What comes to mind when you think about Oktoberfest? Oktoberfest is most famous for its beer, which was probably your first thought. You may also think about lederhosen, brats, Volkswagens, the harvest season and all the delicious things that you can cook and brew from the fall bounty. But that’s not how Oktoberfest started.
Originally, Oktoberfest was a celebration of a royal wedding between the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. All the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities, which were held over five days on the fields in front of the city gates.
The horse races, not beer, were the highlight of the wedding event. And the Royal family loved the horse races so much, it was decreed that they were to be repeated at all anniversary celebrations held thereafter. However, what’s a celebration without food, music and drink? Carnival booths and parades to celebrate the Bavarian culture were added and the festival quickly became an annual tradition.
Oktoberfest has changed substantially since its origins in 1810; the horse races ended in 1960 and the beer halls became elaborate tents, one tent holding 12,000 people. Oktoberfest has become the world’s largest fair (also known as the world’s largest beer festival), now attracting over six and half million visitors each year.
So what does Seattle have to do with Oktoberfest? There is a large representation of people with German ancestry in Seattle and, of course, Seattleites do love their beer, particularly the local specialty beers. The most well-known Oktoberfest celebration in Seattle is the Fremont Oktoberfest where Seattle’s funky culture collides with the love of dog contests, 5K competition with contestants dressed in outrageous costumes, and a Beer Tasting Garden overflowing with local brews. In addition to the annual Fremont Oktoberfest, Kirkland Oktoberfest is coming back to Kirkland Marina Park for the second year! Kirkland Oktoberfest runs over the course of 3 days from September 26 through 28 and takes place on the waterfront in downtown Kirkland. Enjoy German and local craft beers, traditional German fare, music, wiener dog racing and costume contests.
Waterways Cruises will have its own Oktoberfest celebration this year. We will pull on our lederhosen and add a nautical twist to a Seattle Oktoberfest celebration. We invite you to join us aboard the Oktoberfest Cruise from Kirkland on September 27 at 7:30 pm. We will have plenty of specialty Oktoberfest beers (you can even buy a Beer Bucket) and a buffet full of German delicacies from Bratwurst to Wiener Schnitzel to Apple Strudel. Top it off with toe-tapping polka music from our fabulous onboard accordion player and you won’t have to fly to Bavaria to experience a fun Oktoberfest. We hope to see you aboard with your mug full of beer!