Leavenworth Oktoberfest: Plan Ahead
Located in the foothills of the central Washington Cascades, the quaint Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth has been hosting Oktoberfest celebrations since 1998. The festival runs for three consecutive weekends and is ranked as one of the top Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States. Cost of festival entry for 2016 was $10 on Fridays and $20 on Saturdays. Tickets for beer and food are purchased once you are inside the venue. (2017 dates include: Sept. 29-30/Oct. 6-7/Oct. 13-14).
The festival grounds are located in the center of town and consist of four main venues, various stations where food and drink can be purchased as well as a variety of vendor booths. The four venues - Festhalle, Tanz Halle, Spass Platz and Bier Stube offer music, seating, food and beverages. Entertainment consists of authentic bands & dance groups from the United States, Canada & Germany.
Here are a few tips for an enjoyable trip to the Leavenworth Oktoberfest:
1) Plan ahead and make sure to book lodging way in advance. Leavenworth is a small town and Oktoberfest is a big draw which means the hotels in town fill up 8 to 9 months in advance. I would recommend staying right in town where you can walk to and from the fest as well as take in the Bavarian ambiance. Most hotels require a two-night minimum and your best bet will most likely be a Thursday/Friday booking.
2) Plan to spend a couple days in Leavenworth. It is a bit of a drive from Portland (roughly 4.5 hours) so give yourself several days to explore the town and surrounding area. Some of the best hiking (as well as some excellent mountain biking) in Washington State is just minutes away. Definitely spend a day out exploring the Enchantments on foot, which is by far one of the best ways to earn your beer!
3) Locals shared that Friday nights are more peaceful and less busy while Saturday’s tend to be much busier and on the rowdy side, so pick your preferred scene. We were at the festival on a Friday evening and it was busy but not so busy that you had to wait in line to buy food or beer and there was plenty of seating in the halls.
4) Once you get into town make sure to pick up one of the free Leavenworth Oktoberfest guides. This has all of the festival details including what beer will be on tap, food information, a festival map and the entertainment schedule. We found the entertainment to be top notch. We really enjoyed the Beer Barrels, The Gordanairs & Z’Musikmakers (who did a great rendition of the song Gangnam Style but their version was called Polka Style).
5) Don’t be afraid to bust out your dirndl, lederhosen or other Bavarian clothing. We saw a wide range of styles represented. People were dressed in very authentic clothing to some oddly humorous takes on Bavarian style and just about everything else in between.