Annual events in Kitchener-Waterloo ON
Almost everyone knows the famous Oktoberfest, the world-renowned annual beer festival which features a lot of chomping and unlimited Germanic extravaganza. The event has garnered a reputation for its convivial atmosphere, international celebrations, and of course the generously hospitable Dirndl-clad beer wenches.
The original Oktoberfest, hosted in the Bavarian city of Munich, was held in 1810. It has been an annual fixture on the Bavarian calendar since, not counting the 24 times it was canceled due to various catastrophes including diseases, war, or other emergencies. Rest assured, however, it has taken place without fail since the early 1960s.
The first event was held in honor of the wedding of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildurghausen, and to this day is still held on the same site. The dates have changed slightly though since 1810, and the festival name is actually now a slight misnomer. Festivities kick off in mid-September and extend into early October. Events go on for 16 to 18 days, so there’s plenty of time to sample the many different varieties of beer on offer. In order to be classified as an Oktoberfest Beer, the beverage must be brewed within Munich city borders, and there are currently six traditional Munich breweries offering beers at the festival.
Naturally, a festival dedicated to beer was never going to be contained in one country, and the idea has been adopted around the world. The biggest Oktoberfest outside of Germany takes place in Kitchener – Waterloo, in the Canadian state of Ontario. Operating since 1969, it has grown over the past 40 years, thanks to the Canadian German heritage of many of the town’s inhabitants, and therefore their dedication to the cause. The festival, which closes with a massive parade on Thanksgiving, now attracts over 1,000,000 visitors annually.
First-time visitors should take note, Oktoberfest beer is tougher than your ordinary German beer, and you have to be careful to avoid becoming a Beer Corpse or as the German natives call it, a ‘Bierleichen’. Take time to line the stomach with some Bavarian delicacies, including Knödel, Schweinebraten, and of course the despised Wurst.
Despite being a common festival in most Canadian cities, Kitchener’s Oktoberfest is by far the most thrilling of all Canada’s Bavarian Festivals. It is also the largest festival of its kind that takes place outside German soil. Though mostly loved for the beer driven celebrations that dominate the event, there are many unique family-friendly activities that are both fun and a little bit laid back. These events include the nationally famous Oktoberfest Thanksgiving parade which is aired live on Television for the whole country to see.
Other important local events that take place on a yearly basis include the famous June Birding Blitz, Canada Day Celebration which is held the first day of July, and pretty much any other festival held within the tri-state area which now incorporates over a dozen events that takes place within the cities of Cambridge and Waterloo.