The 185th Oktoberfest celebration begins in Munich on Saturday and runs through Oct. 7. Many bars will have some sort of party — often with large mugs of beer and a stein-holding competition — but if you want a more festive Oktoberfest, complete with brass music, traditional beer and a pig roast, try one of these events instead.
Heurich Oktoberfest, Sept. 22
Washington's original king of beers was Christian Heurich, a German immigrant who opened his first brewery in 1873. The success of Heurich Lager helped the brewery to become Washington's largest private employer. The large garden at Heurich's Dupont mansion becomes a beer garden for Oktoberfest, with beers brewed by District Chophouse's Barrett Lauer. VIP tickets ($35) include 6 p.m. entry for a guided beer tasting with Lauer. 7 to 9 p.m. $20.
Wiener 500, Sept. 22
The most ridiculous and hilarious Oktoberfest tradition in the city is a series of races between more than 100 dachshunds (up to eight per heat), all broadcast live on a 17-foot jumbotron in Yards Park. When you're not cheering on your favorite dog, entertainment includes a canine costume contest that, unlike the races, is open to all breeds, and a beer garden, all in support of the Humane Rescue Alliance. 1 to 5 p.m. Free.
Bluejacket Oktoberfest, Sept. 22
Bluejacket has a novel way of celebrating Oktoberfest: The Navy Yard brewery is serving four German-style beers, including the brand-new Hill House festbier, from rubber-clad gravity kegs. These are traditional German serving vessels that pour the beer without additional carbon dioxide, leading to a less-fizzy and more flavorful stein of beer. Sip from a commemorative Bluejacket one-liter mug ($20 per liter, including the glass, and $6 per half-liter) while listening to the alpine sounds of the Edelweiss Band. Noon to 5 p.m. Free.
Wunder Garten, Sept. 28-30
The annual Oktoberfest celebration at this NoMa beer garden is a three-day affair with live music by the Die Drei band each afternoon and a mix of German and local seasonal beers. Special events include the Bavarian Olympics on Saturday (4 to 7 p.m.) with yodeling and stein holding competitions, and Sunday's “Dogtoberfest” with a costume contest and toy drive benefiting local animal shelters. Friday from 3 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from noon to midnight, Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. Free.
Crystal City Oktoberfest, Sept. 29
When Capitol City Brewing Company closed its Arlington brewery in March, it almost meant the end of the road for the Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest, the 17-year-old tradition that brought craft beers and oompah music to the streets of Shirlington. The Crystal City Business Improvement District has picked up the torch, however, and is launching its own version, promising more than 100 beers from Germany and America, food trucks, and a mix of traditional music and cover bands. Tickets include samples of 10 different beers. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. $30-$50.
Döner Bistro, Oct. 18-21
Döner Bistro has been Leesburg's Oktoberfest spot for 11 years. Opening night features a family-friendly party with limbo and other games, happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. and specials just for kids from 4 to 7 p.m. The Lost Lederhosen brass band plays German music on Friday and Sunday; Saturday's entertainment includes an accordion player in the afternoon and karaoke and a DJ in the evening. Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.
Beer gardens with ongoing celebrations:
Cafe Berlin, Sept. 22-Oct. 21
The beer garden is one of the draws of the Capitol Hill restaurant, especially when it's tented for Oktoberfest. Look for live music on selected Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings, and Saturday afternoon pig roasts with food and a liter of beer for $43. (A special Oktoberfest menu is offered the rest of the time.) 322 Massachusetts Ave. SE.
The Old Stein Inn, Sept. 22-Oct. 21
The spacious back patio at this Edgewater, Md., institution is an excellent place to celebrate, with strolling accordion music, live bands including Mike Surratt & the Continentals — a staple at the much-missed Blob's Park — and Sunday afternoon pig roasts. The food, which includes wurst platters, schnitzel and giant pork shanks, is the reason you'll want to make a table reservation. 1143 Central Ave., Edgewater, Md.
Tysons Biergarten, Sept. 22-Oct. 20
The owners of the two-year-old Tysons Biergarten are preparing to move their beer garden to a new location near the McLean Metro station early next year, while also opening a restaurant called Hops N Shine in Del Ray. But first, there's Oktoberfest. The bar's opening and closing ceremonies are family-friendly parties, with a moon bounce, face painting and plenty of beer, and the weeks in between offer a breast cancer fundraiser (Sept. 30), a chili cookoff (Oct. 5) and a festival with 50 beers and ciders on tap (Oct. 13). 8346 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Corner.