Yes, it’s true: sadly “Oktoberfest” in Munich, originally scheduled to begin September 18 this year, has been cancelled. And yes, the Vienna, Virginia and Winchester, Virginia Oktoberfest events have also been cancelled. Even Das Festhaus at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is closed for the month of September, although Busch Gardens is open. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate Oktoberfest while remaining safer at home! And you can have it anytime you wish.
Having a home-style Oktoberfest involves just a few elements to be fun.
Create a pandemic-safe Oktoberfest beer garden
If it is just you and your family, you could set up a table and chairs outside or use the picnic table you may already have in your yard. But if you prefer, you could also decorate your dining room and have an indoor celebration.
Because of the pandemic, I can’t recommend gathering together with people outside of your household in person, even outdoors, for an Oktoberfest celebration. But there are work-arounds! If you want to celebrate with friends or family outside of your household, one idea would be to order from the same restaurant (like German Gourmet or Old Europe, below) or to divvy up cooking and contact-less delivery tasks (for example, one family prepares and delivers the dessert, another, drinks, another, entree, etc.). Then you can set a time to enjoy the dinner together, virtually, through Face Time or Zoom.
Put up Bavarian-style decorations
You don’t have to spend a fortune to make it look like a party. Even just some blue and white streamers would be fun. But if you want to go all out, order some Oktoberfest party decorations or tableware. You can order these online from Party City. When I last checked, some items, like the paper plates (pictured above), were on sale. Don’t forget to take pictures!
Serve beer or non-alcoholic options
You can find German beer at Total Wine and some grocery stores. Hacker-Pschorr-Weisse is a Bavarian wheat beer that has been brewed since the 1400s. However, there is no law that says you have to drink beer to enjoy Oktoberfest! You could also serve apple juice or cider or German apple soda, or even lemonade or iced tea.
Play Oktoberfest music
Of course, you need background music. Here is more than an hour of traditional music I found on YouTube.
Learn how to polka!
It’s easy! Here is a video that shows you how.
Learn a few Bavarian phrases
I put these how they sound..not how they are spelled 🙂
- To greet someone – Sair-voose! or Groose Got
- Beer garden – sounds just like English, practically
- Cheers! – Prohst
- Pretzels – Brehtzen
Serve a Bavarian-style meal
My favorite part of Oktoberfest is the delicious food! Wondering what to serve? Here are three options, from least to most expensive.
Make your own feast. Here is a sample menu that is easy to make with grocery store ingredients.
- Soft Pretzels
- Bratwurst (Boars Head or Dietz and Watson are good brands)
- Pickled Red Cabbage (comes in a jar)
- Warm German potato salad
- Pickles, sauerkraut and German mustard
- Bavarian swiss cheese, Butterkase cheese or cheddar cheese
- An assortment of breads and rolls
- Apple Strudel, German Chocolate Cake or Black Forest Cake for dessert
Pick up deli-style takeout from German Gourmet. Don’t feel like cooking? You can buy these foods ready made or as platters at German Gourmet deli, bakery and store on Columbia Pike in Falls Church. I recommend the bratwurst sandwich and red cabbage and potato salad sides. They also sell a variety of rolls, desserts, sausages, beer and apple soda.
Order an authentic German dinner for delivery. My third option to suggest would be to order a delicious dinner from the Washington, DC German restaurant, Old Europe. Old Europe is offering Oktoberfest dining and they deliver up to 20 miles! Including draft beer and desserts! You can also order ahead and pick up food curbside. Their food is authentic and amazing and the menu is extensive. For example, appetizers include potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream, cherry soup, and pork liver pate, among others. Their house salad is very good and different from the ordinary. Entrees include a vegetarian schnitzel, a sausage combo with sauerkraut and warm potato salad (highly recommend) and beef sauerbraten with red cabbage and dumplings (highly recommend), among others. They have several desserts, including Black Forest cake. They also offer catering with individually packaged meals or family style meals for carryout or delivery.
I hope you decide to include celebrations, such as Oktoberfest, into your plans this fall. We all need something fun to look forward to. Pfiat di!