If you love beer, bratwursts and accordions, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Munich's Oktoberfest begins Saturday, and bars and beer gardens across the Washington region will join in the famous celebration by tapping traditional beers and hosting German bands and dancers over the next few weeks. Admission is free to all events below, unless otherwise noted. You're only responsible for buying food and drink.
German bars and beer gardens
Biergarten Haus, Sept. 16-Oct. 28
The vast outdoor spaces at Biergarten Haus, including a beer garden filled with long communal tables and a rooftop deck, turn the H Street bar into the District's main Oktoberfest destination. Everything kicks off on Saturday during the H Street Festival, with at least a half-dozen Oktoberfest beers on tap, including Spaten and Franziskaner, food specials and polka dancing. The party continues over the next few weeks, with beer tastings, games and a pig roast. Remember: Biergarten Haus takes reservations only for parties of 15 or more, so you may have to wait in line at peak periods.
Cafe Berlin, Sept. 16-Oct. 15
The Capitol Hill restaurant and beer garden launches its Oktoberfest menu on Saturday, and specials will run for a month. Live German music is featured on the patio on certain Sundays and Mondays, but the biggest party is for the outdoor pig roast (Sept. 16, Oct. 7 and Oct. 14), when $39 buys a plate of meat, two sides, dessert and a one-liter mug of beer.
Dacha Beer Garden, Sept. 16-30
While Dacha will have plenty of Oktoberfest beer, ranging from the Bavarian Weihenstephaner to the local version made by DC Brau, its two-week celebration is full of special events, such as a costume contest (Saturday at 2 p.m.), a "Dogtoberfest" for canine friends (Sept. 20), and an Oktoberfest market featuring local makers and vendors (Sept. 28).
District ChopHouse, Sept. 14-Oct. 1
The Penn Quarter brewpub always offers one of the area's most delicious Oktoberfest beers. It's tapped at 6 p.m. on Thursday, with German accordion music until 8 p.m. A menu of German dishes is offered through Oct. 1.
Old Europe Restaurant, Sept. 16-Oct. 31
Open since 1948, Old Europe's Oktoberfest means plates laden with weisswurst, Wiener schnitzel and other hearty dishes in the Glover Park restaurant's Bavarian-style beer hall, washed down with liters of Spaten Oktoberfest beer.
The Old Stein Inn, Sept. 15-Oct. 29
The Old Stein's terraced rear patio hosts live music and events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the end of October, with German beers on tap in the "Bier Bar." The opening weekend at the Edgewater, Md., restaurant features drinking songs played by a strolling accordionist (Friday), polka by Mike and the Continentals (Saturday) and traditional German music from Heidi und Heimat Echo (Sunday). Make reservations for the "Spanferkel-Fest" pig roast on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Sauf Haus, Sept. 16-Oct. 2
"Saufen" is the German verb for drinking alcohol to excess — "Saufen wie ein Loch" means "to drink like a fish" — and that's something to keep in mind when you visit this Dupont Circle bar, which boasts a 2,000-square-foot rooftop beer garden. Through Oct. 2, specials include $8 Oktoberfest flights and $8 "bier and a shot" combos of Oktoberfest beer and apple schnapps. Anyone wearing lederhosen or a dirndl receives a free Oktoberfest beer, and a keg of Oktoberfest will be tapped every Saturday at 2 p.m., with free beer for everyone until it runs out. A strolling accordion player sets the mood Thursday through Saturday nights.
Tysons Biergarten: Sept. 16-Oct. 28
Different events take over the Tysons Biergarten's indoor and outdoor spaces every Saturday through the end of October. Saturday and Oct. 21 are family-friendly parties, with a moon bounce, face painting, games and music, as well as German beers — Saturday includes a special keg from Munich's Hofbrau. Other weeks feature a tasting of American craft Oktoberfest beers (Sept. 23; $20 admission includes tastes of 10 beers) and a chili cookoff for charity (Oct. 14; $10 suggested donation).
Festivals and special events
Portner Brewhouse Oktoberfest, Sept. 16
Tickets to Portner Brewhouse's first Oktoberfest celebration include a souvenir 43-ounce glass mug, which guests can fill twice with Portner's house Festbier or another of the brewpub's offerings; an all-you-can-eat buffet of bratwurst, schnitzel, pretzels and other German offerings; and live German music by Die Zwei. Two sessions: A family-friendly session, which runs from noon to 4 p.m. ($50 per adult, $15 per child) or the 21-and-over session from 6 to 10 p.m. ($50 per adult, $30 per designated driver).
Mad Fox Hoppy Oktoberfest, Sept. 16
Mad Fox's outdoor Oktoberfest party features traditional German Oktoberfest beers from Ayinger and Spaten, as well as the house-brewed Hitzig Frau. But the real reason to attend this annual event is to taste 24 hoppy IPAs from across Virginia, including Triple Crossing, Hardywood and Center of the Universe. Noon to 6 p.m. General admission tickets $30 per person, and include six beer and food tickets; a couple's ticket ($55) ups that to 15 tickets. VIP passes ($65) allow early admission at 11 a.m. and unlimited food until 5 p.m.
Wunder Garten Oktoberfest, Sept. 22-24
NoMa's Wunder Garten beer garden marks Oktoberfest with a full weekend of events, plus German food from Cafe Berlin. It begins Friday at 5 p.m. with a keg tapping and music by Die Drei. Saturday starts with a family-friendly Oktoberfest features games and activities for kids from noon to 4 p.m., and an adults-only affair with DJs and beer from 5 p.m. to midnight. Sunday features a pig roast, beginning at 3 p.m., and more music from Die Drei.
Lovettsville Oktoberfest, Sept. 23
Lovettsville was founded by German immigrants in the 18th century, and its heritage is on full display when Oktoberfest takes over the town every September. Beyond traditional German music, dancing and food, there are wiener dog races, a pancake breakfast, children's activities, a beer garden, and vendors lining the streets of the historic downtown. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Fort Belvoir Oktoberfest, Sept. 28-Oct. 1
Fort Belvoir's four-day Oktoberfest celebration is packed with activities for the whole family: carnival rides and games; a 10K Volksmarch (or walk); a beer garden and German food; a bazaar and bake sale; and live music and dancing, including a German military band at Thursday night's opening party. Admission is free, but carnival rides cost extra. Although the event is open to the general public, adults must show a driver's license or state ID for admission. Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m., Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from noon to midnight, and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
Frederick Oktoberfest, Sept. 29-Oct. 1
The Frederick Fairgrounds are the site of Frederick's Oktoberfest, a three-day fundraiser for the Rotary Clubs of Frederick County. Drink beers from Europe or locals Flying Dog and Brewer's Alley, participate in the yodeling contest or a German spelling bee, dance to live music, and browse the vendors. Get free admission by wearing an authentic lederhosen or dirndl (T-shirts don't count) or participating in a 6K or 10K Volksmarch on Saturday morning. Friday 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets start at $8 in advance for adults and $5 for ages 3 to 20, or $40 for admission all three days.
Capitol City Brewing's Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest, Sept. 30
After 17 years of oompah music, bratwurst and German-inspired beers, Capitol City Brewing's Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest has become a fixture on the local Oktoberfest calendar. At least 65 breweries will bring beers to the 18th edition of this block party in the streets of Shirlington, while restaurants sell food on the sidewalks. As always, the musicians and dancers of the Washington Saengerbund choral group provide the entertainment. Noon to 7 p.m. Admission to the event is free, but beer tasting costs $30, which includes 10 four-ounce samples.
Heurich House Oktoberfest, Sept. 30-Oct. 1
The Brewmaster's Castle is turning its landscaped garden into a pop-up beer garden for two days, serving traditional German sausages and pretzels and pouring mugs of German festbiers and DC Brau's Heurich's Lager. Noon to 8 p.m.
PIKEtoberfest, Oct. 1
A family-friendly festival in the Rockville Pike shopping district includes a hay-bale maze and the chance for kids to touch real construction equipment, while grown ups enjoy a beer garden (sponsored by craft beer destination Owen's Ordinary), live music and sidewalk sales. Noon to 4 p.m.
Port City Oktoberfest, Oct. 7
The Alexandria brewery turns its parking lot into a beer garden with tented seating, games and food trucks. Grab an Oktoberfest lager, a smoked Rauch Marzen lager or a barrel-aged and listen to some live music. Noon to 9 p.m.
Doener Bistro, Oct. 19-22
Leesburg's Doener Bistro marks its 10th Oktoberfest with a four-day party. Thursday's Game Time includes a stein-holding contest and live accordion music. Friday encourages locals to get the party started early with $5 specials from noon to 3 p.m. followed by happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m., and Lost Lederhosen performing German hits from 5 p.m. on. Saturday brings happy hour and live music from noon to 3 p.m., and karaoke from 6 to 8 p.m. Everything wraps up with more live music from Lost Lederhosen on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m.