Your Guide to Oktoberfest

Welcome to Oktoberfest, Canada’s great Bavarian festival.

Are you ready to have fun? Have you got your leather shorts on? Have you said ‘Achtung, du, tritts mir beim Polkatanzen auf meinen Fuessen’ to anyone yet? 

NO? Well, read on! Help is at hand!

This survival guide to Oktoberfest is sure to transform any Norman into a Norbert, all Helens into Heidis. With a quick read through this guide and you’ll come to realize what we’ve known for a long time - if you don’t look Bavarian and if you can’t act Bavarian… well you just won’t have as much fun!

Quick Links
History of Oktoberfest  |  What to Wear  |  What to Say

How to survive Oktoberfest


The History of Oktoberfest

Once upon a time, long long ago in a far away land known as Bavaria… 

A Crown Prince, who later became King Ludgwig I, married the beautiful princess Therese Von Sachesen-Hildenburghausen. The loyal soldiers in the Prince’s National Guard thought that the horse races would be a most fitting way to celebrate the happy event. King Max, proud father of the Prince, gave his consent to the races and so they became the finale of five days of wedding festivities on October 17, 1810. This was the likely beginning of Oktoberfest.

The horse races became an annual event and were combined with the state agricultural fair the following year. It wasn’t until 1818 that booths, serving food and drink, were set up at the event. In the late 1800’s, the booths had grown into large beer halls or tents, which are still set up each year on the Theresienwiese named in honour of Ludwig’s bride.

Today, a large mid-way and fair accompany Oktoberfest in Munich, the largest celebration of its kind in the world. The festival extends over two weeks and ends on the first Sunday of October.

The Legacy

In 1969, the founding fathers of the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest saw this Bavarian tradition celebrated at the famous Concordia Club in Kitchener as an excellent opportunity to benefit the entire community by becoming a civic festival that celebrated our local German Canadian heritage.

Since 1969, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest has developed its own traditions, becoming the largest Bavarian festival in North America with the greatest Thanksgiving Day Parade in Canada. Thousands of visitors celebrate annually in our Festhallen, and by attending one or more of our 40 family and cultural events. Through the celebration of this Spirit of Gemuetlichkeit, the local economy is stimulated and over 70 charities and not-for-profit organizations raise funds to support the high quality of life enjoyed in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Bringing Oktoberfest to London!

Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, originating in Europe and Kitchener-Waterloo’s celebration is one of Canada’s most internationally renowned events.  The expansion to London’s year-round entertainment destination, Western Fair District, is a first for the KW organizers. “We are thrilled to be expanding our Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest celebrations to the City of London,” says K-W Oktoberfest Inc. President Alfred Lowrick. “It shows the Oktoberfest brand is strong not only in Kitchener-Waterloo, but throughout Southwestern Ontario. It is very exciting for us to share the spirit of Gemuetlichkeit with our friends in London and wish them the best of luck with their Festhalle in the Western Fair District”


How To Dress For Oktoberfest

Traditional Bavarian Dress for Him

There is very little you can do wrong; however, if you are opting for medium length leather trousers, there should be enough leather to fully cover the knees when sitting. Otherwise the trousers are too short, and you may become the laughing stock at the Oktoberfest.

  • Checkered Shirt (plain white is also OK)
  • Leather trousers (with suspenders, without is also OK)
  • Off-white Slouch socks (pulled down!)
  • Haferl Shoes (black!)
  • No scarf (even if they sell it to you!)

Traditional Bavarian Dress for Her

  • Short-sleeved white blouse
  • Traditional dress (the Dirndl)
  • Pinafore
  • Sheer pantyhose
  • Elegant low-heeled loafers

You should be aware of a few rules for the female dress:

  1. The knot of the pinafore indicates the status of the woman. Bound on her right side (just as Petra above) means: “I’m Taken”. Bound on her left side means: “I’m single and/or available”. Cool, eh?
  2. The traditional Dirndl is long and falls down to below mid-calf, just as in the photo above. They will sell you a short Dirndl as well, and while that may look quite appealing, but this is a tourist item and has nothing to do with the traditional dress.
  3. The pinafore should end at the same height as the Dirndl itself. Having a shorter or longer pinafore will definitely indicate that you are not one of the locals. A big no-no. 
  4. The pantyhose should be just a sheer one, maybe tanned, but definitely not black or weirdly colored.
  5. The shoes should really be low heeled loafers or ballet flats, black or white. High-heeled pumps might be a beautiful sight and a nice surprise for your husband, but it’s not something you wear as part of a traditional Oktoberfest dress.
  6. Some dresses allow you to thread thin silver chains through the front section. If you have one of these you should definitely wear the silver chains, otherwise the empty hooks will look just plain weird. 


What is “Tracht”?
Tracht (German pronunciation: [‘tRaçt]) is a traditional garment in German-speaking countries. Although the word is most often associated with Bavarian and Austrian garments, many other peoples of Germany have them.

What is a “Drindl”?
A dirndl is a type of traditional dress worn in southern Germany and Austria based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants, it usually has a full skirt and a close-fitting bodice

What is “Lederhosen”?
Lederhosen were traditionally worn by Germanic men of the Alpine and surrounding regions, they are knee-breeches (knickerbockers or shorts) made of leather. 

Don’t have all that stuff sitting in your closet? Don’t worry Das Bierhaus has you covered!

We’ve stocked our Souvenir Booth with everything you need to feel and look more Bavarian. 

Tracht & Souvenir List



Bavarian Hat

$16     Hillbilly Hat $12


Viking Hat

$26   Bavarian Cowboy Hat $18



Not German… Button

$2.50   Virgin Oktoberfester Button $3


2015 Button *SALE*

$1   2015 Flasher Button *SALE* $2


Aluminum Beer Stein with Lanyard
(includes 1st beer)

$30   Plastic Beer Stein
(includes 1st beer)


Beer Lanyard

$6   Braids $5


Beaded Mug Necklace

$3   Keychain $5



$17   Ostrich Feather $5


Dirndl/Lederhosen T-Shirt



Words to Know

Auf Wiedersehen - Good Bye

Don’t forget to end the night on a German note. 

Danke Shon - Thank You Very Much

Now you know what the person mean when you shared your beer with them!

das Bier - Beer

The word hardly needs to be translated, but at Oktoberfest everything revolves around the Bavarians’ favourite drink – beer! 

das Oktoberfest - Oktoberfest

This one’s easy no translation required!

Gemütlichkeit - Good Food & Good Company

The proverbial German Gemütlichkeit is difficult to explain. Think of good food, good company, a drink or two and plenty of time to enjoy it all!  

O’zapft is - Beer

Bavarian expression, meaning ‘it’s tapped’. At 6:35PM daily at Das Bierhaus, Onkel Hans with helps from his friends will tap a ceremonious keg of beer, exclaiming the above phrase! 

Prost - Cheers

One of the most important Oktoberfest words, prost is German for ‘cheers’ and is often sung as part of a toast before drinking, a so-called Prosit.

Willkommen - Welcome

A great way to great your new Oktoberfest friends to your table. 

Zicke Zacke - Nonsensical Sounds

Commonly sung as part of a cheer: Eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa! Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi, Zicke, zacke,zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi. Prosit.” (German for “Don’t worry, be happy, one, two, three, drink, cheers and a bunch of nonsensical sounds.) 

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