Celebrate Oktoberfest 2023 in Ontario
Inspired by the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich, this festival brings the large German community in Kitchener-Waterloo together, honouring their rich heritage with music, entertainment, food and drink. Over 50 non-profit organizations and thousands of volunteers help out to bring this festive event to life, attracting throngs of visitors from the local region and around the world.
Step through the doors of the Oktoberfest’s festhalle, which means festival hall, and be whisked away to a world of festive cheer, lively music and delicious food and drinks.
What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is a festival that celebrates Bavarian culture in German and around the world.
The first Oktoberfest was held to commemorate the wedding of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. Over 40,000 citizens of Munich came out to attend this royal event, which featured a parade, horse races, performances and other celebrations. Oktoberfest continued to be an annual tradition, adding multiple events like tree climbing, bowling alleys, carnival booths, agricultural shows and more. A feast of sausages, sauerkraut, beer and other staple German foods were served.
To celebrate the proud German-Canadian heritage in Kitchener-Waterloo, the first Oktoberfest in Ontario was founded in 1969 by a group of passionate volunteers and $200. This small group succeeded in attracting almost 75,000 visitors, and its success continues to be repeated every year.
When is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest typically takes place over nine days in early to mid-October.
This year’s Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest starts on September 22 and ends on October 14, 2023.
How to get to Kitchener-Waterloo
Kitchener-Waterloo is located in the Grand River Valley in Southwestern Ontario, about an hour and a half drive west of Toronto.
If you’re driving from Toronto, take the ON-401 West or ON-403 West. Alternatively, travel by public transit. GO Transit provides increase train or bus services from Union Station in downtown Toronto to the Kitchener GO Station during Oktoberfest.
How to buy tickets for Oktoberfest
Some Oktoberfest events, such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade, are free and open for public viewing. However, you’ll need to pay for tickets in advance to attend the main festival activities and special events.
Purchase tickets for Oktoberfest events from the official website. Ticket pricing depends on the event, but typically range between $10–$30.
What to wear to Oktoberfest
While not mandatory, many guests at Oktoberfest dress in traditional Bavarian clothing.
Lederhosen, which translates to “leather trousers”, are knee-length shorts, plus long, thick socks worn by men. They are often accompanied with a checkered shirt and sturdy boot-like shoes called haferl.
The dirndl dress worn by women includes a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron. A traditional dirndl can be costly as they’re tailored and made from hand-printed or silk fabrics. The dirndl is often worn with flats or loafers. Both the lederhosen and dirndl come in a wide range of styles, patterns and colours.
Casual, modern attire is also perfectly acceptable for Oktoberfest.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest opens with the tapping of the first beer keg, performed by the event leader. Following that tradition, explore a wide variety of venues that offer unique family and cultural experiences during the multi-day festival. Popular events at Oktoberfest include:
- Thanksgiving Day Parade: The main event of Oktoberfest is the annual parade of floats, inflatables and bands along Weber Street. The event is free to attend, however limited paid seating are available if you want the best views of the parade.The Onkel Hans Food Drive will be on-site to collect monetary donations and non-perishable food items for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. This anticipated event is televised across Canada to millions of viewers.
- Oktoberfest golf experience: Play a few rounds of tournament golf at the Galt Country Club, one of Ontario’s most premiere private golf clubs. The event opens with an Oktoberfest-themed lunch and keg tapping ceremony, followed by on-hole prizing.
- Music: Celebrated artists including Marianas Trench, David Wilcox, The Trews, and Finger Eleven will be performing live during Oktoberfest. Check the event calendar for the dates and times.
- Kids’ activities: Families are welcomed to Oktoberfest with special kid-focused entertainment. Kidtoberfest features traditional music, dancing and arts and the KinderFest Fall Fair involved carnival rides, face-painting, pumpkin cookie decorating, s’mores roasting and tasty fall-themed treats.
What to eat at Oktoberfest
If you love hearty German cuisine, you’re in for a treat at Oktoberfest. Thousands of sausages and countless litres of beer are consumed over the course of the festival. Here is a sample of food and drink to try:
- Indulge in traditional dishes at the Bingemans Bavarian Feast, including authentic German sausage, sauerkraut, spaetzle and craft beer. Tickets for this feast also provide access to the “Kool Haus Biergarten”, an outdoor party with live entertainment.
- Sit in the outdoor piazza and enjoy delicious food, local beer and entertainment at the Oktoberfest Market Festival. During the day, look out for signs detailing special Oktoberfest menu items from pop-up food vendors like Chef D and Meatatian.
- Sample schnitzel, cabbage rolls, pig tails, apple strudel and other traditional German foods at the Alpine Club. You’ll also be treated to performances by the Alpine Dancers and Transylvania Club Dancers.
- Specializing in hunting, wildlife and the natural environment, Hubertushaus serves up rollbraten pork tenderloin barbeque, homemade spaetzle and sweet tortes.
Places to stay during Oktoberfest
Find great accommodations that are close to the Oktoberfest festivities and offer the perfect amenities for you. Just book well in advance! Here are some of the best places to stay in Kitchener-Waterloo:
Open since 1893, The Walper has been a staple hotel in Kitchener for decades. Enjoy a good night’s sleep in cozy heritage rooms that showcase unique designs. You’ll be just a short walk away from some of the city’s most popular attractions like the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Centre in the Square and THEMUSEUM.
Location: 20 Queen Street South, Kitchener
Stay in spacious, comfortable rooms at the Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo. This sleek, modern hotel is located in the heart of the city’s bustling technology hub. It offers a variety of family-friendly and recreational amenities like bowling, mini-putt, an arcade, ping-pong, an indoor heated pool and more.
Location: 105 King Street East, Kitchener
Located near Fairview Park Mall, the Quality Inn in Kitchener-Waterloo features a variety of bright, airy rooms. You’ll have access to the fitness centre, on-site laundry facilities and charging station for electric vehicles. Enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast before heading out for the day.
Location: 2899 King Street East, Kitchener
Courtyard by Marriott Kitchener is situated close to the city’s top shops and restaurants. This large hotel offers roomy suites that include a mini-fridge, microwave, TV and workspace. Enjoy breakfast with Starbucks coffee in the bistro, dine on fresh Italian pasta in Del’s Italian Kitchen or sip on crafted cocktails on the patio.
Location: 2960 King Street East, Kitchener
Last updated: September 8, 2023