Are you looking for an Oktoberfest celebration that is both lively and kid-friendly? How about one that is held in a traditional Bavarian village? The Leavenworth Oktoberfest festival, held annually during the first three weekends of October, is ranked as one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the country! From biergartens to brats to bouncy toys, Leavenworth Oktoberfest has a little something for everyone. And with more than 10,000 visitors coming back each year, this annual celebration is more than just a beer and brat festival. It’s a family tradition! So throw on your best German attire (dirndls and lederhosen are encouraged!) and take the fam to Leavenworth Oktoberfest for some authentic German culture.

Oktoberfest 2

Festival dates and hours:
October 3-4, 10-11 & 17-18, 2014

Fridays: 6 p.m.–1 a.m.
Saturdays: 12 p.m.–1 a.m.

Minors are allowed in the Oktoberfest compound until 9:00 pm.

Cost: Tickets can be purchased online (for a discount) or at the gate. Adult tickets are $10 on Fridays, $15 on Saturdays, and $20 at the gate. Active military and kiddos under 12 are free.

Get there: Leavenworth is nestled in a valley on the eastern slopes of the central Cascade Mountains at the juncture of the Wenatchee River and Icicle Creek. Driving from Seattle, you have two choices – Interstate 90 or Highway 2. From I-90, take exit 85/Wenatchee to State Route 970 and head east for approximately 20 miles to the junction with U.S. Route 97. Take Highway 97 north over Blewett Pass for 35 miles to the junction of Highway 2. Turn left and travel four miles west on Highway 2 to Leavenworth. If your travel plans take you over Highway 2, take Highway 522 east to Monroe where it intersects with U.S. Route 2 (the Stevens Pass Highway) and travel east for 85 miles to Leavenworth.

A number of bus lines and tour companies offer special event trips to Leavenworth and Amtrak offers daily passenger service from the King Street Station in Seattle.

Travel time: Leavenworth is located approximately two and half hours east of Seattle.

What to wear: Since Leavenworth is located on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains, the weather is much drier than Seattle. However, the temps can plunge rapidly. It’s a good idea to dress the kiddos in layers and bring along a warm coat.

Where to stay: If you decide to turn this family day trip into a weekend adventure, call the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce for hotel, RV, and camping information at 509-548-5807 or online at leavenworth.org.

What to do: The Leavenworth Oktoberfest compound is located on Front Street (a few blocks from the city core) and is divided into four venues – Festhalle, Bier Stube, Tanz Halle, and Spass Spatz. The majority of the activities are centered near the Festhalle, however you’ll want to explore the entire festival!

Live entertainment is a HUGE part of this Oktoberfest celebration! From your favorite oom-pah music to versions of the Chicken Dance, you’ll find something fun for every age on every stage. The German bands (from the U.S., Canada, and Germany!) and the Bavarian dance groups perform non-stop from 6:00 pm to midnight on Fridays and 12:00 pm to midnight on Saturdays. Check the online schedule for the complete performance lineup. And remember, all festival-goers under the age of 21 are allowed inside the Oktoberfest compound until 9:00 pm.

On Saturdays, you’ll want to grab a curbside seat along Front Street and watch the Leavenworth Oktoberfest parade. This family-friendly parade features traditional Bavarian marches and polkas, village people, flags from around the world, horse drawn wagons, city officials, and much more. The parade starts at 12:00 pm and is followed by the Keg Tapping Opening Ceremony at 1:00 pm.

If your pint-sized Oktoberfester needs to burn off some energy, take them to the Kinderplatz area of the festival (located in the main park downtown) for lots of fun activities. Kinderplatz features a climbing wall, bouncy toys, live music performances, magicians, and L-Bow the Clown. If you’re little one is looking for a cool memento to take home, stroll through the vendor area (inside the compound) and shop for arts and crafts, Oktoberfest souvenirs, and lots of German items.

What to eat: Inside the Oktoberfest compound, you’ll find German grub aplenty! From German brats on a bun, barbecue ribs, and pulled pork sandwiches to pretzels, schnitzel, and strudel. You’ll also find Thomas Kemper root beer for the kiddos and lots (and lots!) of German brew for Mom and Dad. Food, beverage, and souvenir tickets can be purchased upon entering the compound. Beverages cost $4 to $5 and meals cost $5 to $8.

Bonus: If you plan to visit Leavenworth Oktoberfest during the first weekend of October, be sure to check out the Annual Salmon Festival at the Leavenworth fish hatchery. This free family event, celebrating the return of wild salmon to the Wenatchee River, offers lots of hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, wildlife edu-tainment, music, art, and much more!

Online: salmonfest.org

Online: Visit the Leavenworth Oktoberfest website for more information about this great family-friendly celebration.

Online: leavenworthoktoberfest.com

–Kristina Moy