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One of Galveston’s most popular fall festivals, Oktoberfest provides German-themed fun and entertainment for the entire family every year.
Island Oktoberfest takes place every year toward the end of October. It features live entertainment, shopping, a live auction, and assorted children’s activities. Come dressed in your finest German attire, witness the historic tapping of the keg, and delight in some authentic German food and drink!
Date(s): October 27-28, 2023
Held on the grounds of and streets adjacent to the First Lutheran Church at 24th and Winnie in downtown Galveston, this lively event is not to be missed. Admission to the three-day festival is free, with all proceeds going to outreach and programs of First Lutheran Church, including Feed Galveston and Fanfare!
It’s always an enjoyable weekend for all, with great music and dancing, and a Biergarten with German and domestic brews. Eat all the bratwurst, handmade pretzels, and other traditional food you can stomach, and then burn off the calories at the annual Chicken Dance contest. There’s also a silent auction, a stein-holding contest (how long can you hold your stein?), and a new expanded Kids’ Zone. This special area will keep kids busy for hours with a rock wall, dual lane giant slide, pony rides, and more.
Come dressed to impress, as it’s not only entertaining for all but there are prizes to be won, too. The festival’s photographers will be looking out for German costumes in the crowd, and on Saturday, there’ll be a German Costume Contest (free to enter). Lucky winners will receive a $50 gift card in four categories: Best Adult Gentleman, Best Adult Lady, Best Child Boy, and Best Child Girl.
On Friday, the tapping of the keg takes place, officially opening Oktoberfest. Not only is the keg full of imported German beer, but the beer gets passed out for free. If wine is more your fancy, this is your kind of Oktoberfest, as there will also be a “Popping of the Cork.”
Besides festival treats like freshly popped popcorn and warm pretzels, a delicious meal will be waiting for you. Sausage lovers will be in heaven with smoked bratwurst and knockwurst and the hearty wurst abendessen, a typical German sausage dinner paired with traditional side dishes. End the meal on a sweet note with a freshly baked Helga’s strudel, along with other homemade desserts.
In between all the eating and shopping, kick off your heels to live music on the festival’s two main stages. Back again this year to delight the crowd are The TubaMeisters, the tuba/euphonium quartet. You’ll be delighted to know that they play more than just traditional oompah band music.
The 1850 Lyceum, the Victorian-style mid-19th century chapel, is also the venue for getting your shopping fix at Oktoberfest. Get to know various vendors and their lovely handcrafted items, and maybe even get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping with unique gifs.
Try your luck on the Cake Wheel and you may walk away from Oktoberfest with a ton of cake! Pick the right number on the spinning wheel and a cake of your choice is yours to take home. All cakes are handmade by the congregation of First Lutheran Church.
Show your endurance and strength in the Bavarian sport of Masskrugstemmen, in which contestants hold a 1-liter stein of beer in front of them at shoulder level for as long as possible. The rules are strict: no beer spilling, no elbow bending, and arms must be kept parallel to the ground. Come try to beat the world record set in Germany — 20 minutes and 13 seconds!
On Saturday, get ready for some laughs with the annual Chicken Dance contest. Pairs create their own dance moves, and the more creative the better. Contestants must be on the dance floor and ready to groove before the music starts. Volunteers from the crowd and event staff will choose semi-finalists. Winners will be judged based on the length/volume of applause delivered by the audience.
For more information visit Galveston’s ofﬁcial Oktoberfest website.