Philadelphia celebrates an Oktoberfest of its own

German festivities a part of various locations in Philly.

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Oktoberfest in Munich is the most famous beer festival. The rich history of the event traces back to the 1800s and has gotten bigger every year since. The festival attracts millions.

Despite the name, Oktoberfest traditionally takes place the third weekend in September and ends the first Sunday of October.

For those that want to celebrate Oktober in October, Philadelphia offers its own festival revolving around the German tradition.

Oktoberfest is back in Philly.

“Lots of lederhosen, pints of beer and tents the size of mansions – it’s like a huge carnival,” Stephanie Fanelli, a senior at Temple, said of her experience with the authentic Oktoberfest in Germany she attended while studying abroad last fall.

“The beer girls can carry 12 beers at a time to tables and the first person to chug their beer has to then stand up and hold the glass over their head to show it is completely empty,” Fanelli said about the Oktoberfest traditions she encountered abroad,” Finelli said.

Philadelphia’s Oktoberfest may not be on as large of a scale, but it does incorporate the carnival feeling through Midtown Village’s Fall Festival, taking place Oct. 6 from noon to 7 p.m.

Midtown Village Merchants Association, which manages the festival, is a group of businesses in the 13th Street area that formed an alliance in 2006.

This year will mark the eighth annual festival hosted on 13th Street from Chestnut to Locust streets. The addition of Chestnut Street in the festival is new this year.

Vendors will be set up along the streets selling crafts, food and drinks. Restaurants, shops and bars through the blocks will also partake in the celebrations and host Oktoberfest-themed events and specials.

The spirit of Oktoberfest has inspired Philadelphia’s oldest Irish bar, McGillin’s Olde Ale House located on Drury Street, to change heritage for a day.

“We expect somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 people to attend,” Chris Mullins, general manager at McGillin’s Olde Ale House, said. We embrace that whole culture of beer drinking, whether you are Irish or German.”

McGillin’s has been a part of the festival since its inception.

“It has become the busiest day of our year. Bigger than St. Patrick’s Day and bigger than New Years Day,” Mullins said. “For the Fall Festival this year we will close off Drury Street, tent it, decorate it in Oktoberfest style, and serve some mainly local German style beers, have karaoke outside and have a big party.”

Some of the local beers that will be available are Yuengling’s Oktoberfest, Lancaster’s Oktoberfest, Flying Fish’s OktoberFish and Sly Fox’s Oktoberfest Lager. International Oktoberfest beers will also be available.

Drury Street will transform into one of two beer gardens popping up for the festival. The other will be on St. James Street at Smokin’ Betty’s where specially priced BBQ will be offered.

McGillin’s, however, will stick to serving authentic German food at the festival.

“We will have our German sausage platter and we do jagerschnitzel – [that is where we] take a nice piece of pork loin and pound it down until it is nice and tender and it’s breaded and lightly fried, and then we serve it with awesome mushroom gravy,” Mullins said. “It’s served with a German potato salad and some cabbage.”

Sinead Cummings can be reached at

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