Summer is quickly coming to a close, and as the autumn season approaches, harvest festivals abound and Oktoberfests are usually being celebrated left and right.
Cleveland is no exception. Oktoberfest in Cleveland is the largest annual outdoor event in the city, with a lot of great food, music, and, of course, German beer.
And, while Cleveland’s Oktoberfest was cancelled this year, it’s never too early to plan your adventures for next year – or even find ways to celebrate the season at home in your own way!
This is the ultimate guide on how to celebrate Oktoberfest in Cleveland.
Everything you need to know about Cleveland Oktoberfest
When is Cleveland Oktoberfest?
In Germany, where Oktoberfest originated, the festival isn’t just celebrated for a few days. In Munich in Bavaria, Oktoberfest lasts more than two weeks, usually running from mid-September to the first Sunday in October.
In Cleveland, Oktoberfest is celebrated over Labor Day weekend. The dates for 2021 are September 3-6.
Where is Oktoberfest in Cleveland?
Oktoberfest takes place on the Cuyahoga County Fair Grounds at 19201 East Bagley Road, Middleburg Heights, OH 44130.
Things to do at Oktoberfest in Cleveland
There are a TON of events going on during Cleveland’s Oktoberfest in Ohio. Here are the main things that you shouldn’t miss during your time at Oktoberfest.
1. Enjoy Live Music and Entertainment
Between the Paulaner Tent, Bier Garten, Hacker-Pschorr Tent, and the International Pavilion, there are polka bands, German dance groups, and other live music to enjoy.
2. Drink Beer
I mean this is obvious, but there is nothing like sitting in the Paulaner Tent or Bier Garten with a traditional German beer and listening to the live performances.
3. Eat European Food
Sausages, schnitzels, pretzels, and even classic Cleveland pierogies are on the menu at Oktoberfest Cleveland.
4. Races and Contests
Join in on the Oktoberfest 5k Rainbow Run that usually takes place on Labor Day, weiner dog racing, Masskrugstemmen German Strong Man Competition, Miss Oktoberfest, or the Best Oktoberfest Microbrew Competition.
5. Listen for the Cleveland Glockenspiel
This clock-like stage goes “off” on the hour with music starting up from the clock. Watch the performers sing, dance, and perform skits on the largest glockenspiel in the US.
6. Arts and Crafts
There is also an arts and crafts market selling everything from jewelry to paintings and so much more!
7. Watch the Marionette Theatre
The Frisch Marionette Company puts on a delightful puppet show for the kids during Cleveland Oktoberfest.
Full the full event details, visit the Cleveland Oktoberfest site.
What beer should you drink at Oktoberfest?
German beer, of course!
In all seriousness, though, there are a lot of traditional German beers to choose from. Some beers to check out include Paulaner’s Hefeweizen, Oktoberfest Marzen, Munich Lager, or Salvator. Then try some Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest or Dark beers, and definitely try the local microbrews on offer during the Oktoberfest Microbrew Competition.
If beer isn’t your thing, then Jagermeister is available as well as Schloss Zell German wine. And, if you prefer not to drink alcohol, Wild Bill’s Root Beer, lemonade, and Coke products are for sale, too.
How much time should I spend at Oktoberfest Cleveland?
That all depends on you, but one full day is plenty of time to see the main attractions and enjoy the delights of this celebration. If there are specific events you wish to attend, then make those days a priority for when you go.
Tickets for the event sell as 2-day passes. So, your ticket purchase covers any 2 days of the event. If you prefer to go for the duration of the event, then you’d have to purchase 2 tickets.
How Much Does it Cost to Attend Cleveland’s Oktoberfest?
2021 Cleveland Oktoberfest tickets start at $18 online (plus a $1.25 service fee), or are $30 at the event. This is a 2-day pass for any 2 days during the event.
If you would like the Oktoberfest in a Box including a t-shirt, stein, and the 2-day pass, it is $48 plus a $6.75 service and shipping fee.
Lastly, for the VIP ticket including 1-day admission with exclusive access to the Jagermeister VIP Tent, beverage wristband, VIP access to the Bier Garten, and more, it is $70 online ($2 service fee) or $85 at the event.
How to celebrate Oktoberfest on your own in Cleveland
So while you’ve got all of the information to plan the perfect visit to Cleveland Oktoberfest in 2021, what about this year?
This event is cancelled for 2020, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your own ways to enjoy the Oktoberfest season in Cleveland. With German breweries and restaurants, there are ample ways to find the spirit of the famous Germany Oktoberfest without going to the actual event.
Best German restaurants and breweries in Cleveland
If you’re craving the traditional bratwursts and German beers that are ever present at Oktoberfests worldwide, then you’ll definitely want to check out these restaurants and breweries in Cleveland.
1550 Chester Ave., Cleveland (Downtown)
Hofbrauhaus is the next best thing to actually going to Oktoberfest itself. With people standing on benches and swinging liters of beer as they bob side to side singing along with the polka band and servers dressed in their best lederhosen and dirndls, you can experience the feeling of Oktoberfest year-round.
Modeled after the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich, this place aims to mimic the 400-year old beer hall from its decor to its beer. Following the Bavarian Beer Purity Law from 1516, their beers are brewed with only 4 ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast.
As far as what to order at Hofbrauhaus, their Dunkel, Hefeweizen, and Lager are always great beers. They also have a seasonal beer on tap, as well as the Hopfen Special, or brewer’s special. No matter which beer you choose, ordering a liter of it is a must!
For food, I recommend the pretzels with bier cheese, potato pancakes, bratwurst on a bun, wurstplatte with Vienna style frankfurter, pork sausages, chicken sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and some schnitzel.
They also have a large bier garten outside that is perfect for the lovely autumn weather, and definitely one of the best patios to visit in Cleveland!
2. Der Braumeister
13046 Lorain Ave., Cleveland (Jefferson)
Known as Cleveland’s oldest and most authentic German restaurant and bier garten, this place is serving traditional Bavarian food with an American twist. They serve 40 German beers, 30 Belgian beers, and several American craft brews as well!
To get in the Oktoberfest spirit in Cleveland, I recommend ordering the Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen or Hofbrau Oktoberfest on tap, or any of their many other German beers.
For delicious food, check out their German potato salad, potato pancake reuben, or even chicken paprikash.
3. Das Schnitzel House
5728 Pearl Rd., Parma
With an American take on European-inspired cuisine and another great bier garten, this is the place in Parma for Oktoberfest.
Order up a German beer like Paulaner or Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen and some curry wurst (spicy sausage with curry sauce), one of their many schnitzels or spaetzles, or a bratwurst sandwich and enjoy it out in their bier garten!
4. Hansa Brewery
2717 Lorain Ave., Cleveland (Ohio City)
Last, but certainly not least, is Hansa. This brewery serves up its own take on German beer as well as food. Plus, there is a specialty German shop next door called Hansa Import Haus that sells everything from German candies (like Haribo and Kinder bars) to German sausages, beers, and wines.
You’ll definitely love sitting out on their patio on a nice day as you sip their own German-inspired brews like the Femdom Kolsch, J.U.G. Weiss Beer (wheat beer), or a Black Flag Schwarzbier (a dark brown German lager).
If you’re hungry, be sure to snag a sausage platter, wiener schnitzel, or hackbraten (German meatloaf), and save room for homemade cherry strudel for dessert!
Other breweries making Oktoberfest-style beers in Cleveland
There certainly are some fantastic German restaurants and beer halls in Cleveland, but if you prefer to celebrate Oktoberfest either at a brewery or at home, luckily there are several Cleveland breweries selling their own German beers!
Be sure to pick up a pack of these beers to enjoy Oktoberfest in Cleveland:
- Great Lakes Brewing Company: Oktoberfest, Dortmunder Gold, Lemon Hefeweizen, Bierwolf Dunkelweizen, and Kolsch.
- Masthead Brewing Company: Oktoberfest Marzen, Augenblick Light Lager, and It’s Raining Bock.
- Saucy Brew Works: Festbier Oktoberfest.
- Bookhouse Brewing: Heretic Brewing Helles and Jacob Hefeweizen.
- Southern Tier: Cleveland Bocks Doppelbock and Schwarzbier.
- Noble Beast Brewing Company: Oktoberfest.
- Collision Bend Brewing Company: Kolsch, Riverfest Marzen, and All Star Lager Helles.
- Goldhorn Brewery: Polka City Pilsner and Kleveland Kolsh.
- Forest City Brewery: Lally Cooler Maibock and Berg-a-Horn Bock.
- Market Garden Brewery: Progress Pilsner, Old Zahm Oktoberfest, Pumpernickel Zwickel, Dyngus Weizen, and #Kolsh.
Most breweries in and around the Cleveland area have some sort of German beer on tap this time of year or are selling it in stores. So, pick some up and throw your own Oktoberfest celebration!
As a bonus, put on an Oktoberfest playlist on Spotify or Pandora and pretend you’re celebrating Oktoberfest in your living room! This playlist is a great place to start, and includes songs that are traditionally played in the beer tents in Munich.
Here are some tips for how to throw an Oktoberfest of your own at home, care of a friend of ours who’s an Oktoberfest expert:
- How to Throw an Oktoberfest Party at Home: 5 Easy Steps to a Mock Munich
- How to Decorate for an Oktoberfest Party: Authentic, Non-Cheesy Ideas
- 15 Oktoberfest Party Foods To Get You In the Bierfest Mood
The spirit of Oktoberfest season is upon us in Cleveland, and there are some incredible ways to celebrate. Whether it is cracking open an Oktoberfest beer from a local brewery or dancing to polka at Cleveland Oktoberfest in 2021, you’ll enjoy the charms of this German celebration right here in Ohio. Prost!
What is your favorite thing to do to celebrate Oktoberfest in Cleveland?
Kat is a Cleveland transplant and has lived here for over 5 years. She loves to eat, drink, and explore all across the city, and has made it her personal mission to find the best breweries and pizza in Northeast Ohio. She also runs a couples travel blog and podcast called World Wide Honeymoon.