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
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 52nd, annual event so you know everyone loves it!
Sep. 29, 3 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sep. 30, 1 p.m.-10 p.m.; Oct. 1, 1 p.m.-8 p.m.
2215 W. Irving Park Rd.
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 Dave Matthews cover bands like 16 Candles and Trippin’ Billies.
Sep. 29, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sep. 30, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Oct. 1, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; Kinderfest, Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
St. Alphonsus Church
1429 W. Wellington St.
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.
Sep. 30, 3 p.m.-9 p.m. & Oct. 1, noon-7 p.m.
Cost: $10/person; free for ages 13 & under
15 S. Roselle Rd.
Naper Settlement Oktoberfest
Hop under a heated tent at the Naper Settlement for classic German music and dancing. 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.
Oct. 6, 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Oct. 7, noon-10 p.m.; Oct. 8, noon-5 p.m.; family activities Sat., noon-3 p.m
Cost: $15/adults; $10/ages 4-12
523 S. Webster St.
The formerly dry town of Evanston rolls out the barrel for their craft beer festival (the town is now home to 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. 15, 1 p.m.–6 p.m. (kids activities from 2 p.m.–5 p.m.)
Cost: $10; free for kids 12 & under
University Place & Oak Avenue (behind the Hilton Garden Inn hotel)
Where will you celebrate Oktoberfest? Let us know in the Comments!
— Maria Chambers & Jen Peterson