The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is set to kick off on Friday, Sept 24 at noon with their opening ceremonies, the start of the 18-day festival.
This year’s celebrations will be a mix of online festivities and small in-person gatherings. Due to the pandemic, schedules for many in-person events can not be released to the public, including The WunderWagen. This attraction is a travelling stage that can appear anywhere in Waterloo Region.
Alfred Lowrick, executive director of Oktoberfest, is excited to see the turnout from this attraction.
“It’s going to be in a mix of restaurant parking lots, residential areas, some malls, outside,” Lowrick said. “It’s an outdoor event.”
Another expected popular attraction will be the Festhallen and Micro-Festhallen. The Micro-Festhallen are restaurants all around the Waterloo Region which have Oktoberfest-themed parts of their menu. The Festhallen locations are at many clubs around the region, the biggest being at Bingemans. Local public health restrictions must be followed at all locations.
“They will be pandemic focused, mostly you’ll see them as Biergarten’s. They’re outside events, outside venues where people will see bands playing and people enjoying food and drinks,” Lowrick said.
These events are expected to be the most appealing among the college crowd.
“Getting together with friends and having some beverages, some food, and connecting,” Lowrick said. “Now that being said they’re going to be somewhat limited this year.”
The Waterloo Region International Airport will host the opening ceremonies for a second straight year. This was an invite-only event, but spectators can witness the ceremonies on CTV News or Oktoberfest’s live stream.
The airport is excited to be holding the ceremonies and hopes to be able to in the future.
“It’s a great way we can support the community and be a part of one of the major events here in the region,” said Caroline Rose, supervisor of marketing and communications at the airport.
One large part of Oktoberfest that is missing due to COVID-19 is their annual parade. CTV News will be broadcasting the best of past parades on Oct 11 from 12 p.m. till 1 p.m.
“Taking interviews and street scenes from the past 50 years of Oktoberfest parades,” Lowrick said. “It’ll be completely different from last year’s.”
Some ways you can get involved in the community but participate in events include the Oktoberfest Cares 50/50 raffle, which supports local front-line workers. The Onkel Hans Food Drive raises money for the food bank. They will also be accepting food donations.
“A lot of focus on diversity, equity, and inclusivity,” Lowrick said.
The Bavarian festival is looking to be a hit this year, even with some restrictions making things difficult. They hope to be back in full form next year and planning has already begun.