Pop-up tattoo shops, dachshund races, and lots of beer: Your guide to Oktoberfest in Minnesota

New Ulm's Oktoberfest: nationally known, and worth a visit

New Ulm's Oktoberfest: nationally known, and worth a visit New Ulm CVB

Dust off your steins and pull out your dirndls: Oktoberfest season is upon us.

The beer-focused festival dates to 1810, when the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese—and it was so much fun that they’ve been partying ever since. But you don’t need to spring for a trip to Germany to celebrate in style: From polka music to dachshund races, brats to a pop-up tattoo shop, here’s your guide to Twin Cities Oktoberfest festivities. Prost!

Bars & Restaurants

Gluek’s Restaurant & Bar, September 20
The Oktoberfest kickoff party at Gluek’s starts with a keg tapping by MJ Johnson, billed as the “Current World Beard and Moustache Champion." There’s also a free German-inspired happy hour buffet, strolling accordionists, prizes, and $4 Oktoberfest pints.

Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter, September 21-23
The festivities and woodsy atmosphere at Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter make it worth the trek to Stillwater for music, dancing, beer, brats, giant pretzels, roasted almonds, and hammerschlagen. Friday and Saturday are 21-plus with a $5 cover. Sunday is family day, with $3 admission, free face painting, and balloon twister.

Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, Fridays and Saturdays, September 21-October 13
A longstanding Northeast tradition, Oktoberfest at Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit features beer, dancing, live polka music, and German eats like brats, sauerkraut, pretzels,and apfelstrudel. Bring your own mug and fill up for $6 per half-liter of beer, or purchase one on-site.

Black Forest Inn, September 28-October 7
Celebrate "10 Days of Oktoberfest" on Eat Street with live music and a special menu at Black Forest Inn. Each evening has a different theme, like “Tie the Knot Night” on September 29 (yes, you can actually get married if you’ve got a valid license), “Wurst Night” with a brat buffet on October 1, and bargain-priced beer on the final “Drain the Keg Night."


612Brew, September 22
The party at 612Brew includes live music, a contest for the best-dressed Mr. and Ms. Oktoberfest, and, obviously, Oktoberfest Märzen Festbier. Food will be available from BLVD Kitchen & Bar, and you can get inked at a pop-up tattoo shop by Tiger Rose Tattoo.

Bauhaus Brew Labs, September 29
Bauhaus Brew Labs’ fifth annual Schwandtoberfest celebrates the brewery’s seasonal Bavarian Festbier with games and live music. Food options include brats from Gerhard’s, pretzels from New Bohemia, and vegan fare from the Herbivorous Butcher. Tickets are $34, which includes a stein and three fills. $10 cover charge-only tickets are available for designated drivers, and children are free.

Utepils Brewing, September 22-30
In a nod to historical context, Oktoberfest festivities at Utepils will launch with a nondenominational vow renewal ceremony. There will also be a beer tent with live music, games, contests, food trucks, and liter steins of Receptional, a limited edition Festbier.

Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery, September 28-30
Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery's celebration includes newly released Oktoberfest beers, live music, a beer garden, and games. Admission is $5 for 21-plus attendees, with a discounted $2 admission for ages 5-20. Sunday is family day, with free admission for ages 5-20 and an appearance by the Bavarian Dance Group.

Excelsior Brewing, October 5-7
Celebrate alongside Lake Minnetonka with Excelsior Brewing’s “Docktoberfest.” There’s an impressive menu of traditional German-style beers: the obvious Docktoberfest Marzen Lager, as well as Bittesclappe Munich-style brown ale, Portside Pilsner, Saucy Kate Kolsch, and Helios Hefeweizen. Keep the party going with live music and locally-made German food.

Lupulin Brewing, October 13
Head up to Big Lake for food trucks, live music, and the release of Lupulin’s Oktoberfest Märzen—purchase a half-liter stein for $20 and get two beer tokens, or spring for one of the limited edition $30 Das Boot mugs (first fill included with purchase).


Mill City Oktoberfest, September 29
Celebrate Minnesota’s brewing history at the Mill City Museum and Mill City Farmers Market, with music, dancing, a cooking demonstration, a beer garden, and kids’ games. The event is free, but museum admission is required for activities inside the Mill City Museum.

Twin Cities Oktoberfest, October 5-6
Held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Twin Cities Oktoberfest features Summit Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest beer, plus other Summit beers, wines, and ciders. There’s also traditional German food, live music, and shopping. A $30 ticket includes admission, a stein, and one beer.

...And one worth the drive:

New Ulm Oktoberfest, October 5-6 and 12-13
Considered one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States, the celebration in New Ulm includes events at the Best Western Plus, Schell’s Brewery, Morgan Creek Vineyards, and throughout the picturesque historic downtown. Parades, music, food, and lots of dirndls and lederhosen—this might be the closest you can get to real thing without a plane ticket.