By John Grossi
Photos Courtesy of Long Beach Oktobertest
Oktoberfest is back and bigger than ever! Spanning 4 weekends - 12 days in total - and ready to serve up more brats and beers than we can count.
With plenty of shade and cover, Long Beach’s most entertaining autumn event is on - rain or shine! Including a full band, sing-alongs, games, contests, costumes, and this year… even wiener dog races!
“We’re partnering up with the locally famous SoCal Weiner Fest races this year on all four Sundays,” said event organizer Brett Gallo. “Not only can you come out to watch the wiener dog races, but you can even enter your dog in the races or costume contests for a chance to win prizes.”
Starting September 29th, Long Beach Oktoberfest runs Friday through Sunday until October 22nd. Fridays start at 5pm with live music and are designated as 21+ nights. On Saturdays, the gates open from 12pm-10pm, offering a family-friendly event until 8pm, after which the venue converts to 21+. Sundays run from 12-7pm and are designated family days. Kids under 12 are always free.
It’s the Entertainment
There’s certainly a lot to do, eat, and drink at Long Beach Oktoberfest, but it’s the entertainment that has made this event so popular. Just 3 years after assuming the torch from Alpine Village, this local event has become Southern California’s premiere Oktoberfest.
“The show always starts about an hour after the gates open. So, if I could recommend anything to my fellow Long Beachers, the idea is to get there early and grab a good seat with a great view of the stage. The show is what truly sets us apart,” says organizer Brett Gallo.
On Friday and Saturday nights, frontman “Festmeister Hans” and his band “die Sauerkrauts” are back to provide world-class entertainment that combines music, humor, culture, history, costumes, and dance into one totally immersive show.
Originally a native of German Bavaria, Festmeister Hans has, for over a decade, been bringing laughter and delight to thousands of Southern Californians attending his Oktoberfest shows. Each performance brings an eclectic mix of Hans’ storytelling, traditional German polka music, modern pop music, humor, and of course group competitions and games.
Think you and your team have what it takes to win the traditional “Beer-Fest” style Das-Boot contest? That’s a crowd favorite featuring teams of five competing against each other to “down” beer the fastest for prizes and serious props from the crowd. There’s also the stein-hoisting contest, ring-toss, and more. All weaved between sing-alongs, dancing, and plentiful cries of “PROST,” which is German for “Cheers!”
Not to be outdone by Festmeister Hans (in name or performance), the entertaining German group
“Ladyhosen” will play during Saturday matinees to entertain the whole family (or kickoff your pregame for the nighttime show).
This is What Oktoberfest is All About Festmeister Hans likes to talk about the German word, Gemütlichkeit. “Gemütlichkeit doesn’t have a direct translation in English but the word ‘togetherness’ is close,” explains Festmeister Hans. “It’s a specific type of togetherness where you feel welcome, connected, and wonderful. Just like, you’re in the perfect place to be! There is a perfect sense of community, happiness, and comfort.”
For local entrepreneurs and event organizers Brett Gallo, Jim Ritson, and Shawn Ellis, it’s a meaningful accomplishment being able to bring such a large-scale, professional, and fun event into their hometown.
“Having been born and raised in Long Beach, and now to bring something so authentic to the city, has been such a joy,” said Gallo. “We have participants who have been to Europe for Oktoberfest and they say our event is the closest thing to actually being in Germany. The entertainment, food and drink, the fact that people aren’t on their phones but are talking to other people, singing, dancing, letting loose. It’s what Oktoberfest is supposed to be.”
This year, event hosts are thrilled to be serving one of Munich’s original fest-beers, Pauliner, which is brewed in limited quantities just once a year for Oktoberfest. About 75% of every keg being allotted to Southern California is headed straight to Long Beach Oktoberfest!
There will be other themed beers, both light and dark, as well as wine and, of course, non-alcoholic beverages. Expect all the German classics when it comes to food, including brats, sausages, potato salad, pretzels, sauerkraut, and more. As a family-friendly event, concessions will also offer plenty of kid-friendly food, snacks, and drinks.
NEW THIS YEAR: For the best experience, check out the upgraded VIP area, which has been majorly improved over last year. With the best seating in the house on a raised platform (for optimal viewing of the show), the VIP Experience comes at a set price of $150 and includes unlimited food and drinks for the night!
Long Beach Oktoberfest takes place at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Downtown Long Beach. There is a small parking lot; however, rideshare is strongly encouraged for those who plan to drink. To buy tickets and for more information, visit the website!