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Oktoberfest overseas

Sarah Stolarz, Clare Atkinson / ps
September 22, 2012

The home of the Oktoberfest may be in Germany, but you don't need to go to Munich to experience the famous Bavarian beer festival. Instead, you can head to London, Ohio, Sydney, Brazil - or even Palestine.

A waitress carries beer mugs in the Hofbraeuhaus-tent in Munich
Image: dapd

Lederhosen and dirndl-clad waitresses are not regularly sighted in the US. But according to data from the US Census Bureau, as of 2010, almost 50 million people described themselves as being of German descent.

So then, it is no surprise that the second-largest reported Oktoberfest outside Munich, with over half a million visitors, takes place in the American city with the biggest German population: Cincinnati, Ohio. There, Fifth Street becomes the stage for "Oktoberfest Zinzinnati," a quintessential German celebration that remains Midwestern through and through. 

Visitors to Oktoberfest in Central Park in New York
New Yorkers party Bavarian-styleImage: picture alliance/dpa

And all across the US, hundreds of Oktoberfest celebrations, both large and small, testify to the significant contribution made by German migrants over several hundred years.

Across the Channel

Even in the Old World, accordions swinging to oompah music are as unusual in Britain as they would be in the US. And you would be right, but at London's Bavarian Beerhouse that is exactly what you will find.

This enormous subterranean beer hall in central London is open to customers all year round, but puts on special celebrations to coincide with Oktoberfest. Unlike the German original that lasts just over a fortnight, this London fest - going strong since 2004 - is on for a full eight weeks.

"We started with just two weeks," said manager Jessie Kalkun, "but it was so popular that we just kept adding on more weeks; people just seem to love it."

Two men in Lederhosen at the Lowenbreau Keller in Sydney
Bavarian Lederhosen on show at the Lowenbreau Keller in SydneyImage: Bavarian Hospitality Group

The Oktoberfest bandwagon

Down in the other hemisphere, Australians are already known to enjoy drinking - and not in small quantities. So it's no wonder they have also embraced the greatest celebration of beer: Oktoberfest.

In Australia's two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, a number of Oktoberfest celebrations are held. They take place at German breweries, German restaurants, university campuses, and pretty much anywhere people are looking for an excuse to imbibe and be merry.

South America, like Australia, is a long way from Munich. But Blumenau, Brazil, founded by German settlers, plays host to the largest Oktoberfest in South America and one of the largest in the world. More than 500,000 people have reportedly been attending each year. 

Finally, a small village in Palestine's West Bank might seem an unlikely location for a festival celebrating beer. But that is exactly what has happened in the Christian village of Taybeh. In its eighth year, the only Oktoberfest in the Middle East celebrates Arabic food, music and their locally produced beer, also called Taybeh, which means "tasty" in Arabic. The festival is scheduled this year on October 6 and 7.

Palestinians enjoy the Palestinian beer of Taybeh during the Taybeh Oktoberfest beer festival in the West Bank Christian village of Taybeh
Palestinians enjoy locally produced Taybeh beer in their own version of OktoberfestImage: picture alliance/dpa

Oktoberfest celebrations have flourished in many countries, partly as a result of large-scale German migration over hundreds of years to all corners of the globe. But it can also be attributed to a widespread appreciation for Germany's national beverage: great-tasting beer.

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