Oktoberfest, much like Christmas, seems to get earlier each year. The beer-soaked festivities were once a celebration of the Bavarian crown prince, who went onto become King Louis I, marrying Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen (a name that couldn’t sound more Austro-Germanic if it were Matilda Bratwurst Von Trapp).
The 19th century saw the annual celebration slowly turn into an agricultural fair with plentiful seasonal food and drink, falling as it did during harvest. By the late 1980s though, beer became the most enduring legacy of the festival and across the globe, what we now recognise as Oktoberfest flourished.
Like Christmas, it really shouldn’t begin before the first Sunday of October, but also like Christmas, it tends to start in most cities from mid-September onwards.
Across town there are plentiful Oktoberfest celebrations, and we’ve amassed the best below. Don your dirndls and unleash your lederhosen: it’s time for bier.
Crowds and drinking go hand in hand at Oktoberfest and so, naturally, Boxpark lends itself as a suitable venue. Whilst the brand has outposts in Croydon and Shoreditch, it’s the Wembley site playing host to oompah and steins this October. Tickets start from £12 each with multiple of group table booking options for larger parties.
October 21, Wembley, HA9 0JT, boxpark.co.uk
Richmond might not immediately seem an obvious spot for Oktoberfest revelling, but it happens to be one of the bigger (read: better) parties in town. Expect a huge pop-up tent over the weekend, playing host to live music, comedy and an array of German grub up for grabs. Beyond bratwurst, expect Frikadellen, Pan Haus, Schnitzel and plenty more besides.
September 29 & 30, Richmond Athletic Ground, TW9 2SS, oktoberfestparty.co.uk
Probably the most central Oktoberfest celebration, the ease of reaching Bierschenke Bierkeller in Covent Garden is sure to get the gang gathered. It’s been over a decade that the Bierschenke boys have been celebrating Oktoberfest, and with a regular oompah band part of their weekly festivities, it’s not much of a stretch for them to get the seasonal party going.
From September 20, 50 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LJ, bierschenke.co.uk
The name of the party? Wunderbar. It’s self-styled as a “horn-blaring, stein-sloshing Bavarian knees up”, which sounds just about right for a raucous Oktoberfest celebration. Beer booths are set to accommodate the bigger groups with huge communal tables the setting for German lagers by the stein. There will be prizes for the best dressed too, so don’t dip the dirndl.
From September 28, 5 Kingdom Street, W2 6PY, pergolapaddington.com
The very official-sounding London Oktoberfest is probably the most classic and most authentic iteration of Oktoberfest in town. Don’t look for DJs till late and steins being chugged: instead, go to any of the three events for an altogether more grown-up affair. Well, as grown-up as it’s possible to be whilst eating a giant pretzel dressed as a 19th century German farm hand.
October 19 – 21, Walpole Park, W5 5EQ; October 26-28, Finsbury Square, EC2A 1PQ; November 2-4, Finsbury Square, EC2A 1PQ; london-oktoberfest.co.uk
Munich Cricket Club
Another group with sites covering the capital, Munich Cricket Club (who, copyright aside, call themselves the MCC) are due to host Oktoberfest bashes at its Victora, Tower Hill and Canary Wharf locations. The menu comes in under £15 a head and with party platter and drinks packages on offer too, this one might be the most wallet-friendly party going.
September 16 – October 31, Tower Hill, EC3N 2AU; Victoria, SW1P 2LU; Canary Wharf, E14 4AE; munichcricketclub.co.uk
German Jukebox, live comedy, pretzels and bratwursts specially flown in from Germany’s Black Forest are all present and correct as Electric Brixton hosts this all-out party in SW2, celebrating the very best of Oktoberfest. Staff will be dressed in traditional dirndls and lederhosen, ferrying steins-a-plenty about the capacity venue.
October 7, 14, 21 and 28, Electric Brixton, Brixton Hill, SW2 1RJ, electricbrixton.uk.com
The No Limit street band will be playing the oompah hits, Bavarian schnitzel and bratwurst will be filling the bellies of punters and games with prizes will aim to keep revellers entertained at Camden’s biggest and buzziest Oktoberfest celebration.
Each Saturday from September 30 – October 28, Electric Ballroom, 184 Camden High Street, NW1 8QP, electricballroom.co.uk
Big Penny Social
It’s worth making the trip up to Walthamstow to Big Penny Social, not least for the huge Oktoberfest extravaganza it has planned. Club de Fromage will be making sure the cheesy club classics make there way to the UK’s biggest beerhall, following the authentic oompah band and steins all round. With tickets starting at about £13 with discounts available for groups, this is one to book before it’s too late. Prost!
September 29 & 30, 1 Priestley Way, E17 6AL, bigpennysocial.co.uk