In Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we take our beer and beer gardens seriously year-round, but especially in early October when the German tradition of Oktoberfest rolls around.
The good news is no matter where you find yourself in these first few days of the harvest, there are dozens of Oktoberfest celebrations in southeastern Wisconsin alone, so you’re sure to be near a fest worth visiting.
Here are a few of our favorite Oktoberfest celebrations in Wisconsin this year.
Oktoberfest U.S.A. – La Crosse, WI
One of “das beste” Oktoberfest celebrations in the country and the longest running in the Midwest, La Crosse’s Oktoberfest is second to none in the US. This is an authentic, true-blue Oktoberfest celebration as good as anywhere you’ll find outside of Germany itself.
Don’t forget to pick up a commemorative drinking glove at nearly any bar in town, which will be strategically fingerless so you can keep a firm grip on your soft pretzel.
Location: Downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin
Top Attractions: Three days of beer, brats, German food, parades, live music, a dachshund race, local food trucks and vendors, kids’ activities, and an irrepressibly joyous spirit that permeates the entire downtown area
Milwaukee Oktoberfest – Milwaukee, WI
Fest local, drink local. Keep your harvest celebration in town and enjoy a 3-day Oktoberfest right in downtown Milwaukee, near the lakefront. The 11th annual Oktoberfest promises great views, top-notch German food, and plenty of bier to go around.
Pro-tip: fest responsibly and take the MCTS or a ride-share to and from the grounds.
Location: War Memorial Center in Milwaukee, WI
Top Attractions: Brat-eating contest, cornhole tournament, dachshund show, a Miss Oktoberfest competition, and world-class German food from the famous Kegel’s Inn
Milwaukee’s Original Oktoberfest – Glendale, WI
Considered to be the oldest and most authentic fest of the Bavarian variety, the Bavarian Bierhaus’s Oktoberfest celebration is a must-stop if you’re in the Milwaukee area.
Find traditional biers, German and Bavarian food, live music, and more at this metro-area celebration, one of the only ones on the North Shore.
Location: Heidelberg Park at the Bavarian Bierhaus in Glendale, WI
Top Attractions: Beer, food, music, and family-friendly fun
New Glarus Oktoberfest – New Glarus, WI
Many a-Wisconsinite’s craft beer obsession began with a simple brew: New Glarus’s Spotted Cow. This beloved brewery southwest of Madison hosts an annual Oktoberfest that rivals any community celebration in the state, plus you get to enjoy it all in a quaint small town with gorgeous Swiss-inspired architecture and buildings.
Both New Glarus the town and the brewery are only-in-Wisconsin gems, so be sure to hit up this Oktoberfest celebration at least once in your life.
Location: Downtown New Glarus, WI
Top Attractions: Ceremonial keg tappings, live music, local food and beer, wagon rides, tractor pull, chainsaw carvings, and family-friendly events
Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest – Chippewa Falls, WI
The Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest is perfect for those in the northern half of the state. The town itself is packed with German heritage and beer history, and the festival has unique and unexpected events like a sauerkraut-eating contest and German food and cultural demonstrations.
Location: Northern WI State Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls, WI
Top Attractions: Endless beer, German food, a sauerkraut-eating contest, a stein-holding competition, demonstrations of German traditions, tons of live bands and performers, and an entire “family fun building”
For many Wisconsinites, Oktoberfest is a special time, and not just because of the beer and brats. It’s a time to welcome in the autumn season, celebrate the bounty of the harvest, and share in some good old-fashioned gemütlichkeit with friends, family, and neighbors.