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Beer, Brats, and Polka: Where to Celebrate Oktoberfest


Most fairytales end in princes and princesses riding on horseback off into the sunset. This one resulted in beer, brats, and polka. How, might you ask?

More than 200 years ago, Bavarian Prince Louis married his bride, Princess Therese. The citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate, with festivities taking place on the fields in front of the city’s gates, since known as “Theresienwiese” (Theresa’s fields) or just “Wies’n.” The event closed with a horse race, which was then repeated the following year, and, over time, grew into what we now know as Oktoberfest.

Now I realize this is Minnesota, not Germany, Journeys, but we celebrate here in such a grand way, it might be hard to tell the difference. So throw on your lederhosen or dirndl, grab a stein, and join in on the fun.

Twin Cities Oktoberfest; Photo by Austin Fassino

Mill City Oktoberfest (Sept. 28): Put on by the Mill City Museum and Mill City Farmers’ Market, this event takes place inside the museum, outside in the ruin courtyard and in the farmers’ market area next to the Guthrie Theater. Of course you’ll be able to enjoy drinks (Fulton Brewing and 2 Gingers Whiskey will be handing out samples) and native foods, but this event is a little more family-friendly, with dancers, baking demonstrations and the traditional kids’ wurfkastanien (throwing chestnuts).

Twin Cities Oktoberfest (Oct. 4 & 5): Spread across the Minnesota State Fairgrounds you’ll find food vendors serving everything from leberkase to sauerbraten, mugs of Summit Oktoberfest, carnival and bar games, traditional dancing entertainers and German merchandise. With each paid admission (21+) you get a 24-ounce stein, and the first fill is free.

New Ulm Oktoberfest (Oct. 4, 5, 11 & 12): This two weekend long event takes place across four venues: the Holiday Inn, downtown, Schell’s Brewery and Morgan Creek Vineyards. Festivities kick off at the Holiday Inn with musical entertainment that doesn’t truly end until the festival does. On Oct. 5, Morgan Creek Winery, the states only underground winery, will be open for tours. On Oct. 12, Schell’s will offer music, dancing, food, and plenty of its Oktoberfest brew under a giant outdoor tent. Both Saturdays the downtown area will be filled with hometown bands, horse-drawn trolley rides, specialty shops, food vendors, a 45-foot glockenspiel, and more.

Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit (Oct. 12): This Northeast Minneapolis spot is normally frequented by those who either possess or appreciate German genes, but even more so during its celebration with dancing, live polka music, beer, and food like brats, sauerkraut, and apfelstrudel. Bring your own beer mug, or buy one for $6.

Black Forest Inn (Sept. 27-Oct. 6): You’ll find more unique festivities here, including strength competitions modeled after masskrugstemmen (participants hold out a liter of beer with a straight arm at shoulder height and the first one to falter loses), grimm stories, the releasing of 99 red balloons, and the chance to say or renew your vows, just as the Bavarian price and princess once did.

As they say, welcome to Wies’n, or welcome to Oktoberfest!

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Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

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