Oktoberfest has been an annual tradition in Nashville since 1980, and every year it continues to draw more and more visitors. Over 100,000 people attended last year’s Oktoberfest, and this year, the festival predicts roughly 150,000-200,000 attendees. The festival will take up over nine blocks of Germantown and is open to everyone, including families; there’ll even be children’s entertainment for those with underage attendees in tow. Whether you’re searching for an opportunity to celebrate your German heritage, a beer aficionado, or merely interested in checking out this one-of-a-kind autumn extravaganza, the wide range of activities (not to mention food and beverage options) will virtually guarantee that you’ll leave entertained and satiated.
Dates, Times, and Parking Information
The festival will run from Friday, October 7th to Sunday, October 9th. The hours for each day of the festival are:
October 7th: 2pm-10pm
October 8th: 10am-10pm
October 9th: 10am-8pm
If you’re planning to drive to the festival, be sure to check out the festival map, where you’ll find the lots that have been designated for free festival parking. But because of the high concentration of expected attendees, parking will fill up fast – so consider taking an Uber (if you haven’t yet signed up, you can register online; use the promo code ‘GERMANTOWN’ and the first ride is free).
Over 35 food vendors are slated to serve hungry visitors at this year’s festival. You’ll find everything from traditional German delicacies – such as spaetzle, bratwurst, and much, much more – to traditional fair food, to some of Nashville’s most beloved food trucks. And it should come as no surprise that in addition to the numerous food options, there’ll be no shortage of craft beer selections. In addition to six beer stations that’ll be serving up beer imported straight from Munich (from the Paulaner and Hacker Pschorr breweries, to be exact), there’ll also be three VIP Beer Gardens. The Beer Gardens will host daily tasting sessions (only open to those with VIP tickets, which will be detailed below); after the sessions, the Gardens will be open to the public for beer purchase. In total, the Beer Gardens will feature ten different breweries serving up a grand total of 18 different craft brews.
Oktoberfest will also feature a number of different activities and entertainment options for attendees of all ages. On Saturday at 1pm, there’ll be a parade headed by Mayor Megan Barry that’ll start at the corner of 7th Ave North and Monroe St. Throughout the festival you’ll also find an arts and crafts fair featuring over 110 Tennessee vendors selling everything from specialty soap to handmade ceramics. Additionally, be sure to check out the abundance of free live music – which will be performed at the festival’s three separate stages – featuring authentic German music and Oktoberfest Oompah bands.
For pint-sized attendees, Nashville Parent Magazine will be sponsoring a Kid’s Fun Zone, which’ll have live music, face painting, storytellers, arts and crafts, and inflatable rompers. And the festival is pet-friendly, too; on Saturday at 1pm there’s a Pup Parade with prizes awarded for the best-dressed dogs, and on Sunday the Dachshund Derby will take place, a Weiner dog race benefiting a local animal rescue charity.
Last but not least, this year’s Oktoberfest will also consist of the annual 5k Bier Run. On Saturday 8th at 8:00am, participants will tear (or walk, if that’s more your speed) through the streets of downtown Nashville; for taking part, you’ll also get a free shirt and a free beer tasting. The earlier you sign up for this event, the cheaper it is; if you sign up before September 30th, the registration fee is just $30 (the price goes up to $35 from October 1st to 7th and $40 on race day).
Tickets and Prices
Admission to the festival is completely free – and there are numerous activities that you can take advantage of without spending a dime (including the aforementioned live music). Food and beer, of course, are not included in the free admission, so if you’re planning on sampling a dish or two, plan to bring some extra cash.
For those looking to upgrade their Oktoberfest experience, there’s also a VIP option. With a VIP pass, you’ll receive numerous additional exclusive benefits, including unlimited beer tastings and access to the Beer Gardens, two free 20 ounce beers of your choice in the VIP lounges, free food catered by a private buffet in the VIP lounges all weekend, and a free one liter Oktoberfest Stein. And the earlier you buy your VIP pass, the less it’ll cost you -advance prices are $79 for a one-day and $109 for a weekend pass; at the gate, these prices increase to $99 and $149, respectively).
By Katie Miller