As if you didn't need another reason to visit Leavenworth, fall is fast approaching and the community is gearing up for its annual Oktoberfest celebration. This year, the festivities are taking place on the first three Fridays and Saturdays of October: the 5th and 6th, 12th and 13th, and 19th and 20th.
With thousands of attendees from around the region and beyond expected to descend on the town, Leavenworth's Oktoberfest is an unmatched event that must be experienced to get the best of Bavaria without traveling there to celebrate.
Leavenworth's Oktoberfest celebration, far and away the biggest and most complex event of its kind in any American town, and would make any Bavarian proud. The 2012 edition will feature four eating, drinking and performance venues, musical acts from three different countries, and a weekly Saturday parade that culminates in a ceremonial keg tapping at the Festhalle main venue.
The city of Leavenworth plans to operate a shuttle service to neighboring towns within a 20-mile radius and supplementary shuttles for hire beyond that radius.
2012 Leavenworth Oktoberfest tickets, which are priced starting at $10 for Friday evening privileges and $20 for all-day Saturday passes, go on sale during the first week of September. Groups of 20 or more can purchase tickets in advance at a 50 percent discount.
Shuttle services are free within Leavenworth's city limits and gradually increase in price in outlying areas, running anywhere from $5 per person for a 5-mile ride to $10 per person for a 20-mile ride. There may also be tour bus service available from Seattle.
To keep things simple, food and drink prices are constant throughout the festival area. Full steins of beer run $5, glasses of wine cost $4, and full meat-and-sides dinner plates cost $8. A la carte meats, including brats, barbecue chicken, ribs and pulled pork, cost $5 each and exist in virtually unlimited quantities.
If you have not already done so, book your accommodations as far in advance as possible as otherwise Wenatchee, 25 minutes away may be your best bet. The weather in Leavenworth in October is typically pleasant during the day but can be chilly in the evening, with beautiful fall foliage.
Leavenworth's Oktoberfest runs from 6 pm until 1 am on Friday nights and 12 pm to 1 am on Saturday, although Saturday drinks aren't officially served until after the 1 pm keg tapping ceremony.
Eight different varieties of beer, mostly German imports like Warsteiner and Paulaner, are slated to be served at the event. California's Alpine Brewing Company, best known for their McIlhenny's Irish Red brew, will represent domestic brewing know-how.
In the spirit of traditional German Oktoberfest celebrations, Leavenworth is throwing open its doors to celebrants of all ages this year. Although anyone who's not of legal drinking age must leave the festival grounds by 9 pm each night, there are plenty of family-friendly activities scheduled during the afternoon and early evening hours.
The centerpiece of Leavenworth's family fun zone is a "Kinderplatz," a set-off area with clowns, magicians, an array of inflatable bouncing equipment and even a safe climbing wall.