Oktoberfest in Scotland: What you need to know about the Bavarian celebration

With autumn slowly setting in it means it’s time to break out your new wardrobe: cosy jumpers, scarves, boots and… a lederhosen?

That’s right, with autumn we get the likes of Halloween, pumpkin carving, pumpkin and apple picking, spiced pumpkin everything, but one of the best happenings of all is Oktoberfest, so you’ll need your German leather breeches for this one.

The German festival hailing from Bavaria celebrates everyone’s favourite things: food, beer, and merrymaking. But what actually is it, you may well ask?

Photo credit: oktoberfest.de – Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

What is Oktoberfest?

Although the official Oktoberfest celebration takes place in Munich, Bavaria, an annual festival that draws in more than six million people, there are celebrations modelled after it all over the world, including in the UK. No matter where it’s celebrated, there are a few common staples: lively music (think oompah bands), mouthwatering food, and big, big pints of good beer.

Oktoberfest is really about coming together and having a good time. In Munich, the celebration officially starts when the mayor taps the first keg, shouting “O’ zapft is!” or “It’s tapped!” in English. The first person to get a beer is usually the Minister-President of the State of Bavaria, but after that, anyone is free to “Prost!” (toast) the day away.

Photo credit: oktoberfest.de

According to the rules of the festival, all beer served at the Oktoberfest tents must be from one of Munich’s six breweries; Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu.

If you’re lucky enough to experience an authentic Oktoberfest celebration in Germany, you’ll be able to stuff yourself silly with smoked sausages, roasted meats, sauerkraut, cabbage, and pretzels, but if you’re opting to stay closer to home, here are two Scotland-based Oktoberfests to get involved in:


Held in a tent next to West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh Oktoberfest is slap bang in the middle of the city. The area is transformed into a traditional Oktoberfest with live music and a great atmosphere.

From 30th October to 3rd November, the whole family can experience Bavarian culture in Edinburgh. Over one long weekend you can experience everything that makes a real Oktoberfest without having to book flights to Munich.

Expect traditional Oktoberfest delicacies, such as brezel (twisted-knot bread), bratwurst (German speciality sausage), schnitzel (deep-fried breaded pork cutlet), hendl (chicken) and schweinebraten (German style roast pork), not to mention steins of specially brewed Bavarian beer.

The Scottish capital will be host to live German music, full Oktoberfest decoration, and the giant tent has capacity for 1,200 people. You may be in bonnie Scotland, but you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Bavaria. Ticket prices and packages vary and are available here.

Photo credit: oktoberfest.de


The Annual Rotary Oktoberfest returns to Dundee with a larger main marquee, raised stage, more bands and a wider choice of refreshments. Get ready for a unique festival of beer, wine, music and barbecued food – and all for charity.

From Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th September, expect good German food, plenty of beer and live bands such as Tarpaulin, The Vintage Girls, Sound Machine and headline act Jive Candy.

Staying in Scotland?

If you’re visiting one of these Scottish Oktoberfests, Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa is in Dundee city centre and is located in the up-and-coming Quayside area next to the Waterfront and V&A Museum. It’s also just a short walk to anywhere in the city centre, including the shopping areas, RRS Discovery and Caird Hall.

There are also a variety of options waiting for you in Edinburgh, with four hotels to choose from in the capital.

Apex Waterloo Place in the city’s New Town and Apex City of Edinburgh in the Old Town are ideal for discovering Oktoberfest and the city, thanks a great location and facilities, while Apex Grassmarket is a perfect Edinburgh family hotel thanks to its swimming pool and choice views of Edinburgh Castle.

Apex Haymarket is just a 15-minute drive from Edinburgh Airport and is an excellent choice for those looking for a place to stay in Edinburgh overnight, a great base for solo adventurers and those looking to make the most of the Oktoberfest celebrations.

Photo credit: oktoberfest.de

Oktoberfest fun facts:

Why did the first Oktoberfest take place?

The first Oktoberfest was held on Oct. 12, 1810, and was originally in honour of the wedding between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig – the future King Ludwig I – and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

What instrument is often associated with German oompah bands?

An Alphorn. It was originally used as a way for Alpine farmers in Switzerland to communicate with people in surrounding villages – and as a way to calm nervous cows when it was time to be milked. The long, skinny alphorn is now used as a musical instrument, and is often associated with German oompah bands.

Einstein worked at Oktoberfest

It’s true, Albert Einstein once worked as an electrician and helped to set up one of the beer tents in 1896.

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