It’s still September, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start celebrating Oktoberfest.
The beer-and-bratwurst festival got its start in Bavaria in 1810 as a horse race, held as a part of the wedding festivities of King Ludwig I and his wife, Theresie. The citizens liked the race so much that it became an annual event. It evolved into what we know as Oktoberfest today, as the focus shifted away from the horse race and toward fun rides and drinking beer.
That original race was a one-day affair. But over the decades, it disappeared and Oktoberfest got longer and longer, until it lasted two weeks, as it does today in many places. In Bavaria, the weather can get rather frigid in the middle of October. To avoid a snowy Oktoberfest, the decision was made to start the event earlier, usually around the beginning of the fourth week of September.
Southern California has a good number of Oktoberfests, many of which have already kicked off. Some are public and free, others are run by associations or businesses and charge admission. We’ve compiled a list of several by county below. And given the large concentration of microbreweries and micropubs throughout the region, there are plenty of other venues to choose from. Wherever you decide to celebrate, we send you a hearty Prost! (Cheers!) and Sum Wohl! (To Your Health!) before each round.
When: September 30-October 2
Where: Downtown La Mesa Village, Spring Street and La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa 91942
The 43rd Annual La Mesa Oktoberfest is the largest Oktoberfest celebration west of the Mississippi, boasting over 100,000 attendees a year. Since 1973, the event has evolved and now features hundreds of exhibitors, family-friendly activities, German food, music, dancing, games, and of course, beer. This event is spread out over nearly six city blocks in La Mesa Village.
When: September 30-October 2 and October 7-9
Where: Downtown El Cajon, 1017 S. Mollison Ave., El Cajon 92020
Cost: Adults $10 Fridays and Saturdays, $5 Sundays, active military and under 21 free
Presented by the German American Societies of San Diego, this more traditional Oktoberfest features authentic German food such as bratwurst, ox on the spit, potato salad, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, red cabbage, pretzels, and a variety of pastries. The Guggenbach-Buam band from Baden-Württemberg, Germany, performs waltzes, polkas, and more with musicians dressed in traditional German clothing.
When: October 2
Where: Mountain Vista Drive and North El Camino Real, Encinitas 92024
Designed for family fun, the 21st annual event presented by the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce features entertainment, authentic German music from Hammerstein Musik Bavaria, the Gemütlichkeit Alpine Dancers, carnival rides, a street craft faire featuring over 200 vendors, and a ceremonial parade at noon.
When: September 11-October 30
Where: Old World German Village, 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach 92647
Cost: Varies by event
Old World has been host of Orange County’s biggest Oktoberfest since 1977. This year’s promises to be the best celebration yet, offering authentic German food, imported German beers, bands straight from Germany, a parade, kinderfest, Dachshund races, and other festivities, competitions, games, and more spread out over various dates in September and October.
When: October 1
Where: Old Town San Clemente, 111 W. Avenida Palizada, San Clemente 92672
Cost: $10 online, $15 at gate, under 14 and over 69 free with general admission ticket
A full day of German beer and wine, German chocolate, bratwurst, sauerkraut, a parade, and more are planned in Old Town San Clemente.
When: September 9-October 29
Where: Alpine Village, 833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance, 90502
Cost: $5-$50 depending on day and ticket level
Gemütlichkeit (friendliness) is in the air at the multi-weekend, oldest and largest Oktoberfest in Los Angeles County. Enjoy traditional Bavarian fun supplied by “oom-pah-pah” party bands, traditional German fare like bratwurst, sauerkraut, and pretzels, wine, and German beers brewed by Warsteiner.
When: October 21-23
Where: Rosecrans Ave., Manhattan Beach 90266
Put on your lederhosen and get your stein ready for traditional foods, beers, beer maidens serving brews; lively tunes, and singalongs of old time drinking songs. The LA Oktoberfest offers three- and four-hour passes that include a glass stein and unlimited refills for the entire event.