Party Ideas

Oktoberfest Party Ideas for an Authentic Celebration

By Heather Roonan

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival. Celebrated from mid-September through the beginning of October each year, people gather to honor German culture with food, drink, and merriment. Bring the fun of Munich to you by hosting your own Oktoberfest party at home with these party planning ideas.

The Origins of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest, the world-renowned Bavarian festival, traces its origins back to a royal wedding celebration steeped in history. The inaugural Oktoberfest took place in 1810 in Munich, Germany, to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The festivities kicked off on October 12th and lasted for several days, culminating in a grand horse race that enthralled the crowds. The event was held in a large meadow just outside the city walls, which came to be known as Theresienwiese, in honor of the princess.

Due to the overwhelming success of the celebration, the Bavarian authorities decided to make it an annual event. Over the years, the focus of Oktoberfest shifted from horse racing to a broader array of entertainment, including agricultural exhibitions, live music, food stalls, and of course, beer tents. As the festival grew in popularity, its timeline was adjusted to take advantage of more favorable weather, moving the start date to late September. This change allowed attendees to enjoy the milder autumn climate while savoring traditional Bavarian beers and delicacies.

Oktoberfest Decor

Turn to tradition for inspiration when looking for Oktoberfest party ideas! Choose decor that honors the rich culture, emulates the original celebration, and leans into the beer theme.

Set up your biergarten

Create the perfect atmosphere for sharing a few pints with your own beer garden. You’ll want to have plenty of seating and a welcome sign to greet your guests. Use wooden barrels for authentic decor and beer steins or growlers filled with sunflowers and daisies as centerpieces.

Oktoberfest originated in Bavaria, so blue and white are the best colors for traditional Oktoberfest party decorations. Use the checkerboard pattern from the Bavarian flag for things like tablecloths, plates, napkins, and other accents.

Build a brew-tiful tent

If you were to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, you’d have the option of visiting different beer tents with their own unique design and vibe. Choose one you like and recreate it at your Oktoberfest party using streamers, garlands, and unique accents. If you’re hosting an outdoor party, you can rent your own tent to decorate or get creative with your indoor space.

Add some beer necessities

Sometimes the smallest details can make all the difference. Find some Oktoberfest party ideas that will add a little something extra to your celebration. Get cute and clever with pretzel napkin holders, add stickers to your beer bottles, and use fun printables to transform regular cups into themed beer steins.

Oktoberfest Menu

It wouldn’t be a true Oktoberfest party without a delicious spread of traditional German foods and overflowing steins of Oktoberfest beer.

Raise your stein

Beer is a staple of any Oktoberfest celebration. In Munich, the major breweries brew a special Märzen to be served at the festival. Luckily, many import similar brews to the U.S. for purchase. When shopping for your party, look for German beer with names like Paulener, Spaten, Hofbräu, Augustiner, and Hacker-Pschorr. 

Of course, straight beer isn’t for everyone. Go half and half with a fruit-flavored soda to create a delicious Radler. Wine and sparkling water — called Weinschorle — is another popular drink. And, for something non-alcoholic, mix up orange soda and Coke to create a Spezi.

👉 Pro tip: Hire a bartender to host a beer tasting or pour drinks throughout the party. 

Do your wurst

With beer flowing plentifully, your guests will need some hearty Oktoberfest foods to stay upright. Stay true to German roots with bratwurst for your main entree and sauerkraut or red cabbage as side dishes. Or, instead of a meal, do charcuterie boards filled with tons of traditional German snacks and Bavarian cheeses.

Serve im-pretz-ive snacks

Oktoberfest parties can often be all-day affairs, so it’s good to add a variety of snacks and desserts to your menu. Soft pretzels are the most common Oktoberfest treat, but candied almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln) are another light option. For dessert, serve some tasty apple strudel (Apfelstrudel).

Oktoberfest Entertainment

The original Oktoberfest was a wedding, so music and celebration are a must for the occasion. From bands to activities to contests, there are a ton of great Oktoberfest party ideas to choose from.

Tap into some music

Every great Oktoberfest party needs an awesome soundtrack. You can keep things simple with a DJ or go all out with live musicians. Hire a polka band or German group to get guests out on the dance floor. Or, have an accordion player stroll your beirgarten as everyone drinks and mingles.

Find musicians for your Oktoberfest party on GigSalad

Play hoppy games

What’s a gathering without a little healthy competition? Oktoberfest parties often include a variety of games and contests that get more challenging as the beer supply gets lower. Below are a few of the most popular Oktoberfest games, but feel free to come up with others or variations of these classics.

🍺 Masskrugstemmen (stein holding) – Participants hold a liter of beer up in front of them with one arm to see who can last the longest without spilling.

🔨 Hammerschlagen (hammer striking) – Each contestant gets one attempt to hammer a nail into a stump until the nail is completely embedded.

🥨 Eating contest – This one is just as it sounds! See who can eat a giant pretzel the fastest or who can eat the most brats within a time limit. Add a chugging contest for those beer enthusiasts.

👟 Relay races – There are a few different racing options. Run with full mugs of beer, carry multiple beers at once, or even roll kegs. You could even build a course that combines all three!

🎤 Yodeling contest – This is fun if your guest list includes some outgoing people that aren’t scared to take the stage. Put their vocal skills to the test and let the crowd choose who yodels the best.

Pose in your lederhosen

Encourage all of your party guests to dress in their most authentic Oktoberfest garb and participate in a costume contest! Traditional Bavarian outfits include dirndls for women and lederhosen for men, but we say mix and match to make a showstopping ensemble regardless of gender. Have everyone vote for their favorite costume and present a prize to the winner!

While a trip to Munich for d’Wiesn would be amazing, there’s no reason you can’t throw your own block party or backyard bash. With these Oktoberfest party ideas, your celebration will be filled with authentic decor, tasty refreshments, and fun activities. Prost! 🍻

Book something awesome for your Oktoberfest party! Find musicians, bartenders, and more on GigSalad.

  1. Wendy Woodman May 14, 2016

    Okeechobee KOA is a resort campground in central Florida. We are planning an Oktoberfest weekend and are looking for entertainment suitable for all ages. Our weekend will start with a Friday night welcome party with food, beer and entertainment. Saturday will have more food, entertainment and outdoor games and contests. Sunday will wrap up the weekend with a breakfast and raffel winners. We are interested in polka bands, cloggers, roving acts or anything you might have as a suggestion.

  2. mark saniez October 31, 2016

    This summer, we were visiting Munich in Bavaria, and amongst things my wife and I were surprised that so many people were wearing lederhosen with the suspenders. They all looked great! There were even some beer cellars and pubs where the women wore Lederhosen too. It was very nice! So after seeing that me and my wife bought ourselves each a lederhosen complete with the suspenders. Mine was a green leather one with the matching suspenders and my wife’s was shiny and black. There were a lot of women wearing the Dirndl too. It’s great that the traditional clothes are still worn in Germany and Austria. And there are so many shops and kiosks selling them in southern Germany, even at the Munich’s main railway station. The prices were reasonable for real thick leather—45 euros! We found that lederhosen and dirndls are sold on Amazon, Ebay, Price minister etc at the same price, so there you go!


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