Wundabah! Oktoberfest season is here once again! Despite Canada and Ontario dealing with the 4th wave of the covid pandemic, this year’s Oktoberfest season is going to be another one for the books. A 3rd weekend has been added, as well as some other new bonuses. Excited to get into the KW Oktoberfest 2021 shenanigans? Mark your calendars for September 24th to October 11th and read on, fellow festers!
I am so excited for this new festival addition. Not everyone will be able or ready to attend the festhallen this year, so the committee is working hard to bring the party to you!
The 14-foot mobile WunderWagen stage has already taken to the streets to spread Oktoberfest cheer. What kind of cheer you ask? It will feature local bands and entertainers, like The Golden Keys Band, right in front of your house. (I wasn’t kidding when I said they’re bringing the festival to you this year.) The WunderWagen will be popping around to different neighbourhoods, restaurant patios, and community centres to brighten our days with polka beats and other Oktoberfest classics. I don’t know about you, but a porch or street party sounds phenomenal right about now!
However, there’s a twist to add even more excitement to the WunderWagen train…’er stage. Many of the pop-up concerts will be a surprise. In order to figure out where it will be, make sure you’re tuned in to the KW Oktoberfest Facebook and Instagram pages. The last day for the WunderWagen will be Monday, October 11th.
KW Oktoberfest 2021 will kickoff with an invite-only in-person keg tapping ceremony at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. There’s good news for the rest of us too! The whole community will be able to tune in for the livestream on Friday, September 24th at noon.
The 6 traditional Festhallen (Alpine Club, Bingemans, Concordia Club, Hubertushaus, Schwaben Club, and the Transylvania Club) will also be running weekend events. In addition, this year’s calendar will include other live celebrations, with Micro-Festhallen at local restaurants, cafes, breweries, and markets throughout Waterloo Region. For a complete list, please visit the link here. In-person festivities will also be live-streamed so that everyone who wants to is able to participate.
The well-loved goodies and good vibes that are a part of festhallen will still be a part of this year’s Oktoberfest experience, from entertainment to food. Your senses will get their fill of music, beer, pretzels – you name it. There will be a range of events for families and adults alike, from concerts, to interactive cooking demos, to kids’ shows, and cultural dances.
It is important to note that all attendees are required to follow Public Health recommendations for social distancing and wearing masks throughout the festival to ensure a safe, successful, and enjoyable 3 weeks.
Oktoberfest Local Box
The Oktoberfest Local Box was introduced in 2020 due to the pandemic and is continuing again this year. It’s an awesome way to enjoy Oktoberfest treats at home. In fact, even the packaging – a reusable Oktoberfest cooler bag – is a handy keepsake. Speaking of keepsakes, the 2021 Oktoberfest Pin is included in this year’s Local Box, along with locally curated items from All Things Tea, BrewDash, The Culinary Studio, Four All Ice Cream (my favourite!), GrainHarvest Breadhouse, LENJO Bakes, Monigram Coffee, Phlippens, Pretty By Her, and more.
Last year’s boxes (shown below) look a little different from this year’s…but you’ll have to order yours for the reveal.
Culinary Experiences at Home
Taste of Oktoberfest is a mouthwatering online Bavarian cooking class hosted by The Culinary Studio to bring festhallen food into your home. You’ll learn how to prepare, make, and plate a 3-course meal for 4 people. Attendees can pick up their ingredients and accompanying Foundry Brewing Co beers at The Culinary Studio, making it super easy to participate.
The Onkel Hans Food Drive is an integral part of our KW Bavarian tradition. In Waterloo Region 1 in 20 homes require food assistance and the pandemic hasn’t made things easier for anyone. The Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Parade is usually when donations are accepted, however since this will be the second year without the parade the Oktoberfest committee has provided other ways for the community to support one another.
One of the ways you can contribute to the Onkel Hans Food Drive is with the purchase of the Oktoberfest Local Box. A portion of the money collected will be donated to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Another way is by partaking in the virtual event, Live @ Home, on Saturday, October 9th from 4pm to 11pm. Everyone is encouraged to consider donating online on the Food Bank’s website at any time throughout the festival as well.
2021 Oktoberfest Pin
Oktoberfest pins are a collectors’ item that you’ll often find decorating Oktoberfest hats or leiderhosen. Despite being a collector of many trinkets and doodads, Oktoberfest pins never caught my eye, until last year’s pin came out. With a nod to the latest fashion craze (re: masks) everyone has had to don during this pandemic, Onkel Hans sported his own too. This year, the 2021 Oktoberfest pays homage to our frontline health care workers and the Spirit of Gemütlichkeit. I now am the proud owner of 3 Oktoberfest pins (2020, 2021, and one from years back for no special reason).
The 2021 Oktoberfest Pin is $10 plus tax ($1.30) plus shipping. If you want to snag your own limited edition pin, visit this link to buy yours. A part of your purchase will be donated to the Oktoberfest Cares Funds to support the Grand River Hospital Foundation and the Onkel Hans Food Drive which partners with the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. PS, at the time of writing in mid-September the pins were already almost sold out!
Will you be attending KW Oktoberfest 2021?
One more thing to note that’s quite different about KW Oktoberfest 2021 is that the Oktoberfest castle is officially (and sadly) dismantled. It has been a part of the physical landscape of downtown Kitchener since 1969 and of the festivities for many decades. The shop is set to stay downtown and move into the former BMO building at the corner of King and Queen streets.
Will you be attending any of the events this year, online or in-person? If you’re from KW, what are your family’s and friends’ Oktoberfest traditions? If you’re from out of town, have you ever travelled here for it before?
To learn more about other events, history, and happenings in Waterloo Region, check out these blog posts.