In Breckenridge, Colo., autumn is the season for cooler temperatures, brilliant fall colors and, come the third weekend in September, Breckenridge Oktoberfest. The tradition of hosting the October-named event one month early traces back to the original party in Munich, Germany, where weather contributed to moving the festivities into September. It’s ideal timing for Breck, which sees the peak of fall foliage right in time for Oktoberfest.
“Oktoberfest is a rite of fall in Breckenridge,” said Sandy Metzger, events director for the Breckenridge Resort Chamber. “Locals come out to celebrate the season and repeat visitors travel from across the country to volunteer and join the party.”
The fest begins Friday evening with the Paulaner Brewmaster’s Dinner, a multi-course beer pairing event at the Salt Creek Steakhouse in downtown Breckenridge. It’s no secret that the traditional German menu leaves big appetites and discriminating palates more than satisfied – the dinner typically sells out in advance. Hand-picked wine selections offer an alternative for those who prefer vino and by the end of the evening, diners leave with new friends and big plans for the weekend on Main Street.
The street party on Saturday and Sunday combines German traditions – oompah music, Bavarian dancers, Paulaner bier and more – with Breck-style offerings including a 5k run, children’s activities and free bike parking. Commemorative steins each year feature a different artist and production beginning four months earlier allows travelers to sip from the real thing: each stein is manufactured and shipped from Munich, Germany.
Like many of the country’s most popular events, Breckenridge Oktoberfest continues to grow. To make things more comfortable, the party is now taking over more space on Main Street. The idea? Bring a beer garden vibe to each town block.
“The extra room allows us to bring in more tables and chairs, which lets festival-goers sit down and relax,” said Metzger. “Walking through the street and sampling all the great food is part of the event, but it’s also nice to have the option to sit back and enjoy a beer with friends.”
Those not so ready to sit back can use the weekend as a last chance to head outdoors before the snow settles in the backcountry. Breck’s expansive trail network transforms in autumn, sheltered by a canopy of golden leaves, with patches of brilliant aspens dotting distant mountainsides. Take it all in with a scenic drive, ATV outing, horseback tour, bike ride or day hike. And of course, top it all off with an Oktoberfest brew.
Entry to the street party is free. Visit www.BreckenridgeOktoberfest.com for lodging, stein pre-purchase and event details.
Friday, Sept. 16
6:00 p.m. – Paulaner Brewmaster’s Dinner (advance ticketing required, contact [email protected])
Saturday, Sept. 17
11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – Oktoberfest street party (merchandise tent opens at 10:00 a.m.)
Sunday, Sept. 18
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Oktoberfest street party