Americans have much to thank the Germans for: BMW, bratwursts and hard syllables for letting off steam, for instance. Another of the Germans’ most famous contributions to our society is Oktoberfest, a weeks-long festival with beer as one of its centerpieces.
Oktoberfest often lasts from mid-September to the first Sunday in October. It originated in early 19th century Munich. It was only a matter of time before the Oktoberfest madness would find its way to U.S. soil, where nearly 45 million German-Americans make up the largest single ethnic group. A typical Oktoberfest in the U.S. includes many varieties of beer, live music, folk dancing, German fare and elaborate parades. Some American cities have even added their own traditions, like the “Running of the Wieners” race in Cincinnati or “Keg Bowling” in Denver.
To help you prepare for this epic German festival, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on 24 indicators of Oktoberfest-friendliness. Read on to see if you live in one of them. For more fun and interesting facts about this exciting event, make sure to check out our Oktoberfest Facts – History, Beer, Food and More infographic
Best Places for Oktoberfest Celebrations
Overall Rank (1 = Best)
‘Oktoberfest Traditions’ Rank
‘Safety & Accessibility’ Rank
|1||New York, NY||60.10||1||91||3|
|6||Las Vegas, NV||56.34||8||44||16|
|12||San Francisco, CA||53.31||6||84||13|
|14||San Diego, CA||52.79||14||78||5|
|17||St. Louis, MO||51.42||11||74||51|
|22||Colorado Springs, CO||48.96||28||47||19|
|26||Fort Wayne, IN||48.54||38||7||38|
|27||New Orleans, LA||48.43||29||51||22|
|31||St. Paul, MN||47.12||24||66||45|
|32||Los Angeles, CA||47.12||25||60||53|
|40||Oklahoma City, OK||44.47||65||2||82|
|43||San Antonio, TX||44.27||58||10||65|
|52||Jersey City, NJ||43.14||54||95||1|
|60||St. Petersburg, FL||41.24||48||77||60|
|66||El Paso, TX||40.37||66||62||36|
|67||Long Beach, CA||40.26||67||85||11|
|71||Fort Worth, TX||39.22||73||43||70|
|72||Virginia Beach, VA||39.18||77||67||30|
|78||Kansas City, MO||37.99||74||72||68|
|84||Corpus Christi, TX||36.43||84||15||72|
|87||Santa Ana, CA||35.36||97||64||12|
|91||North Las Vegas, NV||33.60||85||70||79|
|92||Chula Vista, CA||33.36||92||88||24|
|94||San Jose, CA||32.68||80||89||59|
|97||Baton Rouge, LA||29.07||94||71||97|
|100||San Bernardino, CA||24.50||91||96||95|
As with any other holiday celebration, heavy Oktoberfest partying can be harmful — and not just to a person’s wallet. For tips on budgeting, safety and hosting a citywide Oktoberfest celebration, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What tips do you have for celebrating Oktoberfest on a budget?
- In evaluating the best cities for celebrating Oktoberfest, what are the top five indicators?
- What are some social and economic considerations for cities looking to host Oktoberfest celebrations?
- How can local authorities promote safety and reduce alcohol-related accidents during Oktoberfest?
Ask the Experts
To determine the best cities for Oktoberfest celebrations, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated U.S. cities across three key dimensions: 1) Oktoberfest Traditions, 2) Costs and 3) Safety & Accessibility.
We evaluated those dimensions using 24 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best conditions for celebrating Oktoberfest. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Oktoberfest Traditions – Total Points: 50
- Presence of Oktoberfest Festivals: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Oktoberfest Festivals & Parties per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Time Since the First Oktoberfest Festival: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric measures the difference between 2019 and the year when the city's first Oktoberfest festival was held.
- Share of German Population: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Breweries per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Average Open Hours of Breweries: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric measures the average of the first 10 most rated breweries’ closing hours.
- Beer Gardens per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Bar Accessibility: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: This metric is based on a grade that combines “bars per capita*” (measures availability) and “bars per square mile” (measures proximity).
- Beer, Wine & Spirits Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- German Restaurants per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Pretzel Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Google Search Traffic for “Oktoberfest”: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: Google search volume reflects the frequency of Google searches for the term “Oktoberfest” in each metro area, relative to the national average, according to Google trends.
Costs – Total Points: 25
- Average Price for Oktoberfest Celebration Ticket: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- Average Beer Price: Triple Weight (~9.38 Points)
Note: This metric measures both the price of a domestic beer (0.5 liter draught) and the price of a 6-pack Heineken (12 oz. containers), excluding any deposit.
- Average Sausage Price: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
Note: This metric was used as a proxy for average wurst price.
- Lowest Price for Three-Star Hotel Room: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- Prevalence of Affordable Breweries Rated 4+ Stars: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
- Prevalence of Affordable German Restaurants Rated 4+ Stars: Full Weight (~3.13 Points)
Safety & Accessibility – Total Points: 25
- Crime Rate: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- DUI-Related Fatalities per Capita: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Note: The average between September and October fatalities was used to calculate this metric.
- Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Walkability (Pedestrian Friendliness): Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Access to Public Transportation: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Note: This metric measures specifically the share of commuters who use public transit.
- Acres of Parkland per 1,000 Residents: Half Weight (~2.27 Points)
Note: Oktoberfest takes place outside and underneath the cover of large tents. Large public park spaces and fairgrounds allow more room for the celebration.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Google Trends, INRIX, Funtober, Eventbrite, Yelp, Numbeo, Council for Community and Economic Research, The Trust for Public Land, Kayak and Walk Score.
Image: Romrodphoto / Shutterstock.com