Harvard Square Oktoberfest and HONK! Parade

Bill Manley 

Greater Boston is traditionally known as a hub of Irish-American culture: the Celtics, the Kennedys, the pubs called Murphy’s and Doyle’s and Clery’s. It may come as a surprise, then, that Beantown is in fact a great place for enjoying a very German celebration: Oktoberfest. Every year, venues around the metropolitan area put their own spin on the beer-centric festival (Boston does love its beer, after all), complete with steins and pretzels and lederhosen. Here are three spots to hit for this year’s festivities.

Where to Eat: Bronwyn


© Eric Wolfinger

Located in trendy Somerville just outside Boston proper, chef Tim Wiechmann’s restaurant specializes in German and central European fare. Wiechmann certainly knows his stuff—he cooked his schnitzel on season two of Beat Bobby Flay and, well beat Bobby Flay—and he’s going all out for Oktoberfest with a special Bavarian menu, available only from September 29th until October 11th:  think: haxe, weisswurst, dampfnudeln, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and more. “For us,” says Wiechmann, “it’s a super fun spin off. Take the schnitzel sandwich—on a pretzel roll with obatzda (paprika-spiced Munster cheese) and onions—or the beer soup, a sweet sour yellow bisque thickened with egg yolks.” Perhaps the most impressive part of the restaurant’s ode to October? Co-owner Bronwyn Wiechmann (Tim’s wife and the restaurant’s namesake) will be importing and serving every single beer available at the Oktoberfest celebration in Munich. 

Where to Drink: Harpoon Octoberfest

Harpoon Octoberfest

Harpoon Brewery

This Seaport District brewery has been hosting its own Oktoberfest celebration for over two decades now, and it seems to grow more festive every year. Set under massive tents on the brewery property, the popular 21+ event features local food vendors, German Oompah bands, eating and dancing contests, and a range of great beer offerings brewed right there on the premises. Harpoon’s IPA is a must-drink, and their Octoberfest seasonal is one of the best fall beers out there. Try it with one of the brewery’s homemade pretzels, made using spent grain and boiled in IPA. Dip in Harpoon Ale mustard. Fri, Oct 02, 2015, 5:30pm – 11:00pm (Doors close: 9:00PM) and Sat, Oct 03, 2015, 1:00pm – 7:00pm (Doors close: 5:30PM) 

Where to Take the Family: Harvard Square Oktoberfest and HONK! Parade

Harvard Square Oktoberfest and HONK! Parade

Bill Manley

“Think of a musician with a 12-inch pink Mohawk, tattoos, and piercings, wearing a bustier and playing the horn upside down. That’s pretty typical of our performers,” says Denise Jillson, the executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association. Yes, this is the family-friendly festival. Every year, on the Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend, the HONK! Music parade marches along Mass. Ave. in Cambridge and pours into Harvard Square’s Oktoberfest celebration (you can see pictures from last year here), giving birth to a unique, funky festival typically attended by some 200,000 people. Plenty of pretzels and biergartens give the celebration its Oktoberfest feel, but what sets it apart is its variety and scope: around 50 food vendors line the streets, cooking up everything from Thai food to barbecue. Local craftsmen, artists, jewelers and clothiers hawk their products, and children ride toy trains or get their faces painted.  And that music. Stay all day and listen to bands perform on the six stages around the festival. October 11, 12:00pm – 6:00pm.

Chris Abell is a web producer and contributing writer at Travel+Leisure. You can follow him on Instagram at @buildingflavors.