It seemed cruel last year that we couldn’t enjoy the crisp, cold air together while sipping beers, gnawing on giant pretzels and enduring polka music.
Fortunately, this year’s crop of Oktoberfests isn’t quite so puny, and the fact that they’re all outside is good news in this dicey era of public health. Some started last weekend, or even in late August, when many of us were still in a summer mindset. But there are many more on tap.
Here’s a sampling of these family-friendly, fall events — many of them free (see this link for haunted houses and corn mazes). Be sure to mask up, and check with each event to see if they require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry.
The 51st Denver Oktoberfest promises better music production, shorter lines and seamless payment for its array of foods, beers, seltzers and Cutwater cocktails this year. While it doesn’t feature the tongue-in-cheek 5K of years past, it does have keg bowling, a marketplace, stein hoisting, 30-plus bands and long-dog (Dachshund) racing. The fest continues Friday, Sept. 24-Sunday, Sept. 26, along Larimer Street between Market and Lawrence Streets, and 21st Street between 20th and 22nd streets. Wristbands are $15-$65. denveroktoberfest.com
Longmont Oktoberfest takes over Roosevelt Park on Saturday, Sept. 25, with, appropriately, a hearty showing by local producer Left Hand Brewing, but also 10 other breweries, distilleries and cideries. Drinks and German-themed food and festivities — including contests for best-dressed, stein-holding, and bratwurst-eating — complement the mix of rock, bluegrass and other genres on the live-music stage. Entry is $10-$35. lhbfoundation.org/longmont-oktoberfest
Colorado Springs Oktoberfest takes place Sept. 24-26 at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry with traditional food and drink, live bands, the ever-popular weiner dog races, retail vendors, and contests for stein hosting and best costumes. Admission is free, but tickets are required for the beer school, schnapps school and wine-tasting events. $10 parking. csoktoberfest.com
Greeley’s Oktobrewfest is a treat for fans of Colorado breweries, distilleries and more. The Sept. 24-25 event in downtown Greeley’s Lincoln Park will have a dozen-plus local drinks on tap, polka and jazz music, and dancers, along with a children’s area on Saturday, Sept. 25 featuring inflatables, bubbles, and pumpkin and face painting. Admission is free, and a VIP tent (which has sold each of the nine years it’s been offered) will have specialty brews, a tasting contest and food for $40 per ticket. greeleydowntown.com and evenbrite.com
Estes Park’s Autumn Gold Festival is yet another reason to visit this gorgeous town on the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park, and the timing of it typically means fewer out-of-state tourists. Known as a festival of beer, brats and bands, Autumn Gold, Sept. 25-26 at Bond Park, includes live music, a classic-car show, kid’s activities, and free shuttles to the Rails in the Rockies model train show across town. Free entry. estesparkautumngold.com
Brecktoberfest helps transition the skiing and tourist destination of Breckenridge into the winter months, Sept. 24-26, along Main Street. The ticketed event costs $50 per-person, per three-hour session, at the Riverwalker Center. The cost includes a half-liter stein, two drink tickets, and access to performances, Bavarian food vendors and German hammer games. However, no reservations or tickets are needed to visit the free, Fall Family Fair, which runs 1-6 p.m. daily in the Creative Arts District. breckenridgeoktoberfest.com
In addition to these biggies there are Oktoberfests coming up in La Veta and Berthoud (Oct. 2) and Montrose (Oct. 9) — although events in Pueblo, Durango, Ouray and other towns appear to have been canceled for 2021.
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