Ready to polka your way into fall? Celebrate the traditional autumn festival with oompah bands, games, crafts and authentic eats. Whether you’re looking for a traditional German celebration or just a way to enjoy one more fest before the cold weather hits, read on to find the scoop on the area’s best Oktoberfests.
photo: Hofbräuhaus Chicago
Hofbräuhaus Chicago Oktoberfest
The sister location to the legendary original in Munich is surprisingly family friendly on weekend afternoons. And through October 23, it makes kinder feel even more special during its annual Oktoberfest event. In a grand dining hall packed with communal tables, you can get excited about a rotating array of European musicians that play oompah music on stage (brace yourself for the chicken dance). There are also kids’ parades and games, and you might even see an aplhorn, a long horn used by Swiss mountain dwellers. Come hungry: The kids’ menu features hot dogs, noodles and chicken tenders, but if they’re up for authentic German fare, order the wurstplatte (a plate stacked with Vienna-style frankfurters, pork and chicken sausages) or sauerbraten (Bavarian-style pot roast). Don’t leave without trying a freshly baked pretzel imported from Munich!
Sept. 16 -Oct. 23
5500 Park Place
MB Financial Park
Hop on the Metra and head to Berwyn for this fest that takes place in the Berwyn Depot District at the Metra stop. The Family Pavilion entertains kids (and adults) with live music, dancing, storytelling, face painting and games. The Berwyn Fire Department will be there to teach kids what to do if there is a fire and we love the dedicated toddler play area staffed by the Berwyn Park District.
Sept. 16, 6 p.m.-11 p.m. & Sept. 17, noon-11 p.m.
Windsor Ave., between Oak Park & Home Avenues
German American Festival
For a true German experience, it doesn’t get better than the German American Festival (it’s produced by the German-American Societies of Chicago so you know it’s authentic!) in Lincoln Square. Experience German music and traditional dance and don’t miss the parade on Saturday afternoon. Kids can try their hand at a number of different games and if you have kids who don’t love German food, Lincoln Square is home to a plethora of kid-approved restaurants. Tip – the brown line drops you off right at this event so leave the car at home.
Sept. 9, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sept. 10, noon–11 p.m. (parade at 2 p.m.); Sept. 11, noon-10 p.m.
Western & Leland
photo: Oktoberfest Chicago at St. Alphonsus
Oktoberfest at St. Alphonsus
A Chicago favorite, we love this fest for its dedicated Kinderfest where kids can learn how to polka, listen to German folktales, bounce in the bouncy house and even master an obstacle course. With plenty of German food and music, we understand why USA Today named this one of the best fests in the country. After the family fun, head back after hours for 80’s and 90’s cover bands like 16 Candles and Trippin’ Billies.
Sept. 23, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sept. 24, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sept. 25, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Kinderfest, Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
St. Alphonsus Church
1429 W. Wellington St.
Naper Settlement Oktoberfest
Hop under a heated tent at the Naper Settlement for classic German music and dancing (and live rock music in the later hours). Naper Settlement is a living history museum dedicated to the pioneer era and their event celebrates all things autumn including fall-inspired food and crafts. The children’s activities include hoola hoops, bag toss, tours of the buildings and the Harvard Playscape area, which has a Conestoga wagon for climbing, sensory prairie garden and playground.
Sept. 30, 5 p.m.-10 p.m. & Oct. 1, noon-10 p.m.; family activities noon-5 p.m
Cost: Advance tickets available online for $12/adults; $8/youth ages 4-12. Admission at the gate is $15/adults; $10/youth ages 4-12; free for ages 4 & under
523 S. Webster St.
photo: Oak Park Oaktoberfest
Oak Park Oaktoberfest
Oak Park puts its own spin on Oktoberfest starting with the name and continuing with a cool Kids’ Root Beer Garden. Besides the root beer floats that never stop flowing, littles can meet animals from a traveling zoo, make and race zucchini cars (yes, cars made out of veggies) and work their way through a ninja obstacle course. With it being Oaktoberfest, look for food from area restaurants and craft beer.
Sept. 18, 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m. & Sept. 19, noon-10 p.m. (Root Beer Garden is open on Sat., noon–5 p.m.)
Marion St. & North Blvd.
A neighborhood favorite, the Itasca Oktoberfest gathers friends and neighbors to raise a glass and tap a toe as bands play into the night. The Itasca Park District and Itasca Library share management of the Kids Korner where fest-goers can create one-of-a-kind mementos from the event. Fill up on a German pig roast with traditional side dishes like spaetzle and sauerkraut followed by German sweets from a local bakeshop.
Sept. 9, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. & Sept. 10, 3 p.m.-11 p.m. (Kids Korner is open Sat., 3:30 – 6:30 p.m.)
Orchard St. at Walnut St.
Glenview Haus Oktoberfest
The North Shore breaks out its lederhosen at this celebration complete with Bavarian food, beer and German tunes performed by Die Musikmeisters. Come dressed up in traditional german garb for a chance to win prizes. Under the giant tent, you’ll find face painting, crafts, and a giant bounce house for the kids.
Sept. 17, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; family activities, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
1843 Glenview Rd.
Lynfred Winery Oktoberfest
Stomp grapes, sing and let the spirit move you at this west suburban winery and inn, which throws this bash in celebration of the grape harvest. Young and old are invited to join in on the grape stomping and grape spitting contests. There’s also a German sing-a-long, cork tossing contest and lederhosen costume contest. Dig into pork sandwiches from a pig roast and heap on a side of German potato salad. Don’t leave without buying a caramel apple, strudel or a slice of delicious German chocolate cake.
Oct. 1, 3 p.m.-9 p.m. & Oct. 2, noon-7 p.m.
Cost: $3/person; free for ages 13 & under
15 S. Roselle Rd.
Villa Park Oktoberfest
A little less authentic than some of the other festivals, Villa Park’s Oktoberfest celebrates the end of summer more than a trip to Bavaria. At this fest, families can enjoy carnival games and rides, check out Bubba the Alligator and other “Cold Blooded Creatures”, and listen to live Mariachi music. Parents can even get in on the fun with an adult bags tournament.
Sept. 19, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sept. 10, noon-11 p.m.; Sept. 11, noon-5 p.m.
320 East Wildwood Ave.
The formerly dry town of Evanston rolls out the barrel for their craft beer festival (the town is now home to four craft breweries and a distillery). Beer lovers can sample brews from each of the town’s breweries and everyone can fill up on food from some of Evanston’s favorite restaurants. Local favorite play space, Gather, will create an interactive kid zone with art activities and games. Look for giant games of Scrabble and Jenga, too.
Oct. 16, 1 p.m.–6 p.m. (kids activities from 2 p.m.–5 p.m.)
Cost: $10 free for kids 12 and under
University Place & Oak Avenue (behind the Hilton Garden Inn hotel)
St. Benedict’s Oktoberfest
Chicago’s North Center neighborhood celebrates is German roots at the St. Benedict’s Oktoberfest. German music and dancers take the stage and kids can get their thrills with carnival rides and games. Food from Himmel’s makes for a great way to introduce German favorites to your kids. This is the 51st annual event so you know everyone loves it!
Sept. 30, 3 p.m.-10 p.m.; Oct. 1, 1 p.m.-10 p.m.; Oct. 2, 1 p.m.-9 p.m.
2215 W. Irving Park Rd.
Where will you celebrate Oktoberfest? Let us know in the Comments!
— Jen Peterson