Of the many great German imports to North America, Oktoberfest has to rank up there with the best.
Who doesn’t like hoisting steins of bier, munching on pretzels, dining on schnitzel and dancing to an oom-pah band?
The annual fall celebration, which arose from a royal wedding in Munich a little more than 200 years ago, transfers well to our mountain resorts, where the changing leaves, whether aspen or maple, and looming peaks provide a glorious backdrop to the revelry.
With that in mind, here are the sites of our favorite ski-country Oktoberfests (drindls and lederhosen optional):
It’s dubbed “Utah’s Original Oktoberfest” and for good reason — the annual autumn bash in Little Cottonwood Canyon has been around since 1973. With 50 or so varieties of beers on hand to sample, the Snowbird ’Fest is perhaps the greatest beer festival in the state. The celebration takes place on weekends from mid-August to mid-October and have a variety of activities and food and brew specials. Check out snowbird.com/Oktoberfest for details.
The town’s main thoroughfare gets so jammed every early September that they say its the largest street party in the Rockies. It’s where “Munich meets the mountains”, and with three dozen German cuisine and brew vendors offering their wares it’s easy to see why. The 25th installment of the Breckenridge Oktoberfest takes place Sept. 6-8. For further information go to gobreck.com/event/breckenridge-oktoberfest.
Befitting the town’s and resort’s image as cowboy country, Steamboat puts a little twist on the celebration, calling it OktoberWest. This year’s fest, which takes place Sept. 13-14, features more than 40 Rocky Mountain breweries and is highlighted by a Beer Stroll in downtown Steamboat on Friday and Beef Cookoff at the Mountain Village on Saturday. Check out steamboatchamber.com/events/annual-events/steamboat-oktoberwest for details.
Tucked up in the high mountains of the Washington Cascades, and not far from the famed Stevens Pass resort, is the Bavarian-style village of Leavenworth. And for the first three weekends of October they say it’s the next best thing to being in Munich. The main part of town is closed down for the celebration, and every Saturday at 1 p.m. the mayor solemnly conducts the keg tapping ceremony. For further information go to leavenworthoktoberfest.com/festival.
The home of the Great Northern Brewing Company is also the home of the Great Northwest Oktoberfest, where authentic German beer, food, music and fun is served up Montana style a few miles down the road from Whitefish resort. You’ll also find log-sawing, keg-hurling and stein-hoisting events over the two weekends (Sept. 26-28 and Oct. 2-5). Details can be found at whitefishoktoberfest.com.
For more than two decades Attitash has been serving as a proxy for Munich in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The King Ludwig Bavarian Band will oom-pah-pah away while revelers compete in stein-hoisting and schnitzel- and keg-tossing competitions on the second weekend in October. Check out attitash.com/event/Oktoberfest for details.
Celebrating and preserving authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest culture is Mammoth’s stated goal and they seem to be doing a pretty good job of it. This year’s celebration, which takes place Sept. 19-21, includes all the basics: beer, schnapps, a 3-course Bavarian dinner, commemorative steins, music and a 1K-run-and-chug. Details at mammothoktoberfest.com.
Famed for its party atmosphere during the snow season, Hunter clicks as well in the fall with its annual Oktoberfest. Hosting numerous vendors serving up German and German-American crafts, food and beverages, the resort breaks its four-weekend celebration into four separate themes: ciders of the Catskills (Sept. 28-29); Off-road leaf peeping (Oct. 5-6); Eurocar rally (Oct. 12-13), and wine tasting from local vintners (Oct. 19-20). Check out huntermtn.com/activities/oktoberfest for details.