In an effort to experience more of Canada, no Canadian bucket list would be complete without Kitchener’s Oktoberfest! Although I grew up just 30 minutes away from Kitchener, I somehow had never been to Oktoberfest before this year. We had an awesome time drinking beer, eating German food and experiencing this world-renowned event – and now I’m ready to share my tips with other ‘Octoberfest first-timers’ in this Quick Guide to Canada’s Oktoberfest!
Canada’s Oktoberfest takes place in Kitchener, Ontario for nine days every year in October with over 700,000 visitors in attendance. This is the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, after the original festival in Germany of course! The festival takes place at 5 major venues across Kitchener (such as Concordia Club and The Transylvania Club), and events range from family-friendly parades to late-night parties. The opening ceremony takes place at Kitchener City Hall and includes the official “tapping of the keg” to signify the start of the festival.
The events vary from venue to venue (or “Festhallen” as they call them). Choose the wrong event and you could end up spending your night drastically different than you hoped for!
The events at Concordia Club came highly recommended to me from multiple sources – and they couldn’t have been more right! The crowd at Concordia Club was an average age of 30-35. There were no drunk 21 year olds and the crowd was mature, yet still fun. What I loved most about the event at Concordia Club was that there was a combination of German music, ‘modern’ music, delicious food and plenty of activities/ games.
If you’re of the college/university age group, then I’d recommend checking out the events at Altes Muenchen Haus – which typically caters to a younger crowd. For those seeking a more authentic (and much more mature) experience, consider attending events at Alpine Club or Schwaben Club.
For a families looking to bring their kids along, the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade is the perfect family-friendly opportunity to participate in the festival.
Where To Stay
The Walper Hotel is a gorgeous boutique hotel in downtown Kitchener that’s not too far from the events. The spacious rooms are bright and airy (making them the most comfortable place to nurse your Oktoberfest hangover!) and the location is walking distance to the area’s best restaurants. The hotel is also walking distance to Kitchener City Hall (where the opening ceremonies take place) and is in close proximity to the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade route. Staying at The Walper Hotel not only keeps you close to the action, but also allows you to experience the best of Kitchener-Waterloo. You can read my full review of The Walper Hotel right here!
What To Eat
Since Kitchener-Waterloo is known for their German community, it’s no surprise that the German food at Oktoberfest is authentic and delicious. Don’t miss the chance to sample as much German cuisine as you can! The sausages on a bun with sauerkraut were my favourite, whereas Paul loved the schnitzel on a bun. The German pretzels were also very good, and were the perfect snack along side a beer! Next year, I look forward to trying the cabbage rolls – because they looked pretty damn good too.
What To Wear
The dress code at each event is casual, so feel free to wear jeans and your favourite shirt. If you want to get in on the fun purchase or rent a Bavarian costume! We saw lots of people dressed up, and being so close to Halloween it would be fairly easy to find a “beer maiden” costume in stores this time of year. If you’re not prepared to go all-out with a costume, consider purchasing a hat with a feather so you can dress for the occasion… without fully committing!