A guide to celebrating Oktoberfest in the Netherlands
It may only be mid-September, but the fabled Oktoberfest begins this week in Munich. A 16-day festival, the largest funfair in the world attracts more than 6 million (!) visitors each year.
Rooted in Bavarian culture, the run-up to the first weekend of October was originally a celebration honouring the marriage between Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1810). The following year an agricultural showcase was added in the name of Bavarian pride and since 1887 the renowned breweries became a staple at the event.
The modern form, taking place since 1950, is now best known for the traditional Bavarian outfits, indulging in distinctly German cuisine and consuming mass amounts of beer in legendary tents.
Although the relationship between the Dutch and the Germans has always been a bit frigid, there are still plenty of ways to get your Oktoberfest fix right here in the Netherlands.
Have a look at our guide on where to eat, drink, dress and party in honour of Oktoberfest!
German cuisine in the Netherlands
With enduring historical tensions, there isn’t a whole lot to choose from when it comes to German restaurants in the Netherlands. However, the few that do exist offer some German charm and a quality schnitzel.
Amsterdam, surprisingly, has the most choice when it comes to German eats. Café Marie on Marie Heinekenplein takes the Bavarian theme and runs with it, serving up currywurst, turkey schnitzel and wiener schnitzel to be washed down with some Berlin beloved Club-Mate or Paulaner.
Café Brecht, just around the corner, also embraces the better characteristics of our Eastern neighbours in the form of a Berlin-style living room café. With mismatched furniture and a 1920s décor, the café is full of atmosphere and German brews: Berliner, Rothaus, Augustiner and Weihenstephan, to name a few.
If fried food is what you’re craving, head to Wurst & Schnitzelhaus on the Prinsengracht for some top-notch krakauer, sauerkraut and various sausages and schnitzels.
For that real German atmosphere, head to Kartoffel in Utrecht. With the wall full of posters and beer signs from the East, the food is a creative blend of the meat and potato diet needed for long winters.
In Eindhoven, Radio Royaal offers a rarely seen (but underappreciated) French-German fusion menu in a former Philips energy plant. Exposed ceilings and raw decor only add to the post-industrial feel.
Dark wooden ceilings, long benches, German text on the wall and a mountain lodge vibe give Tiroler Stuberl in Zaandvoort a cosy Bavarian touch. Summer or winter, stop by for a quick casual home-made schnitzel!
Oktoberfest beer in the Netherlands
The beer is what makes Oktoberfest. Thanks to strict regulations, the type and brand of what can be served in the major tents in Munich is limited, with a type of brew known as Märzen being the go-to choice for decades.
A bit stronger than a typical lager or pilsner, the Märzens must be brewed in Munich to be deemed suitable for Oktoberfest.
This means that there are six major brewers eligible to produce Oktoberfest Beer: Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Spatenbräu and Hofbräu. While some of these are major exporters, others will be more difficult to find at your average shop.
Your best bet to drink like a German is to visit a beer specialty shop that will most certainly have at least a couple of the Oktoberfest variants. In Amsterdam, the Bierkoning is the go-to source for German beers and has a healthy selection of the above brands.
In Utrecht, Bert’s Bierhuis does an outstanding job of keeping specialty brews in stock. Not a large space, but the selection is expertly curated and even includes the famous Hofbräu Oktoberfest.
Rotterdammers are blessed by the presence of Bier en Zo. Not only do they stock a great selection, but they also have special Oktoberfest and German packs prepared for those who want to taste test.
Oktoberfest outfits go Dutch
The outfits most often associated with Oktoberfest are traditional Bavarian dress. For men, this includes a pair of lederhosen, a white button up shirt, knee high white socks and leather shoes. Invest in a tracht with a bit goat hair and the look is complete!
The ladies have it a bit more complicated as they will typically dawn what’s known as a dirndl and includes a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron. Pair it with high stockings and some leather shoes to finish the look.
Real lederhosen and dirndls can be quite expensive. For genuine pieces, look to the German-based retailer Alpen Wahnsinn. As most of us will not be looking to break the bank, try the more novel Oktoberfestwinkel, Lederhosenland or Oktoberfest Dirndl Shop to get costume versions of the real thing.
Marktplaats also tends to be full of the traditional outfits when Oktoberfest rolls around, so keep an eye out for discounts. Think of the purchase as killing two birds with one stone; Halloween is just around the corner!
Oktoberfest parties around the Netherlands
Of course, the pinnacle of Oktoberfest celebrations are the parties.
In the Netherlands, the more major celebrations will be taking place in the southern and eastern cities of the country.
Although the locations and dates vary, the essence remains the same: these parties revolve around drinking beer in a tent. It may not be Hofbräu or Paulaner, but in such mass quantities, a solid Heineken or Hertog Jan will suffice.
Get on your lederhosen, tuck in your dirndl, dance to the sounds of the brass bands and give a Prost! to the Germans!
› Oktoberfest Rotterdam
-Date: September 26-27
-Where: Biergarten, Schiestraat 18
-City & Price: Rotterdam | 18 euro
› Oktoberfest De Boterwaag
-Date: October 2-5
-Where: Grote Markt
-City & Price: The Hague | Free
› Brabants Oktoberfest
-Date: October 4
-City & Price: Eindhoven | 29,50 euro
› Bacchanaal - Oktoberfest
-Date: October 4
-Where: Roest, Czaar Peterstraat 213
-City & Price: Amsterdam | 4 euro
› Oktoberfest Heerenveen
-Date: October 25
-Where: Gemeenteplein Heerenveen
-City & Price: Heerenveen | 32,50 euro
› Oktoberfest Graauw
-Date: October 25
-Where: Voetbalvelden Graauw
-City & Price: Graauw | 11 euro
› Oktoberfest Tilburg
-Date: October 30 - November 2
-Where: Koepelhal, NS-Plein
-City & Price: Tilburg | 17,50 euro
› Oktoberfest Breda
-Date: October 30 - November 1
-Where: Parkeerterrein P5
-City & Price: Breda | 13,50-19,50 euro
› De Nijmeegse Oktoberfeesten
-Date: October 31 - November 2
-Where: Grote Markt
-City & Price: Nijmegen | 12,50 euro