It’s finally here.. the much anticipated 10-day German festival known around Kitchener-Waterloo known as Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest 101 Here’s the story for those new to Oktoberfest..
The Festival Origin..
Once upon a time, long long ago in a far away land known as Bavaria, a Crown Prince, who later became King Ludgwig I, married the beautiful princess Therese Von Sachesen-Hildenburghausen.
The loyal soldiers in the Prince’s National Guard thought that the horse races would be a most fitting way to celebrate the happy event. King Max, proud father of the Prince, gave his consent to the races and so they became the finale of five days of wedding festivities on October 17, 1810. This was the likely beginning of Oktoberfest.
The horse races became an annual event and were combined with the state agricultural fair the following year. It wasn’t until 1818 that booths, serving food and drink, were set up at the event. In the late 1800’s, the booths had grown into large beer halls or tents, which are still set up each year on the Theresienwiese named in honour of Ludwig’s bride.
Flash forward to today..
Since 1969, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest has become the largest Bavarian festival in North America with the greatest Thanksgiving Day Parade in Canada. Through the celebration of this Spirit of Gemuetlichkeit, thousands of visitors celebrate annually in dozens of Festhallen scattered across the city and attending some of the more than 40 family and cultural events.
If you haven’t been, you should really check it out. While some people have a negative idea of out of control beer bashes, that is not true. Sure, there is a lot of partying that goes on around town among the younger crowd, but I promise you that there is so much more to this wonderful festival and I encourage you to give it a try.
My Top 5 Family Event Picks for Oktoberfest
Here are some of my favourite FAMILY events for you to consider… all are FREE and I guarantee you will have fun and make some great memories!
#1 Thursday Oct 4th
City of Waterloo Mayor’s Luncheon & Waterloo’s Official Opening Ceremonies
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Waterloo Public Square, corners of King Street South and Willis Way.
Come enjoy music, camaraderie and free delicious traditional food (while quantities last) served by the Mayor and Councillors. Click here for more information. Onkel Hans, Miss Oktoberfest and with traditional music by the Black Forest Band.
#2. Oktoberfest FREE Family Breakfast
Saturday October 6th
FREE – donations to the Food Bank gratefully accepted
7:30 – 11 am
Waterloo Public Square (on King between Erb & William)
This is a fabulous new tradition that we are enjoying. The Waterloo Square comes alive with thousands of people, live German music and a fabulous festive atmosphere. Oh and don’t forget the FREE amazing breakfast of sausages, pancakes and coffee! Yes there will be a line-up but this event is incredbily well organized and I am blown away at how quickly it moves. Within about 20 minutes, you will be eating. A seriously great time and wonderful way to start off the festival.
#3. Oktoberfest Parade
Monday, October 8th
Starts at 8:30 am
Starting in Uptown Waterloo – 8:30 am
The parade is a highlight of the 10-day Oktoberfest celebration for families across the region and this is one annual tradition that our family won’t miss.
Getting up before the sun comes up to bundle up and claim our spot with the thousands of other people lining the parade route each year to watch the awesome collection of floats, bands and special entries that are part of this annual event.
The KW Oktoberfest parade features one of the most spectacular Thanksgiving Day Parades in Canada. Join over 150,000 Fest-goers as they line King Street on Thanksgiving morning, eagerly awaiting the colourful floats, clowns and award winning marching bands from Canada and the United States.
The Parade route is always lined with enthusiastic onlookers as it travels its 5 km route starting from King and Erb Streets in Waterloo and ending to King and Madison streets in Kitchener.
Donations to the Food Bank are accepted along the parade route so do your part and bring along some non-perishable donations to help those less fortunate.
The parade is also televised so if you can’t make it in person, watch the local CTV network broadcasts the Parade nationwide. Check your TV listings for the airing time in your location.
#5. Wilkommen Platz Festhalle
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest at Willkommen Platz! Our family always visits this spot at some point during Oktoberfest to get our little slice of Oktoberfest.
Located in the heart of downtown Kitchener-Waterloo, Willkomen Platz is a festive and FREE festhalle located where Frederick Street meets King Street. The entire area for about 2 or 3 blocks is transformed with many outdoor stages, food vendors and various activities for everyone to enjoy.
This is the centre of what turns into a ‘Bavarian Villiage” in downtown Kitchener for the 10-day festival and this tent features FREE live entertainment on the Children’s Stage. Check out the displays and activities, excellent authentic German food, snacks, beverages, information, souvenirs and of course, a wee Bier Garten. Fun for the whole family. The Platz is open daily through the festival.