October 5 to 13, 2018
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of North America’s largest Bavarian festival, held annually in Waterloo Region. Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest celebrates its golden anniversary this year, and organizers are set to tap the keg on a celebration that promises to be Wunderbar!
According to Oktoberfest President Margo Jones, this year’s festival is one you won’t want to miss. “If you’ve never experienced Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest before, the 50th anniversary is the perfect time to see why over 700,000 festers join us every year. And, if you have taken in the festival before, we’ve made some of the events that are traditional favourites bigger and better, and we’ve added new events to celebrate our milestone!”
Opening Ceremonies 2018 – Sylvia Pond Photography
Some of what’s new for this year’s festival includes the brand new festhalle known as Oktoberfesthaus that will accommodate up to 4,500 festival-goers. There’s also the 50th anniversary Porsche Boxster Dream Car Lottery that will see someone drive home a brand new 2018 Porsche Boxster black on black cabriolet from Pfaff , Porsche of London and Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.
Now that the keg is tapped and the celebrations are underway, here are 5 Reasons to add this year’s Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest to your calendar!
OKTOBERFEST EVENTS: WEEK TWO
THE PARTY CONTINUES AT THE FESTHALLEN
Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest features 11 accredited festhallen, all with their own unique atmospheres and featured foods. Whether you choose to head to Concordia Club (the largest ethnic German Club in Canada, and the home of the very first Oktoberfest celebration), or any of the other festhallen for a night out (Alpine Club, Altes Muenchen Haus, Chicopee Haus, Hubertushaus, Koenigstrasse Garten, Oberkrainer Haus, Schwaben Club, Transylvania Haus, and Oktoberfesthaus), you’re sure to experience the feeling of Gemütlichkeit (German for friendliness and good cheer)! There are also 2 official festhallen located down the 401 in London. For tickets and information, check out the website.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN TANZ?
There’s more to German dancing than the polka and the Chicken Dance! So You Think You Can Tanz was created in 2008 to showcase local German dance groups in a friendly competition. Spectators can cheer on their favourite dance groups, see who the Champion dancers will be, and then can strut their own stuff on the dance floor to the music of Wildbahn.
So You Think You Can Tanz takes place at the Alpine Club Tuesday, October 9, 2018 beginning at 6 p.m.. You need tickets to be part of this event.
So You Think You Can Tanz
BABY YOU CAN SEE MY CAR
The 21st Annual Oktoberfest Car Show will make a return in 2018 with even more amazing cars, great food, live entertainment and much more.
The Car Show will be held at the Inn of Waterloo on Saturday, October 13, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Do you have a vintage car that you’d like to bring to the show? You can download the Registration Form and either email it to Karima Kassan at firstname.lastname@example.org or bring it with you the day of the car show!
Oktoberfest Car Show
ROLL OUT THE BARREL – LITERALLY!
UpTown Waterloo is celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Great Oktoberfest Barrel Race! Teams of 4 (there are mens, ladies and co-ed divisions) register to participate in this relay style race – and yes, they will be rolling actual keg-style barrels along the course! Winners take home a prize bag full of sponsored goodies, and will be awarded with the 40th Anniversary Golden Pumpkin!
New this year is a pumpkin carving competition and exhibit, as well as kid-friendly wheelbarrow races for goodie bags. This is a FREE EVENT for spectators & Wheelbarrow Races!
Following the races, stay for Sausage Fest, Waterloo’s Wurst Festival!
A portion of the proceeds from the Great Oktoberfest Barrel Race will go to Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region.
Great Oktoberfest Barrel Race
THE ONKEL HANS FOOD DRIVE
For more than 20 years, Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest has teamed up with the Food Bank of Waterloo Region to help collect cash and non-perishable food donations as part of the food bank’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Known as the Onkel Hans Food Drive, it has collected in excess of 1.3M pounds of food to give those in need in our community a helping hand. The Onkel Hans Food Drive was honoured in 2014 with the 2014 Achievement Award for Best Fundraising Idea from Festivals and Events Ontario.
For the 50th anniversary, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is trying to raise 50,000 MEALS for the Food Bank! Online monetary donations for the Onkel Hans Food Drive are accepted until the end of the festival on Saturday, October 13, 2018.
Phil the Food Drive Bag and Onkel Hans
OKTOBERFEST EVENTS: WEEK ONE
DALLAS SMITH AND COLD CREEK COUNTY GET THE PARTY STARTED!
The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest party begins early this year with a special 50th anniversary concert on Saturday, September 22nd featuring Canadian country superstars Dallas Smith and Cold Creek County. Get ready for a night that will be a little bit Country, and a little bit Rock and Roll-Out-The-Barrel!
Platinum-selling country music star, Dallas Smith and Cold Creek County will perform on stage at the Concordia Club – the iconic festhalle where Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest got its humble start 50 years ago. Included before the concert is a true festhalle experience that includes traditional German culture, German dance groups, cultural entertainers, and German foods and beverages. Tickets are on sale now, with special Early Bird pricing until September 14th.
JOIN THE OPENING CEREMONIES AND KEG TAPPING
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapping the keg
The keg-tapping on Friday, October 5th marks the official opening of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest! Thousands of people head to the outdoor square at Kitchener City Hall to take in the free opening ceremony festivities (and to show off their favourite pair of lederhosen or dirndl!)
Special guests and dignitaries will be on hand, including Canada’s King of Polka, Walter Ostanek, who will lead a chorus of 50 accordion players as the keg is tapped to open the 50th anniversary in style! After the keg tapping, head over to the official Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest retail store to stock up on everything from Oktoberfest souvenirs, hats and feathers, to steins and festhalle tickets.
Canada’s Polka King, Walter Ostanek
THE ANNUAL THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
Photo Credit: John Van Tran Photography
There’s a reason this nationally-televised Thanksgiving Day Parade annually attracts over 150,000 spectators to its 5 km parade route: with its colourful floats, dancers, clowns, and award winning marching bands from Canada and the United States, it’s no wonder taking in the parade has become a Thanksgiving tradition for many families.
This year’s parade will be ever bigger and better for the 50th anniversary celebrations! There will be new floats, and a number of new marching bands, including one called the OktoberCorps. This band, formed specifically for Oktoberfest’s 50th anniversary parade, consists of 300 past and present drum and bugle corps members who promise to wow the crowds with their marching precision and massive sound!
You need to be up early to catch this parade; it begins at 8:45 a.m. on October 8th, but regular attendees will have their favourite vantage points staked out long before then! For the best view, there are a limited number of reserved parade-side bleacher seats available for purchase. You can check out the parade route here.
Burlington Teen Tour Band
THIS WILL GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING
Motorcyclists from across Ontario are invited to be part of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest’s first-ever Ride, Dine N’ Stein event on October 6th. It’s an afternoon of entertainment, good food and cheer, as motorcycles line the streets of UpTown Waterloo.
In the evening, participants will enjoy a VIP experience that includes admission to Oktoberfest’s newest festhalle, Oktoberfesthaus! While you’re there, enjoy an authentic German dinner, beer and entertainment. Transportation will also be included back to your hotel if you’re staying overnight in the region.
WILLKOMMEN PLATZ IS THE PLACE TO BE
In German, the word ‘gemütlichkeit’ loosely translated means a feeling of friendliness and fun. And during Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest there’s no better place to find the spirit of gemütlichkeit than at Willkommen Platz in downtown Kitchener! This Oktoberfest hub is located just outside of Kitchener City Hall, and will be buzzing with excitement for the entire family every day of the opening weekend of the festival, with entertainment, displays and activities.
Opening Day crowds at Willkommen Platz
And this year, Rogers Hometown Hockey joins Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest in Willkommen Platz from October 5th to 7th. This free family-friendly hockey celebration features three days of live entertainment, NHL alumni, local celebrities and hockey-themed activities for all ages, culminating with a live NHL broadcast featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks. Ziggy Zaggy Ziggy Zaggy HOCKEY HOCKEY HOCKEY!!!
DYK: Hometown Hockey host Ron MacLean was actually born in Germany?
Photo Credit: Sylvia Pond Photography
The plans for an amazing 50th anniversary celebration are in place; now all that’s missing is You! For a complete list of events and for tickets, head to Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.