German-American Festival (September 6 - 8, 2013): Hosted by the United German-American Societies of Greater Chicago, this annual German-inspired festival takes place in Chicago's Lincoln Square Neighborhood (4000 N. Lincoln Avenue at Western and Leland Avenues) and features the Von Streuben German Day Parade, as well as German beer and foods. The Von Streuben German Day Parade celebrates Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who came to the U.S. as a volunteer offering his services to General George Washington. It is said that General von Steuben converted the revolutionary army into a disciplined fighting force, instilling in them much needed inspiration, confidence and competence. The parade includes hundreds of participants who march, dance, play music or ride the many beautiful floats on Lincoln Avenue.
The Berghoff Oktoberfest (September 11 - 13, 2013): The 28th annual Berghoff Oktoberfest, held at the John C. Kluczynski Federal Plaza at Adams and Dearborn Streets, features Bavarian-style classic German food, beer, live entertainment. The outside portion will offer daily lunch-time, traditional German performances and nightly shows. Don't forget about the tapping of the keg. The traditional tapping of the keg party at Chicago's Berghoff Restaurant (17 W. Adams) will be from 6 to 10 p.m. on September 5. The actual tapping ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tip: Wear an Oktoberfest costume on tapping night for a chance to win Berghoff's "Germaniac" costume contest. Also, you can celebrate Oktoberfest at the Berghoff restaurant on September 15 (all day) and 16 (11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) with $1.15 "Throwback Steins." (As a side note: 2011 event had what was reported to be a 45 FOOT BRAT. Not sure if this year's event will also have the special brat. And at last year's festival, to honor Oktoberfest’s origin as a celebration for Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Bavaria in 1810, the Berghoff called all engaged couples and asking them to explain why they deserve to be crowned as the festival's prince and princess.)
deca OktoberFest-Off (September 22, 2013): deca Restaurant (at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago) is hosting a battle of beer and brats Sunday, September 22, in the inaugural OktoberFest-Off featuring sausages and brats from Chicago chefs paired with local brews from Half Acre and Revolution Brewing Company. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. From 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Purchase tickets here ($49).
Oktoberfest 2013 at Goose Island Wrigleyville (September 27, 2013): The Polkaholics and Bolzen Beer Band will be playing at Goose Island Wrigleyville's Oktoberfest from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, September 27. Tickets ($35 - $45) include craft beers, pretzels, brats and entertainment.
Oktoberfest Chicago (September 27-29, 2013): St. Alphonsus's Oktoberfest rounds out Chicago's outdoor festival season with bratwurst, beer and music. This annual Oktoberfest takes place at Lincoln and Southport Avenues and benefits the St. Alphonsus church, which is one of the oldest in Chicago. New this year is a Craft Beer Night on that Friday, September 27, from 6 - 9 p.m. Per the festival's website: "Enjoy 20 tastings from craft breweries around the country. You'll get a commemorative glass, a pretzel necklace and lots of good beer to try." Tickets for the Craft Beer Night are $30. General admission to the festival is $5. Bands throughout the weekend will include Sixteen Candles, Polkaholics, School of Rock and more. This fesstival also includes a Kinderfest on that Sunday, September 29, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., which includes kid-centric activities like crafts and a bouncy house, obstacle course, polka dance lessons and a performance by Radio Disney at noon. You can also experience Oktoberfest Chicago like a true Bavarian by becoming a Brewmaster. The Brewmaster package includes, for $100, a commemorative 2013 Oktoberfest stoneware stein (a full liter) for toasting German drinking songs; stein refills; four weekend passes to the festival; discounted admission to the new Craft Beer Night on Friday ($20); $30 in Brewer Bucks; and more. (Planning a visit to Munich, Germany for the world's largest Oktoberfest? Check out our Oktoberfest Munich 2013 Guide, as well our Tips on Planning Your Oktoberfest Munich trip.)
Oktoberfests in the Chicago suburbs to keep on your radar:
- Hofbrauhaus Authentic Oktoberfest, September 13 - October 31. Festival includes freshly brewed “Oktoberfestbier” inspired by the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich, German-inspired menu, authentic “Oompah” band from Austria and more. Restaurant is located at 5500 Park Place, Rosemont.
- Glenview House Oktoberfest, September 21. Check out this all-day Oktoberfest (goes from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) that includes live German music by the Die Musikmeisters and German food and brews, all served in a 60’x40’ tent located in the railroad parking lot west of the Glenview House restaurant, 1843 Glenview Road.
- Berwyn Oktoberfest, September 20 - 21. Berwyn's 12th annual Oktoberfest includes live performances, amusement rides, vendors and a traditional beer garden. Hours are 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday. Location is Berwyn's Historic Depot District at Windsor and Stanley Avenues, Berwyn.
- Oakbrook Oktoberfest 2013, September 21. Enjoy German food and BBQ from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., as well as live German music. Festival takes place at the Oak Brook Park District, 1450 Forest Gate Road.
Looking for more fun things to do this September? Visit the Shedd Aquarium for free. You can also enjoy some time outside, especially since September is one of Chicago's most favorable "weather" months, with a Chicago walking tour or be a "visitor" in your own city and check the Art Institute of Chicago.