8 Great Cities to Celebrate Oktoberfest

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Oktoberfest is time for dirndl and lederhosen

By Michele D. Baker 

If you’re a beer lover, you already know that the traditional German Oktoberfest – the world’s oldest festival celebrating that delicious beverage – occurs mostly in September. In fact, it’s already over for 2023! But here in the US, we celebrate throughout October, instead. But no matter when you celebrate and no matter what your favorite beer is, it will taste better if you’re wearing traditional clothing to set the mood. That means dirndl for women and lederhosen for men. 

Taken directly from Oktoberfest.de, the official site of the 188th annual beer fest, come these unusual facts and tidbits about the costumes:  

From farm maids to the stage, to every woman’s closet 

In the 19th century, the typical work attire of farm maids in Bavaria and Austria was a long, sleeveless dress over a shirt and an apron made of bed linens. Around 1930, city folks traveling to relax in the Alps took a liking to these traditional outfits. Around the same time, an Alpine-guesthouse themed operetta caused a sensation in the USA, where “The White Horse Inn” was a box office hit on Broadway and was performed 223 times. Suddenly the traditional outfits seen in the play were chic and anyone who wanted to be at the forefront of fashion wore dresses with traditional costume elements. 

The world’s most expensive Oktoberfest dirndl 

Dirndl are available at any price range. The brightly colored mini dirndl is relatively cheap, and you can buy a knock-off version on Amazon for about $50. Real dirndl with silk aprons and lace blouses will run you $400 or so. But the world’s most expensive dirndl is made of pure wild silk and embroidered with 150,000 Swarovski crystals. That dress will cost you around $100,000!  

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder 

Far removed from wild silk and Swarovski are the rogue dirndl that appear year after year. These include “dresses” made of thermoplastic in the navy and white colors of Germany’s Schalke 04 soccer team, skintight red leather or even peacock-style dresses. In 2006, Columbian dressmaker Miguel Caballero went a bit too far when he designed a bulletproof dirndl. (He later declared it a marketing gag.) 

Lederhosen belong to Bavaria — but not only 

When we think of lederhosen (literally “leather pants”) we inevitably picture Bavaria. It’s true that they are customary for Germany’s largest state — but it’s not only there. Other Alpine peoples such as Austrians, the Swiss and the inhabitants of South Tyrol happily slip on a pair. 

Much more than just a fair-weather friend 

Maybe it’s a bit excessive to call lederhosen functional, but they are capable of more than you’d believe. Deerskin is soft and pleasant, robust and durable. It protects you from the elements, keeps you warm in cold weather, and cools you on sunny days. It also adapts particularly well to liquids such as rain (or spilled beer). 

What to wear underneath? 

Like the kilt, this question reflects one of the great mysteries: with or without underwear? Lederhosen should fit snugly and sometimes there really isn’t enough room for underwear, especially not boxers. Today it’s a matter of personal preference, but the story was very different prior to the 1940s, when all men went commando in their lederhosen

Related: Florida Craft Fairs in October


Three Places to Buy Dirndl and Lederhosen

Once you’ve got your Trachten (traditional clothing), head to an Oktoberfest celebration near you: 

September 29-30, October 6-7: German American Society Oktoberfest 

8098 66th St. N, Pinellas Park. www.GermanTampa.com  

October 7: Oktoberfest Mount Dora in downtown Mount Dora 

www.mountdora.com 

October 13-15: Oktoberfest Tampa at Curtis Hixon Park 

www.oktoberfesttampa.com 

October 13-15: Sarasota Rocktoberfest at JD Halem Park 

www.destinationdowntownsarasota.com 

October 14: Oktoberfest on the Beach at Kolb Park, Indian Rocks Beach 

www.IRBAction2000.com 

October 20-22: Upper Tampa Bay Oktoberfest at Tampa Bay Downs  

www.business.UTBChamber.com 

October 20-22 and 27-29: Cape Coral Oktoberfest at the German American Social Club of Cape Coral 

www.GASC-CapeCoral.com 

October 28: Central Florida Oktoberfest at the German American Society in Casselberry 

www.OrlandoGermanClub.com