Everything you need to know about the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest & Thanksgiving Day Parade

Canada By Serra Pinto Avimlah Oct 2, 2023

Fall is in the air, which means it’s time for annual autumnal festivities like Canadian Thanksgiving and Oktoberfest. If you can’t make it out to Germany for the original Wiesn in Munich this year, you can partake in the next-best thing right here in Canada at the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest celebration! The K-W Oktoberfest also hosts the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is one of Canada’s largest parades. Get the facts about this annual fall tradition and learn what you need to know to get the best experience possible.

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What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is an annual Bavarian tradition that is celebrated in Munich, Germany. The original Oktoberfest took place in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Their wedding ceremony was so memorable that the people of Germany decided there doesn’t have to be another royal wedding to repeat the occasion every year. Today, Oktoberfest celebrations happen in major cities all around, spreading 200 years of joy and drinking to every corner of the world.

What’s so special about the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest?

Many of Canada’s large metropolitan areas, like Toronto and Vancouver, all have their own Oktoberfest celebrations. Although the Waterloo region isn’t quite as populous as the bigger cities, their Oktoberfest celebration firmly stands its ground. The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is not only the largest of its kind in Canada, but it’s also the second-largest one in the world! With 55 years of tradition in the making, the Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo promises a good time with more than enough cheers to go around.

The K-W Oktoberfest starts up at the end of September and goes until the middle of October. So don’t forget to grab your tickets!

What to know about the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest

If you’re looking to properly celebrate this iconic Bavarian tradition right here in Canada, the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is the way to go. Here are some things you should know before going for the first time:

1. Enjoy the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Oktoberfest occurs right around Canadian Thanksgiving. The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade is a highly anticipated event that’s fun for families and all festival attendees. With decorative floats, fun parade balloons, marching bands and more, there is something for everybody to enjoy. The 2023 parade will take place on October 9th and starts at 8:30 am at the corner of Webster Street East and Frederick Street.[1] Expect the parade to last about an hour and a half and try to go as early as possible to secure a good spot.

2. Plan your ride to and from the festival

Typical Oktoberfest celebrations consist of bratwursts, lots of polka music, and of course, beer. If you’re planning on having a few drinks at the festival, be sure to arrange a ride with someone or designate a non-drinking driver within your group. You can also book a ride using a rideshare app or utilise the Grand River Transit system and take a bus or ION light rail to the venue.

3. Do your Festhallen research

The K-W Oktoberfest features several different festival halls, or “festhalle” in German. Each festhalle offers something different and hosts its own events, giving every festgoer a chance to curate their own unique experiences. Choose from popular festhalles like the Concordia Club, Schwaben Club, Bingemans, and more to get the party started.

4. Go all out and wear a lederhosen or a dirndl

Oktoberfest is the one place where you can sport traditional German garb and fit right in. Lederhosen, or traditional leather breeches with suspenders, are typically worn by men at these festivals. Women like to wear classic dirndl dresses, which can come in many sizes and patterns. You can purchase or rent your own lederhosen or dirndl, but it’s perfectly acceptable to go in your normal street clothes as well.

5. Witness the annual Keg Tapping

The official Keg Tapping at the K-W Oktoberfest is one of the most monumental events out of the entire festival. This year, the Keg Tapping will take place on October 6th at noon in the Wilkommen Platz Biergarten. Prepare for lots of singing, chanting, and musical performances as downtown Kitchener slowly turns into a lively Bavarian village. The Keg Tapping is only a part of the four-day festivities at Wilkommen Platz, so be sure to check out the other events that are going on throughout the weekend.

Traveling to Ontario from outside of Canada? Use Western Union to send money ahead of time so you spend less time focusing on money exchanges and focus on the fun. Send money online, in the money transfer app, or find an agent location with Western Union.