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Raise your stein to Oktoberfest where it began in Philly

The Cambridge will host a "Distinguished" Oktoberfest in its outdoor courtyard Oct. 6.  Photo Credit: The Cambridge The Cambridge is planning a Distinguished Oktoberfest celebration in its outdoor courtyard on Oct. 6.
Credit: The Cambridge

An event that celebrates beer, set in one of the country’s best beer-drinking cities? Sounds like a no-brainer.

From late September through early October, Philadelphia is packed with Oktoberfest festivities. Whether you prefer a subdued, distinguished celebration or a rowdy street party, you’re sure to find somewhere to say, “Prost!”

It wasn’t always so, according to Chris Mullins, whose family owns McGillin’s, the oldest continuously operating tavern in the city. For years, he says, Oktoberfest came and went with little fanfare in Philly.

“With our German heritage, I think that void was kind of a shame,” says Mullins.

McGillin’s was one of the first to acknowledge the German celebration, starting its own Oktoberfest event more than 20 years ago “when there were no German bars in Philly,” Mullins says. The pub has been in the spirit since the end of August and is ready to culminate the monthlong celebration on Oct. 6, coinciding with the Midtown Village Fall Festival. Seasonal brews like Yuengling Oktoberfest and Warsteiner will flow from the taps, and will be paired with German-inspired eats throughout the day.

If you’re looking for something more intimate and exclusive, buy your ticket now for The Cambridge’s “Distinguished” Oktoberfest, also on Oct. 6.

Manager Dan Tyrell says the South Street bar’s classy take on the German holiday will be held in the outdoor courtyard and is intended to be a “much more relaxing kind of affair” than the beer-fueled block parties that typically mark Oktoberfest.

A $30 wristband will get you a traditional German beer stein, filled up twice (the outdoor beer station will have four Oktoberfest brews on tap) or two glasses of Riesling, plus sausage, schnitzel and other German snacks.

After just missing Oktoberfest last year, Wursthaus Schmitz — Brauhaus Schmitz’s sister site at Reading Terminal Market — is celebrating this year with a daylong event on Oct. 4 (which just so happens to be German-American Day in Philly) featuring German dancers, a strolling accordion player and, of course, “lots of sausage, pork and sauerkraut,” says owner Doug Hager.

Wursthaus will pair up with Molly Malloy’s to keep the beer flowing.

Other Oktoberfest events include Xfinity Live’s Xtoberfest on Sept. 28, featuring live music, more than 150 beers from 40-plus brewers and plenty of authentic Oktoberfest style food, and the King of Prussia Beerfest Royale on Oct. 3 and 5 at the mall, where $45 gets you unlimited beer samples.

 
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