauerkraut, and apple strudel or milk-cream strudel together with beer (past sponsors were Löwenbräu, Veltins, Jever, Löwenbräu). It’s a popular destination for private functions and staff parties of large corporations as well.

India

In Bangalore, Kingfisher beer established The Great Indian October Fest in 2005.

Ireland

In Cork, the Francisan Well Brewery has an Oktoberfest festival whose dates parallel those of the festival in Munich. Downes Pub in Waterford have been celebrating annually since 2002 and their celebration culminates in an evening in October that features German beer-drinking music from the City of Waterford Brass as well as a wide selection of imported German beer. Oktoberfest is celebrated in University College Dublin each year with a Bavarian-themed festival taking place in the Pit next to the Forum bar on campus.

Mexico

In Mexico, there are several cities celebrating this event, which has grown in popularity over the 19th and 20th centuries. The best known Oktoberfest takes place in the southern part of Mexico City, at the Club Alemán in the borough of Xochimilco. The German and German-Mexican community is a regular, but the event is attended by residents of many backgrounds. The celebration is in most traditional German fashion, with the Mexican fiesta kick. Typical German food and keg beer are available. A hand craft market and amusement rides are also set up.

Palestinian Territories

An Oktoberfest celebration is held in the West Bank town of Taybeh, home to the only Palestinian brewery (Taybeh Brewery). The first Taybeh Oktoberfest was held in 2005.

Romania

In Romania, the Oktoberfest has been organized in Brasov (Kronstadt in German), Transylvania since 2009, in early Sept by the Deutsche Wirtschaftsklub, in association with local authorities. Traditional German and Romanian beers, foods, and music can be found in each edition.

United States

German-Americans are the country’s largest self-reported ancestral group. Correspondingly, there are hundreds of large and small Oktoberfest celebrations held annually throughout the country, the largest being in Cincinnati, Ohio. Known for its large German immigrant population, Pennsylvania and its historic Pennsylvania Dutch (actually Pennsylvania Deutsch but Americans say Dutch and hence, mix us up with Dutch people from the Netherlands…) population are well known to have Oktoberfest celebrations during the months of Sept and Oct. These celebrations became increasingly popular among the general population in the later half of the 20th century with the rise of microbreweries, and with the opening of authentic German brew houses such as Hofbrauhaus in Pittsburgh, PA and Las Vegas, NV.

‘Hell’s Kitchen’: Winter Haven Native Wins

La Tasha McCutchen of Winter Haven won “Hell’s Kitchen,” a head chef position at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and a total prize valued at $250,000.

“My nerves were all over the place,” said McCutchen, a kitchen supervisor who now lives in Wilton Manors. “I knew I would have to fight and prove myself like never before to simply define myself as a true competitor in this industry. My goal was to stay true to what I know and if I went down, I was going down swinging.”

And now she’s the champ of the Fox contest’s 13th season. Aaron Lhamon of Orlando also competed.

McCutchen’s attitude helped her. “Chef Ramsay’s critique can be brutal, but his passion for food is undeniable and his standards for service are inspiring,” she told the Sentinel. “I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to compete on such an intense level.”

On the 29th season of “Survivor,” Natalie Anderson, a CrossFit coach from Edgewater, N.J., was named the $1 million victor. Most jury members applauded her risky playing style, which kept the long-running series unpredictable. Her twin sister, Nadiya, had been voted out first in the “Blood vs. Water” setup. The sisters had played two seasons of “The Amazing Race.”

The other players in the “Survivor” finale were Jaclyn Schultz, a media buyer from Las Vegas, and Missy Payne, owner of a cheerleading gym in Dallas.

Alec and Drew Christy, brothers from Winter Park, had competed.

For its 30th season, “Survivor” will pit blue-collar players against white-collar hopefuls and contestants with a no-collar style. “Survivor” returns in February.