From its origins in the early 1800s as a party to mark the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, to a massive harvest celebration for farmers and brewers, Oktoberfest has become the largest festival of its kind, drawing beer connoisseurs and foodies from near and far.
It may have originated in Munich, but, worldwide, cities are making Wiesn (local for Oktoberfest) their own by serving up hearty Bavarian fare that would make Ludwig proud.
Here are the best local treats at three of North America’s biggest Oktoberfests.
Alpine Village, Torrance, Calif.
Now in its 47th year, the Oktoberfest in Alpine Village has been voted one of the best in the world by USA Today. Be sure to try the homemade Polish bratwurst, served up with sides of coleslaw and potato salad, but leave plenty of room for the local favourite: a crisp, chocolate cream-filled flaky pastry horn, topped with a dusting of icing sugar. (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 5 to Oct. 26)
Home to the most famous Oktoberfest outside of Munich, Kitchener-Waterloo comes alive with mouth-watering aromas during its nine-day, city-wide party that has been welcoming guests for the past 46 years. Delectable German treats can be found throughout the area during the festival, but make sure to stop by Hubertushaus in nearby Mannheim for its famous rollbraten, a spit-roasted pork loin served with homemade spaetzle (German noodles), gravy, coleslaw and a buttered roll. (Oct. 10 to 18, venues throughout the city)
Lake Worth, Fla.
The American-German Club of the Palm Beaches has been hosting Oktoberfest since 1974. Boasting a traditional yet modern atmosphere, with music ranging from classic oom-pah-pah to upbeat German folk, this festival is one of the 10 largest in the country. Locals love the sauerbraten, a meaty spin on pot roast, with cuts marinated in red wine for 10 days to produce a tender and juicy dish. (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 10 to 19)
Behind the Scenes: Carnaval de Quebec
The 17-day annual Carnaval de Quebec (Jan. 26 to Feb. 11.), one of the world’s largest winter festivals, takes place in Quebec City and welcomes more than 400,000 visitors. Carnaval CEO Mélanie Raymond dishes on free events, top draws and the history behind the beloved winter festival.