Ever since Bavaria’s Crown Prince Ludwig got married, Oktoberfest has been an excuse to celebrate in autumn.
For six days in September, Larimer Street in downtown Denver brings the flavor of Germany with the annual Denver Oktoberfest. This more modernized version of the Bavarian shindig still retains elements of every Oktoberfest: beer, food and music.
For more than 50 years the Mile High City has hosted the annual event bringing crowds of up to 350,000 people. It’s free and located just a few blocks from Coors Field. The six days stretch over two long weekends, Friday through Sunday.
What to expect
Of course the variety of beers is one reason to attend, but the incredible food also tops the list. Mouth watering baked pretzels and traditional German dishes like spätzle and jägerschnitzel top the list. There are also some non-German options like giant versions of a turkey leg and rice crispy treats.
The beer list generally includes Spaten, Franziskaner and Beck’s Lager. Food and drinks can be purchased with tickets.
One of the best parts of Denver Oktoberfest is the lineup of special events. Anyone can participate in the costume contest or listen to live polka bands. There’s also keg bowling which is a little easier for the average person. Instead of a ball, simply roll a keg on wheels down a narrow road to knock over a pyramid of kegs.
Those with strong arms can give stein hoisting a try. Competitors hold a full beer stein in front of them in this match of strength and endurance. After several qualifying rounds, the last person who avoids spilling their stein wins a trip to Munich. If your eating skills are better than your holding skills, the sausage eating contest is open to anyone.
The most amusing event of the weekend is hands down the Long Dog Derby. The race determines the fastest dachshund in Denver in six different categories. Dachshund’s can also compete in a special costume contest.
The other best part of Denver Oktoberfest is that it’s free to attend. Alternatively you can purchase a VIP ticket for a starting price of around $100. That gives you unlimited beer and food, a glass stein and most importantly access to private restrooms. VIP tickets can be purchased for an individual day or for a full weekend.
Where to stay
Because Denver Oktoberfest is held downtown, there are plenty of hotel options within walking distance. The Maven at Dairy Block and The Oxford Hotel, Denver’s oldest still-operating hotel, are excellent nearby choices.
The Crawford Hotel is not only close, it’s has multiple restaurants, is near public transportation and is adjacent to lots of entertainment. The hotel was built within Union Station and preserves much of the building’s history and vibe.
A bit further away, the Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection, is on the National Register for Historic Places and is Denver’s second oldest continually-operating hotel. Its atrium with a stained glass skylight is a beautiful spot to have brunch or cocktails.
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