While the tradition in Germany began as a 16-day festival, Oktoberfest is celebrated all over San Diego on various dates and at a range of locations, from Balboa Park to Julian. Apart from the lederhosen, loads of beer and bratwurst, it’s the polka dancing, oom-pah bands and family-friendly activities that capture the lively German spirit.
Oktoberfest in El Cajon – September 27, 28, 29; October 4, 5, 6
The German American Societies of San Diego bring the El Cajon festivities to life in this annual hearty heaping of traditional German foods, German beers and an authentic band flying in from – you guessed it – Germany. Other activities include traditional polka dancing performances, craft booths and games.
Times: Friday 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday 12 to 10 p.m. Sunday 12 to 9 p.m.
Venue: German American Societies, 1017 S. Mollison Ave., El Cajon.
Price: $5 adults; free for military or under 21
Oktoberfest in Balboa Park – September 28 & 29
The International Dancers of Balboa Park make this annual festival twirl. The whole family can take part in free dance lessons, traditional folk performances, arts and crafts and endless food vendors. On Saturday, learn the basic folk dance steps and by Sunday, show them off at the dance fest. Your leashed four-legged friends are invited to attend, too.
Times: Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Venue: Balboa Park Club, 2144 Pan American Road W, Balboa Park
Oktoberfest in La Mesa – October 4, 5, 6
Over seven blocks of downtown La Mesa will boom with live music, 250 booths, two beer gardens, ample food tents and a roomy dance floor. An expected 200,000 people will rub shoulders to the tunes of spirited oom-pah bands at the oldest celebration in East County.
Times: Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.
Venue: La Mesa Blvd. between Acacia and 4th Ave., La Mesa
Carlsbad Rotary Oktoberfest – October 5
This day starts with a traditional German dinner catered by Tip Top Meats, and then moves into dancing, children’s activities like face painting and inflatable jumpers, a pumpkin patch and plenty of beer. Catch live music by the Bluebirds German Band and Palomar Pacific Coast Concert Band.
Times: 12 to 10 p.m.
Venue: Holiday Park, Chestnut Ave., Carlsbad
Price: $10 advance; $12 day of event
Ocean Beach Oktoberfest – October 11 & 12
On Friday night of this fest, catch the Beer Garden Band Slam finals for the best cover band vying for $3,000 in cash prizes. On Saturday, get moving before you grub at the 2nd Annual Brat Trot Beach Run. After, savor the imported German beer and try your hand at the contests like the Sausage Toss competition offering a $10,000 cash prize.
Times: Friday 4:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Venue: Ocean Beach Pier, Ocean Beach
St. Elizabeth’s Annual Oktoberfest in Julian – October 12 & 13
Julian already exudes coziness and fall warmth. Add some Oktoberfest fun, and you’ve got a recipe for autumn adventure. St. Elizabeth’s Oktoberfest brings the beer, music and dancers in traditional German and Austrian style. It’s all part of the ongoing Julian Apple Days celebration.
Times: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Venue: Rabobank, 2033 Main Street, Julian
Did we miss one? Leave a comment below with your favorite Oktoberfest celebration in San Diego.
Discover more entertainment ideas in our San Diego events calendar.