Beaches, sunshine, surfing, and a Huntington Beach Oktoberfest with the Germans. What could be a more natural combination! While celebrating Oktoberfest in Huntington Beach may not top the list of ideal Oktoberfest celebrations, this area offers one of the more authentic German experiences anywhere.
This year, the Huntington Beach Oktoberfest celebrates its 34th year at Old World Village. Many years ago, the dream to build a bit of Bavaria landed here in Huntington Beach as Josef and Dolores Bischof built a number of businesses and homes in a Bavarian style to honor Josef’s homeland. This place has a beer garden, German culture and lifestyle, and all you could need to celebrate like a Bavarian. And that’s exactly the way it Josef intended.
Don’t miss the story of war, romance, Hollywood, and the German dream!
Today, Josef and Dolores’ children – Bern (better known as Bernie) and Cyndie – run Old World Village and all the events taking place, including Oktoberfest. This place is family-friendly and offers plenty of fun for adults as well. While many people may not expect to find Germany on a southern California beach, its one of the most popular and authentic German experiences in all of California.
Huntington Beach Oktoberfest history and events at Old World Village
For those looking for an authentic Oktoberfest experience, Old World Village built a German village for you! First opened in 1978, Old World Village consists of businesses, shops, and homes with German markets, delis, shops, and restaurants, as well as a church, gazebo, banquet hall, and biergarten. Old World Village functions 365 days a year and really is a self sustained community built in the Bavarian style with murals and images from around Europe.
With the grand opening in 1978, Old World Village kicked things off with its first Huntington Beach Oktoberfest. This year celebrates 34 years of Oktoberfest fun. The event begins the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and runs through the last Sunday in October. More than 50,000 people will pass through the gates of Oktoberfest this year to enjoy a genuine German Oktoberfest experience.
I sat down with Pam Algata, who helps run Oktoberfest, and Bernie Bischof, son of Josef who now runs the village and events (along with his sister, Cyndie). Dressed in full German costume, their enthusiasm for what they do is evident.
This is not just an event to drink beer and celebrate German culture but something that is a part of their lives that they live out each and every day. Bernie’s dad still lives in the village as well as Bernie’s sister Cyndie. The family owns three homes here that are occupied year round. Pam has known Bernie since 1989 and has become just as passionate for this place as the Bischof family.
Old World Village itself is vintage Bavaria as evidenced by the food, restaurants, shops, and buildings. The Huntington Beach Oktoberfest seeks to maintain that same German flavor in everything they do.
Two German bands perform nightly during Oktoberfest as Klaustaler and Treppensteiger bring their music heritage, and culture to the people. Both bands hail from Wurzburg (or Wuerzburg), Bavaria – the same town as Josef Bischof – and perform all types of traditional German music.
Along with German music, bratwurst, sauerkraut, and a variety of German beers, the Huntington Beach Oktoberfest has carnival games, dance troops performing traditional German dances, shot girls serving Jagermeister, Polka nights on Thursdays, a contortionist, and more.
A number of events and celebrations take place during Oktoberfest as well. Opening day of Oktoberfest is a charity day for the Therapeutic Riding Center, a place which provides handicap and special needs kids a chance to enjoy horseback riding and bonding with these animals. All the food proceeds for opening day are donated to TRC.
This week features German-American Day at Oktoberfest as German culture and people are honored on October 6. Many years ago, President Reagan declared October 6 as German-American Day to honor German influence, culture, and the 13 families that came here in 1683 and settled near Philadelphia.
It’s a day to honor German contributions to America and Old World Village celebrates by offering free food for the first 500 people that attend this Thursday and free admission to all (check the website for more details). The food is donated by the German Crusaders and kicks off Thursday, October 6 at 6 pm.
Huntington Beach Oktoberfest at Old World Village features food, events, activities, and family fun as they welcome visitors from all over the world. The festival is open Wednesday through Sunday of each week and their website offers more information, discounts, and the happenings for this year’s event. Here’s the current schedule for 2011 as the Huntington Beach Oktoberfest continues through October 30:
- Wednesday, Thursday (Family nights) - 6:30 – 10 pm. Cost is FREE. Anyone under 21 MUST be accompanied by a parent.
- Friday, Saturday (adults 21+ ID required)) - 6:30 pm – 1 am. Cost is $15 per person and a $5 discount coupon is available.
- Sunday (Family Day – Kinderfest) - 2 pm – 7:30 pm. Kids under 5 are FREE, ages 6 – 12 $2, adults $5. $3 discount coupon is available.
Huntington Beach Oktoberfest for families
Many people think of Oktoberfest as a place flowing with beer, brats, sauerkraut, and lively music. For anyone who has experienced Oktoberfest in Munich, it’s a wild party for adults only. However, Oktoberfest at Old World Village in Huntington Beach has made sure that this can be fun for families as well.
Wednesday and Thursday nights are set aside as family nights with free admission from 6:30 pm – 10 pm as long as anyone 21 and under is accompanied by a parent. Each Sunday is designated as family day as Kinderfest offers free admission for kids under 5 ($2 for kids 6 – 12) and $5 admission to adults from 2 pm – 7:30 pm.
This Sunday, my family had the chance to participate in Kinderfest and enjoy the full German Oktoberfest experience. There were a number of fun activities for kids including a bounce house, a chicken mascot, and Dachshund (weiner) dog races (every Sunday at 3 pm). For my young kids, they had a blast on the dance floor dancing and holding hands with other kids and a few parents as a German band played all types of German music.
For those looking to attend Kinderfest with their families and want even more savings, the Old World Village website offers $3 discount coupons so that adult admission is only $2 (look for even more discounts on other nights including $5 off on Friday and Saturday nights, free admission on Fridays, and more).
For those wanting food and drinks for the family, there are still plenty of bratwursts, sauerkraut, and beer to go around for the adults while kids can get their choice of hot dogs, burgers, chicken, water, sodas, and more (meals are around $10 – $12, beer $4 – $10). If you need some souvenirs, you can purchase beer mugs, shirts, or a number of other items from the shops and markets at Old World Village.
If you’ve ever wanted an Oktoberfest for the family, Old World Village at Huntington Beach provides a family-friendly environment on Sundays as well as Wednesday and Thursday nights throughout September and October.
Germany comes to southern California
Huntington Beach Oktoberfest joins Anaheim, Torrance, Orange, and San Diego in welcoming the German culture to southern California. However, there doesn’t seem to be a more authentic German experience than Old World Village.
German music, an authentic German village, and a self sustaining German community and heritage – it’s what Oktoberfest is all about. With a family run village and community, this place welcomes families, visitors, and people of all ages all year long.
This is what makes Oktoberfest in Huntington Beach so unique. It’s not an event but a community built by a German in traditional Bavarian style where the German and European culture, food, and life are lived out every day.
Why Oktoberfest in Huntington Beach? As Bernie Bischof puts it “Come celebrate Oktoberfest at Old World Village and be a German for the day.”
With Old World Village, you can be a German every day.
Directions to Old World Village, Huntington Beach – Located at 7561 Center Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647. Take the 405 freeway to Huntington Beach, get off at the Beach Blvd. south exit, stay to your right on Center Avenue. Continue a short distance to Huntington Village Lane, then go right (next to Hotel Huntington Beach). Parking lot is on the left.
Special thanks to Madison Fisher at Surf City USA (Huntington Beach Visitors Bureau) and Pam Agalta and Bernie Bischof at Old World Village for being my hosts to me and my family. While my family received free admission and dinner to the Huntington Beach Oktoberfest, all views and opinions of Oktoberfest at Old World Village are my own.