The Why’s, When’s, and Where’s.  



Last weekend marked the close of Munich’s annual Oktoberfest celebration, with the closing events taking place on October 3rd. That doesn’t mean the fun is over however, as Massachusetts has its own Oktoberfest celebrations coming later in October.  

So what is Oktoberfest, exactly? 

Known as the largest beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest has its origins in the German city of Munich. In 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig married his bride, Therese on October 12 and invited the citizens of Munich to celebrate the happy day. At the time, there was more food than alcohol at the fair, and it was focused more on the celebration of a marriage than of drinking. At the close of that first fair they held a horse race in the presence of the newlyweds, and there marked the beginning of a new tradition. The next year they hosted another horse race and included an agricultural fair. At this second event, there were small booths set up serving beer to the thirsty fair-goers. As the years passed, Oktoberfest became more about the beer than the horse races and agricultural shows, which were eventually replaced with carousels, swings, musical performances, art, and other forms of entertainment. Today the festival lasts 16 days and is attended by more than 6 million people who drink close to 7 million liters of beer at the festival each year!  

Oktoberfest Munich is so widely popular that other parts of the world with large German populations host their own Oktoberfest celebrations. The next four largest Oktoberfest celebrations take place in Brazil, Canada, the United States, and China, respectively. Here in Massachusetts the largest Oktoberfest celebration takes place in Amherst.  

According to Oktoberfestma.com, the first Oktoberfest Massachusetts took place in 2015 “as a direct response to controversial events that gave the town of Amherst a black eye.” That first event was widely popular with people in the area, with close to 1,400 people attending to revel in the art, music, food, and beer that the festival provided. In 2016 Oktoberfest Massachusetts paired up with Samuel Adams to host close to 1,800 people in Amherst and expanded to Boston as well. This year, the festival is set up to be even bigger with a capacity of 2000 people. Proceeds from the event are set to create college funds for low-income families in the area. 

Tickets can be bought for the Oktoberfest Massachusetts celebration in Amherst now at www.oktoberfestma.com/tickets. The VIP tickets are already sold out, and the General Admission tickets are on their way to being sold out as well. The event will take place on Oktober, pardon me, October 14th 

There will be other Oktoberfest Massachusetts events in other cities in Massachusetts, including Boston, but the dates for those haven’t been posted yet.  

If you can’t wait till then to get your Oktoberfest celebrating done, have no fear, there will be an Oktoberfest celebration in Harvard Square this year as well! The event is set to start on Sunday October 8th and end on the 9th. It is the 39th celebration, and it’s set up to be the best yet, with international food, six beer gardens, sidewalk sales, live music, and, of course, the HONK! parade.  

Other Oktoberfest celebrations in Boston will be occurring throughout the month as well, with many of them only a short ride on the T away. 

If seafood and beer are two of your favorite things, the Harpoon Brewery is pairing up with Summer Shack for “…an amazing beer & seafood dinner – Oktoberfest style!” This will be taking place on October 4th from 6 to 9PM.  

And if Harvard has your competitive edge on the hunt for glory and world domination, you may find some at the Samuel Adams OctoberFest Stein Hoisting Competitions. There will be three in Boston: one at Pour House on October 5th, one at Warehouse Bar and Grille on the 7th, and one at Whiskey’s Pub on the 12th 

Always remember that many Oktoberfest celebrations have rules in place to keep everyone safe. For many of these events you must be 21 or older to attend. Some have severely limited or no parking in order to encourage attendees to use public transportation and minimize the risk of car accidents and the like, and as corny as it sounds, the best way to enjoy yourself at an Oktoberfest event is to enjoy it safely. 


Alaya Ayala (alaya_ayala@college.harvard.edu) wishes everyone (21 and older) a Happy Oktoberfest