LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — Willkommen! Fall celebrations are upon us and the Bavarian traditions of Oktober Fest are stand-out activities here in Washington State. Many communities in the region celebrate the fall festivities, with plenty of enthusiasm and vigor! One of my favorite locations is the Leavenworth Oktoberfest, in the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, Washington.
Leavenworth draws tourists to its many year around activities, but there is something very special about the Oktoberfest that celebrates the very traditions that Leavenworth keeps alive all year. Families come from points all over North America to celebrate the Leavenworth Oktoberfest, which is held annually the first three weekends of October. Started in 1998 with about 400 in attendance for one weekend, it has grown to a three-weekend event with 10,000 attendees.
Leavenworth Oktoberfest Activities
The opening ceremony is conducted each of the three Saturdays. Their website best describes this festive activity starting at noon: “The Muenchner Kindl leads the Bavarian procession with the village people carrying our Countries flags. Leavenworth’s own Musikkapelle rides in a blue and white colorful band wagon, playing those old familiar and traditional Bavarian marches and polkas. Other villagers and visiting guests will be in colorful traditional Bavarian dirndls and lederhosen. Following the band is the Edelweiss Tanz Gruppe and the Bavarian style Bier Wagon, beautifully decorated with red and white carnations. There will also be other horse drawn wagons and a carriage carrying Leavenworth’s mayor and city officials. The procession starts every Saturday at noon on Ski Hill Drive on Hwy 2 and goes down Front Street to the Festhalle, where the fun begins!”
Entertainment continues all weekend, with bands from throughout the U.S., Canada and Germany. Food options range from Bratwurst on a bun to German-style cake, and of course beer for the adults and root beer for the kids. There are vendor booths with crafts, souvenirs, and German items – including great local food favorites and traditional German sausages. Watch the dance performances by the Edelweiss Tanz Gruppe. Let the kids enjoy Kinderplatz, with a climbing wall, bouncy toys, Elbow the Clown and magicians – all just for them.
Traveling to the Leavenworth Oktoberfest is half the fun. Located just on the eastern edge of Wenatchee National Forest, on Hwy US-2, it takes a little over two hours from starting points in the Greater Seattle/Puget Sound region. It’s well worth the trip; enjoy the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range scenery along the way. There are two route choices from Western Washington: the I-90 and US-97drive that goes over Snoqualmie Pass or the US-2 route that takes you over Stevens Pass. Travelers in Eastern Washington can take either the US-97 Hwy from Ellensburg, or from Wenatchee drive the US-2/US 97 route.
The Origin of Oktoberfest
The original Oktoberfest began in Munich, Germany in 1810, as a celebration of Prince Ludwig l married to Princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen. It all began as a wedding feast on the outskirts of Munich where the guests ate, drank and celebrated. They enjoyed the party so much that it became an annual tradition. Now more than 10 million people travel to Munich each year per year to celebrate Oktoberfest.
Find Oktoberfest Traditions in Leavenworth. There’s no need to travel all the way to Germany. Enjoy Oktoberfest right here in Leavenworth, Washington, with authentic Bavarian entertainment and traditions: fun for the entire family.
Leavenworth Oktoberfest: Website
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany: Website (English Version)