Prost! Break out the lederhosen, pretzels and polka tunes – it’s Oktoberfest season. In San Diego, many communities will host their own versions of the German festival that celebrates music, fun, food and, of course, excellent beer. Grab your stein and toast with friends in America’s Finest City.
La Mesa Oktoberfest
Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, La Mesa Village
A long-standing tradition in downtown La Mesa's Village, the 44th annual La Mesa Oktoberfest returns Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, bringing the ultimate street fair to the East County community. As always, the event will include German beer, German food, German music, and dancing aplenty.
The Oktoberfest party typically draws about 100,000 revelers to La Mesa Village, as well as 100+ vendors selling their unique goods. Admission is free; bring cash for brews and bites. Also, sporting your lederhosen is not a bad idea: usually, the event includes a German costume contest. La Mesa Oktoberfest hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 29; 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 30; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 1.
Sept. 29 - Oct. 8, Liberty Public Market
Liberty Public Market (LPM) kicks off its 10-day craft beer-meets-Oktoberfest celebration featuring tasty brews and German-inspired bites available for purchase across the artisan vendors of the marketplace. Over at Bottlecraft, the German Tap Takeover includes several “biers,” plus a $15 collector’s stein with $5 CRAFToberfest beer refills all week long.
For food, Mastiff Sausage Company will grill brats on the LPM patio, while Crafted Baked Goods whips up flavored pretzel bites, and Le Parfait Paris bakes apple strudel. The family-friendly event will also include lawn games like giant Jenga and ring toss. CRAFToberfest runs through Oct. 8, during LPM's regular business hours, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The event is free; bring money to buy food and drinks.
Oktoberfest in El Cajon
Sept. 29 to Oct. 1; and Oct. 6 to Oct. 8), 1017 S. Mollison Ave.
Oktoberfest in El Cajon is so nice, it happens twice. The first round of Oktoberfest runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 and returns the following weekend, Oct. 6 through Oct. 8. Hosted by the German American Societies of San Diego, Inc., this traditional Oktoberfest takes place at 1017 S. Mollison Ave. and will feature authentic German food – think pretzels and ox-on-the-spit here – a beer garden, games, and family-friendly activities.
Also on the agenda: live "Oom-Pah" music from the Bavarian band, Guggenbach-Buam, straight from Baden-Württemberg, Germany, performing classics like polkas, waltzes, and other toe-tapping tunes that pair nicely with a brew or two. Raffles, games, crafts and a kids zone round out the fun.
Admission costs $10 for attendees 21 and older on Sept. 29, Sept. 30, Oct. 6 and Oct. 7. On Sundays -- Oct. 1 and Oct. 8 -- tickets will be $5. Anyone who is 21 and younger, and active duty military members, get in free on all days of the festival. El Cajon Oktoberfest hours: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 29 and Oct. 6; 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7; 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 1 and Oct. 8.
Oct. 1, Mountain Vista Drive and El Camino Real
The 22nd annual Encinitas Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 1 at Mountain Vista Drive and El Camino Real. The free event includes a concert from a German-American band, Bavarian dancers and a street fair filled with more than 200 vendors selling crafts and unique goods.
There will be activities and rides for the kids, too, plus a ceremonial parade at noon. A food and refreshment tent will boast authentic Oktoberfest food, plus beers from national and local breweries. Free parking is available at Flora Vista Elementary School (1690 Wandering Rd.), and a free shuttle service will take attendees directly to the festival.
Hotel Del Oktoberfest
Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, Hotel Del Coronado
The Hotel Del Coronado’s Sun Deck will transform into a Bavarian-style hotspot for an Oktoberfest celebration that runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. Each day, at 11:30 a.m., the Sun Deck will turn into a beer garden boasting specialty beers from Karl Strauss, plus a menu featuring German favorites like bratwurst and sauerkraut, Munich-inspired pretzels, schnitzel and more.
The Bavarian bash includes ceremonial keg-tapping, live music, and a visit from the Karl Strauss Beer Maidens, who will share samples of specialty suds. Admission is free, and food and drinks can be purchased a la carte.
Oktoberfest & Family Fall Festival in Carlsbad
Oct. 7, Holiday Park
The 35th annual Oktoberfest & Family Fall Festival in San Diego’s North County returns to Holiday Park in Carlsbad on Oct. 7, from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Entertainment includes live music and dancing, costume and yodeling contests and lots of activities for the kids, including a pumpkin patch, face painting and arts and crafts.
Food vendors will sell German-inspired items like pretzels and strudel; a Biergarten will give revelers a perfect place to toast. Buy your ticket ahead of time for $15, which includes a German meal and admission (bratwurst, sausage and other selections), or purchase the admission only ticket for $5. Kids 10 years old and under get in free.
Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, Ocean Beach
Tried, true and extremely fun, the self-proclaimed "wildest" Oktoberfest celebration in San Diego returns to Ocean Beach on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7. With a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, the event includes live music, beer and quirky contests such as Bratwurst Eating, Stein Holding, The Sausage Toss, Ms. Oktoberfest and Mr. OktoberStretch.
As usual, dozens of local vendors will line the grassy area at the foot of Newport Avenue and Abbott Street, too, selling their goodies to revelers. Organizers say the beer garden will be located in the adjacent Ocean Beach Pier parking lot, which will include the main stage for bands.
Entry to the 21+ beer garden costs $5. On Oct. 7, brew enthusiasts can also enjoy the OB Oktoberfest Brewfest from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; proceeds from those $40 tickets will benefit wounded U.S. veterans. OB Oktoberfest Times: 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 6; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 7.