The 10 Best Oktoberfest Celebrations near the Twin Cities

best oktoberfests twin cities mn

If there’s a few things the Twin Cities knows how to do, it’s beer, pizza, and a party.

Nothing combines those three ingredients of a good time quite like an Oktoberfest.

As the weather cools off and the beers start turning darker, don’t miss some of the Twin Cities’ best Oktoberfests!

And beware: much like the official German celebrations, a lot of them get a head start on that winter weather with an earlier schedule than you’d think! If it’s September, it’s Oktoberfest season!

Map of Oktoberfest Celebrations around the Twin Cities

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1. St. Paul Oktoberfest (St. Paul, MN)

Every year, the Germanic American Institute offers one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the cities. They import beer directly from Munich, offer more bratwurst options than any human could ever eat, and of course, all the live polka music you could ever want.

Past venues have included the Schmidt Artist Lofts and the Germanic American Institute grounds. This year, they promise more German-imported beer, plus local favorites Gerhard bratwurst and Aki’s pretzels.

It’s a two-day celebration at the very beginning of September, so get ready to kick off the Oktoberfest season right!

2. Twin Cities Oktoberfest (Falcon Heights, MN)

Every year, one of the biggest Oktoberfests around is the official Twin Cities Oktoberfest. Taking place at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, this two day celebration brings together some of the most authentically German dance groups, polka groups, and more.

Their beer showcases several local breweries. (This year, brewers include Utepils, Lupulin, Lift Bridge, and Sociable Cider Werks.) For food, you can expect plenty of local brats, BBQ, pretzels, and even European pancakes!

3. Oktoberfest USA (La Crosse, WI)

If you’re willing to travel to find the biggest and best, the beautiful river town of La Crosse (2.5 hours from Minneapolis) is proud to boast the longest-running Oktoberfest in the Midwest. Since 1961, thousands of beer loving Oktoberfest fans have converged on downtown La Crosse, and over the years, it’s grown to be the biggest Oktoberfest celebration within a day trip of the Twin Cities.

Seriously, it’s huge. 

Expect to find food vendors, carnival rides, a lederhosen games, a torchlight parade, the “tapping of the golden keg,” endless live music, and tons of craft beer over one of “das beste” Oktoberfests not just in our area, but in the entire country.

Oh, and La Crosse is a college town, so you know they’re bringing the party.

P.S. – From the Twin Cities, you can avoid the drive in the most scenic way possible – with a two-hour scenic train ride!

4. New Ulm Oktoberfest (New Ulm, MN)

According to the 2000 Census, New Ulm, Minnesota is “the most German town in America.” So it makes sense that this is one place that really knows how to host an Oktoberfest.

While they’ve scaled down slightly from their absolutely massive festivals in the past, New Ulm Oktoberfest is still widely regarded as one of the biggest and best in the country.

This legendary event takes place during the first two full weekends every October, and this is a party so big that it can’t be contained to just one spot. Instead, Oktoberfest here sprawls through historic downtown New Ulm, Schell’s Brewery (the oldest brewery in Minnesota) nearby wineries, and even a hotel or two!

5. Oktoberfest at the Renaissance Festival (Shakopee, MN)

One of the most popular events in the Twin Cities every year is the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, which just so happens to get in on the seasonal festivities with an Oktoberfest weekend.

You can expect to find all the quirks that make Ren Fest so lovable, including an annual “best beard” competition, lederhosen costume contest, dachshund races, stein holding competitions, and more.

6. Oktoberfest at The Black Forest Inn (Minneapolis, MN)

The Black Forest Inn is one of the oldest and most popular German restaurants in town, so it’s no surprise they usually offer one of the best local Oktoberfests.

Case in point? This might be the only spot we’ve ever seen with authentic alphorn bands…

2023 Update: We were all devastated when they had to put a pause on their legendary Oktoberfest celebrations due to the pandemic, but we’re told the shenanigans are returning in 2023. No official word yet, though. So it’s looking like this one might get delayed again, unfortunately.

7. Delano Oktoberfest (Delano, MN)

One of the newest entrants into the Twin Cities’ tradition of Oktoberfests lies in Delano, MN, about 40 minutes west of the cities.

In 2018, they hosted the first annual Delano Oktoberfest. By 2021, the event was bigger than ever, taking place at the famous St. Peter Lutheran Church. (This is the same church that hosts Dalno’s German Maifest every May, a classic German tradition involving the hoisting of giant trees to signify the end of a long winter.)

2023 Update: This one might be done for. Delano didn’t host the event for the past few years, and their website seems to have been taking over by a medical device company.

8. Ruttger’s Bay Lake Resort Oktoberfest (Deerwood, MN)

Although it’s nearly 2 hours from the Twin Cities near Brainerd, MN, the Ruttger’s Bay Oktoberfest is worthy of a mention. It regularly hosts over 5,000 visitors, and it’s unique in taking place entirely on the grounds of the lake resort. Meaning you can party all day and then crash all night at any of the resort’s numerous cabins, cottages, villas, or hotel rooms.

This is also one of the latest Oktoberfest celebrations near the Twin Cities, taking place near the end of October. So, if you miss some of the other celebrations (or you just can’t get enough polka and pretzels!) then this is a great way to wrap up the season.

9. Chippewa Falls Oktoberfest (Chippewa Falls, WI) 

Chippewa Falls is home of the legendary Leinenkugels Brewery. That is to say, it’s a place packed with German culture and brewing history, so you know they take their Oktoberfest seriously.

About 1 hour from the Twin Cities, this celebration lasts a full weekend in mid-September. You can expect plenty of polka bands, German food vendors, demonstrations, (German dumpling making, anyone? Or maybe a saueukraut eating contest?) and other fun festivities.

10. Oktoberfests at Twin Cities Breweries

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Of course, the Twin Cities are a place with 80+ breweries, and as you can imagine, tons of those breweries join in the Oktoberfest fun each fall.

Come September to October, nearly all of the local breweries start pouring their Oktoberfest seasonals, and a significant portion even host official Oktoberfest events.

The extend of the celebrations range from a casual weekend get-together to massively wild, full-fledged festivals. A few of our usual favorites: 

  • Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery (St. Paul) – September 22 & September 29, 2023. Waldmann might be St. Paul’s most authentic German brewery, so it’s no surprise they lean into the Oktoberfest shenanigans in full force. Expect plenty of live folk music in their outdoor beer garden.
  • Utepils (Minneapolis) – September 15-16, 2023, and September 22-23, 2023. With a large outdoor space and lots of German beer on tap, Utepils is always a great option for Oktoberfest in the Twin Cities. Two weekends in a row, so you know they’ve got big plans! 
  • Pryes (Minneapolis) – In 2023, Pryes celebration covers there weekends: September 15-17, 22-24, and 29-30, 2023. PryesFest is basically a hybrid between an Oktoberfest and a music festival.

That’s just the start, though. Check out our full list of Twin Cities breweries to see whether there’s an Oktoberfest celebration at a brewery near you!

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