Break out your lederhosen or dirndl, Oktoberfest season is here.
While most Americans associate Oktoberfest with polka music and beer drinking, it's important to recognize the holiday as a 200-year-old German tradition. The first celebration occurred in 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in the fields on the edge of Munich. In addition to suds and schnitzel, the original event included horse races and an agricultural festival.
The spirit of Oktoberfest is alive and well in Dallas-Fort Worth. As Dallas Morning News reporter Hannah Wise has said, the season should fill you with gemütlichkeit, or a feeling of warmth, happiness and acceptance.
Here are seven celebrations where you'll find just that -- plus plenty of beer.
Every year thousands gather in Addison Circle Park to celebrate Oktoberfest with authentic food, music and, of course, beer. Organizers set up a massive Munich-style beer tent for the four-day event, which is one of the biggest in Dallas-Fort Worth. Activities include barrel-rolling races, Alpine dancers, and Dachshund races in addition to live performances. Expect to find German eats, such as turkey legs, bratwurst, schnitzel, strudel and German chocolate cake, as well as Paulaner beers. Admission is free on Thursday (Sept. 20) and Sunday (Sept. 23), but on Friday (Sept. 21) and Saturday (Sept. 22) admission costs $10 for adults and adolescents 13 and up.
Chamberlain's Brau House is also offering a special VIP experience, with a three-course German tasting menu paired with Paulaner beer, plus a commemorative stein and a seat overlooking the excitement on the festival dance floor. Check out the full menu.
Addison Oktoberfest runs Thursday, Sept. 20 to Sunday, Sept. 23. Hours vary by day. More deets.
Fort Worth Oktoberfest
Panther Island has gone hard in recent years to establish its place as a ferociously fun entertainment hub in North Texas, and its fall Oktoberfest celebration is no exception.
German-themed biergartens, polka music, dancing, Dachshund races and themed souvenirs define the three-day festival. Participate in "Oktoberfest Olympics" such as bier barrel rolling races and stein-hoisting competitions, and take cash (or your debit card for on-site ATMS) for strudels, schnitzels and giant soft Bavarian pretzels. Active folks will enjoy the Run Und Ride, featuring a 20 mile bike ride and 5K race.
Purchase tickets online before Sept. 26 to receive a free commemorative stein.
Fort Worth Oktoberfest runs Thursday, Sept. 27 to Saturday, Sept. 29. Hours vary by day. More deets.
Fourteen blocks in downtown McKinney will be transformed into a beer garden for the city's Oktoberfest party. Founded in 2001, the three-day event also features an artist market, live music and a carnival with games and rides. And yes, there will be plenty of suds to go around.
An opening parade and keg-tapping ceremony kick things off at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28. Throughout the weekend, there will be live music on four stages, stein holding competitions and gemuetlichkeit (goodwill) games such as bier barrel racing and giant bier pong contests. Organizers describe it best: "Grab the lederhosen and dirndl and prepare to polka, indulge in tasty German eats and treats, watch weenie dogs race, sample beer and roll out the barrel..."
McKinney Oktoberfest runs Friday, Sept. 28 to Sunday, Sept. 30. Hours vary by day. More deets.
Lake Highlands Oktoberfest
There are barrels of Bavarian fun at this festival on Flag Pole Hill, but let's start with one element that sets it apart from numerous Oktoberfest events in North Texas: the Americana and roots rock music line-up.
Headliner Bob Schneider rounds out the schedule, which also features Petty Theft (a celebrated Tom Petty cover band), EPIC Unplugged (which plays rock anthems in acoustic format, inspired by the classic television show MTV Unplugged) and Pedigo's Magic Pilsner, headed by John Pedigo of The O's. Food includes brats, giant soft pretzels and pizza, plus hefeweizen and kolsch beers. Take the whole family to play in the free kids' area and compete for the title of King of the Hill in a cornhole tournament.
Lake Highlands Oktoberfest runs Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. More deets.
Garland Guzzler 0.5K
This tongue-in-cheek inaugural 0.5K race -- the course is 546 yards long, around this downtown Garland square -- also features live music, German-style dancing and food and drinks. "Dogs, and especially dogs in costumes, are welcome," organizers say.
Garland Guzzler 0.5K runs on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 3-9:30 p.m. More deets.
Rahr and Sons Oktoberfest 5K
This Fort Worth brewery annually hosts one of the most spirited 5K races of the German beer drinking season. The run/walk (which features a beer belly division) begins at 9 a.m. and is followed by beer swilling, stein hoisting, live polka music, food and other contests at the brewing facility. Registration for the 5K costs $53 and costumes are highly encouraged.
Rahr and Sons Oktoberfest 5K takes place Saturday, Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. More deets.
Art, food and beer vendors will be stationed throughout the Southlake Town Square during its annual Oktoberfest celebration. The main attractions include live music, wiener dog races and a kid's play area. Admission is free.
Southlake Oktoberfest runs Friday, Oct. 5 to Sunday, Oct. 7. Hours vary by day. More deets.
Wear lederhosen or a dirndl for free admission to this inaugural event (it's otherwise $5 for adults and adolescents 13 and up $5). Plus, everything's more fun in costume.
The first annual Celina Oktoberfest begins with a ceremonial keg tapping and toast, followed by a Dachshund Derby, polka music and dancing, a Chicken Dance circle, German food and costume contests.
For children, there will be an obstacle course, rock climbing wall and petting zoo, and for football fans, college games will be playing on a big LED screen. Mike and Cash Sirois of The Ticket sports radio will even broadcast live from Celina square from noon to 2 p.m.