It’s that time of year when everybody’s German—or wants to be. There are lots of traditional Oktoberfest festivals all around the region, and with a full schedule, you can celebrate here in Colorado Springs and follow the fall colors into higher elevations. Here is a guide for German celebrations and libations in the Springs and beyond. Get out those lederhosen and dirndl and get going!
Sept. 6-8, 13-15
Lionshead and Vail Village
Two weekends of Oktoberfest fun including Bavarian music, yodeling, keg bowling, a bratwurst-eating contest and more. Dance during the free concerts on Saturday nights, and let the kids play in the family zones.
Sept. 7 – Oct. 20
Royal Gorge Railroad
Willkommen an bord der bier train! A two-hour train ride through the Royal Gorge features a three-course lunch, Oktoberfest beer and Barry the accordianist on the open air car.
O’Brien Park, Parker
Sure, there’s a traditional biergarten pouring Paulaner, but late-night features a German techno dance party. You’ll also find Dachshund races and a kids stage featuring Grimm Brothers’ fairytale spinoffs.
Bear Creek Regional Park, Colorado Springs
A Coloradan’s two favorite things: dogs and beer. Proceeds from a dog walk, vendors and contests benefit the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
Rocky Mountain Oktoberfest
Ute Pass Cultural Center, Woodland Park
Head to Woodland Park for a Rocky Mountain-style twist on the German fest, including German food by Chef Brother Luck, live music,. a climbing wall, obstacle courses and more.
Colorado Springs Oktoberfest
Western Museum of Mining and Industry, Colorado Springs
Live oompah music, a German wine tour, wiener dog races, costume and stein-hoisting contests and more make for an ongoing Oktoberfest vibe in Colorado Springs.
Sept. 20-22, 27-29
2100 Larimer St, LoDo
Now in it’s 50th year, the Denver Oktoberfest is one of the country’s longest-running. Head to the Mile High City for music, stein-hoisting contests and keg bowling with 250,000 of your fellow beer-loving friends throughout the course of the festival.
Castle Rock Oktoberfest
Wilcox Square, Downtown Castle Rock
Celebrating its 26th anniversary, the Castle Rock festival is anchored by the libations of local Rockyard Brewing, but adds nearly a dozen other local and regional craft brewers to the mix. Catch the free trolley shuttle service, so you can focus on your sampling.
Ouray Community Center
Spend Oktoberfest in Colorado’s Europeanesque mountain town. German brats and beer will be served. Compete in costume contests. Dance and watch fireworks throughout the night.
German All Year Round
One Wednesday night a month, year-round, a long table fills the Ratskeller basement bar of the traditional, family-owned Edelweiss restaurant in the Ivywild neighborhood. The boisterous crowd of German speakers exchanges banter over carefully-selected German beers. The monthly Stammtisch conversational group gathering usually sees more than 20 German speakers, some of whom drive an hour to be here.
Edelweiss has been a visible hub of authentic German atmosphere in the Springs for over nearly 50 years, helmed by Helga Schnakenberg (originally from Heidelberg), her husband, Gary and their son Dieter. The Alpine chalet feels like a slice of home to many expats and German heritage seekers in town.
“Over the last 35 years, my parents have fine-tuned every detail of this restaurant, bit by bit,” Dieter says. “Each room has a different theme or feel to it, with German decor and details they’ve really lovingly woven into everything. Even the mailbox out front was brought over in a suitcase.”
While Edelweiss doesn’t do an Oktoberfest at the traditional time, they have been known to put together a Summerfest full of traditional German beers, music and food. But, hey, they’re pros who do that every day of the year. Anytime you stop in, you’ll find all German beers on tap, imported from 100-year-old breweries, and strolling German musicians with accordions serenade you on Friday and Saturday nights.
Wimberger’s Old World Bakery & Delicatessan
On the west side of town, Wimberger’s Old World Bakery & Delicatessan was also founded by a German expatriate around the same time as Edelweiss, and holds the torch of a real German rye bread, along with dozen of other baked delights. It’s also a fine place to spend a Saturday morning hearing snippets of German conversation over your coffee, and you can also pick up some imported regional delicacies.
Colorado College German Program
For an intellectual boost, Colorado College’s German department frequently organizes films, an annual German language play and a variety of other events that may be open to the public. Find them listed on the campus events calendar to help you brush up on the language before the high holy Oktoberfest season begins.
-Heather Powell Browne