Geek out, drink up and flex those Chicken Dancing muscles—it’s time for Oktoberfest on the SF Peninsula.

Ein, zwei, trinken, baby. First up is the Redwood City Oktoberfest, Sept. 21–24. Photo by Joel Wade Photography.

News flash: Oktoberfest is not always in October! In fact, the big Oktoberfest in Munich started last weekend, and Peninsula revelers are following suit. Don’t be caught unawares. It’s bad luck to go all fall without at least one day devoted to lager, bratwurst, sauerkraut and the polka.

Redwood City Oktoberfest

When: Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 21–24 (Thu 5–9pm; Fri 5–10pm; Sat noon-4pm and 5–9pm; Sun 11am-3pm and 4–8pm)

Where: Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City

Tickets: Adults $18–22, kids and designated drivers $10–15. Admission includes a stein and a drink ticket. Extra food and drink tickets sold separately.

Top reason to go: Yodeling! The AlpinersUSA, playing Friday-Sunday, have a certified yodeling expert on staff, and she’s not afraid to let it rip.

Stretching on for four days and including six seatings (Saturday and Sunday each have two seatings), the Redwood City Oktoberfest might be die Mutter of all fall celebrations on the Peninsula. It’s set up for big fun with 1100 feet of family-style benches under the big tent, just like at the Wies’n (the Wies’n being to Munich’s Oktoberfest what the Playa is to Burning Man).

Jah, liebling! Spin me like a toy top! Photo by Joel Wade Photography.

Unlike most festivals these days, there’s no kid zone, but there is plenty of fun for the grownups with singing and dancing competitions, music and lots of delicious German food and beer. The Internationals play polkas, waltzes and “music from everywhere” on Thursday night, billed as a Happy Hour because there are no dance competitions. And on Friday through Sunday it’s rockin’ Bavarian fun with the AlpinersUSA and the Golden Gate Bavarian Club, which performs Bavarian and Tyrolean dances (in full lederhosen and dirndls, obviously).

If this video doesn’t get you worked up, well, you may need to check your pulse.


When: Thursday, Sept. 28, 7–10:30pm

Where: The Tech Museum, 201 S. Market, San Jose

Tickets: $25 advance

Best reason to go: The only Oktoberfest celebration combining science and beer

Why? Because geeks love presentations, that’s why. Tech Museum photo.

The Tech Museum of Innovation’s 3rd annual Oktoberfest brings together 15 NorCal breweries, one lonely winery and a great many geeks under the same roof with BioCurious, the “world’s first hackerspace for bio.” There will be beer to taste, beer to study, beer to be explained in a PowerPoint presentation and spatzle, sausage and pretzels.

Mountain View Oktoberfest

When: Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 11am-7pm both days

Where: Bryant at Dana in Mountain View, a.k.a. the parking lot behind Stein’s Beer Garden.

Tickets: Entrance is free, but you’ll need a stein ($11–25) to drink; beer tickets are $9 each.

Reasons to go: The Chicken Dance, beer belly contests

Beer in every color of the rainbow! photo.

Stein’s Beer Garden knows its German festivals. This one, held in collaboration with the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, is a great big two-day funfest under a 7,000-square-foot Oktoberfest tent with music by Big Lou’s Accordion Princess, AlpinersUSA and the SF German Band. Food is by the fabulous Teske’s Germania. While the kiddies tear up the bounce houses and compete in pretzel-eating contests, the adults may enjoy fermented beverages by Weihenstephan, Stiegl, Weltenburger Kloster and more. (We just had our first Stiegl Grapefruit Radler and can’t believe how sweet and delicious and, yes, grapefruity it was.)

You think just anyone can hold a stein? These people have been practicing! photo.

Now, the competitions. Contests of stein-holding and pretzel-eating are held on the regular, and a daily Beer Belly Contest rewards dedicated beer drinkers with an all-too-rare moment in the sun. There are also multiple opportunities to dance the Chicken Dance (you know the tune), making this an Oktoberfest to be penciled in, in our view.

Peninsula Oktoberfest

When: Saturday, Oct. 14, 5–10pm

Where: Hiller Aviation Museum, 601 Skyway Rd, San Carlos

Tickets: Admission is $11–18; beer pours $5 each.

Top reason to go: Bayern Maiden, the Rockin’ Oktoberfest Band!

Look out, world! For the first time the Hiller Aviation Museum is throwing its annual Oktoberfest celebration at night. First keg is tapped at 5:10pm. Slake your yearlong thirst for German beer with drafts of hefe, dunkel and kolsch and samples of seasonal brews from Devil’s Canyon and Uncommon Brewers. Kids can explore the museum, opened up special for the occasion, while the grownups stand in line for extra brats and sauerkraut. The San Mateo Elks Oktoberfest Band plays traditional tunes starting at 5:15pm.

And then, something completely different. At 8pm Bayern Maiden takes the stage with the music they really play in the tents at the Wies’n, which is more “99 Luftballons” than “Beer Barrel Polka,” as this funny and edutaining video explains:

Another cool thing here: There’s a free shuttle from the San Mateo Caltrain station to the aviation museum (where parking is also free).

Campbell Oktoberfest

When: Saturday, Oct. 21 (10am-6pm) and Sunday, Oct. 22 (10am-5pm).

Where: E Campbell Ave and N 1st St., Campbell. Here’s some parking info and general information (including public transportation options).

Tickets: Free!

If one day isn’t enough to satisfy your craving for German food, beer, and spirit, then come to the Campbell Oktoberfest. This two-day celebration will leave you happily stuffed and hungover, but don’t think this one is just for the adults. Bring your kids of all ages, for this weekend combines all the essential elements of an Oktoberfest with the traditional pieces of a street festival. There will be over 100 arts and crafts vendors, a kid zone, live music and dancing, bratwursts, German potato salad, frozen custard, and even ice cream sandwiches. Plus 30,000–40,000 fun-loving people just like you.

Your people. Your party. Oktoberfest 2015 photo by Sheldon Chang.

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Traci Hukill

Former editor of @thesixfifty, journalist and marketer.

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