Des Moines Oktoberfest is back for the fifteenth year as downtown Des Moines’ original Oktoberfest celebration. This year the party returns September 28 and 29 from 3 p.m.—1 a.m.

1. A Friday Afternoon Well-Spent with CJ Leinenkugel!
Kick off the festival with everyone’s favorite tradition - the Tapping of the Golden Keg. One lucky winner will ride the Big Yellow Bike into the festival with 14 friends and be the first to sample the Golden Keg and deem it fit for consumption. Everyone in attendance will enjoy free beer (while it lasts) and numerous group toasts! This year CJ Leinenkugel, sixth Generation Leinenkugel, will be in attendance for the Tapping of the Golden Keg. Not only is CJ Leinenkugel part of the infamous Leinenkugel family line, but he also works for Hofbrau, bringing even more German passion to the festival.

CJ Leinenkugel Des Moines Oktoberfest

2. Prost with a Pint!
To celebrate a milestone year for Des Moines’ Oktoberfest - this year all general admission attendees will receive a commemorative pint glass for their drinkware. 2018 marks the 15th year of Des Moines’ Oktoberfest, and what better way to celebrate than with an upgraded souvenir for all in attendance?

Des Moines Oktoberfest

3. A Taste of Munich in Downtown Des Moines
Oktoberfest has celebrated 15 years as Greater Des Moines' most authentic festival. With authentic food, beer and dancing, there really is something for everyone no matter if you’re a proud German or just a German for the weekend. Oktoberfest features a Braid Bar to complete your look with braid crowns, Dutch braids, Heidi braids and more! This year has our largest Hofbrau lineup, with eight different Hofbrau varieties to try. The festival is also held on the doorstep of Hessen Haus, Des Moines’ only German bier hall and restaurant. Around every turn, the hope is that you are filled with the Oktoberfest spirit and feel like you are getting a taste of Munich in the heart of Downtown Des Moines.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

4. Enjoy a Dutch Letter Among Other Authentic Food
Enjoy German favorites such as apple strudl, Dutch letters, Munich bratwursts and Bavarian pretzels from Strudl Haus, the official food vendor of Oktoberfest. Their team will be dressed in authentic German attire and will be serving up a full menu for attendee’s enjoyment. Owned and operated by Michael Leo, Strudl Haus has been bringing Austrian flair and cuisine to Greater Des Moines for many years. If you leave Oktoberfest without an apple strudl, can you really say you went to Oktoberfest?

Des Moines Oktoberfest

5. More Dancing than Ever Before!
See how the professionals perform! New this year, our Leinenkugel’s Main Stage will showcase two dance troupes performing authentic German dances. On Friday, the Amana Colony Folksingers will take the stage with their mix of solos, small group dancing, audience participation, folk dancing and their men’s troupe - the Schuhplatters. Saturday will feature the UNI IDT Dance Company with University of Northern Iowa students and their authentic dances.Des Moines Oktoberfest dancing

6. Local Partners - OktoBeer Yoga at the Science Center and Zooktoberfest at the Blank Park Zoo
Turn Oktoberfest into a four-day celebration by stretching out your drinking muscles at our new OktoBeer Yoga session on the Party Plaza outside of the Science Center of Iowa on Wednesday, September 26. $15 gets you a 50-minute yoga session with Caryn Lee Meeks from PowerLife Yoga and your first beer. Then, head to Zooktoberfest at the Blank Park Zoo on Thursday the 27 for a Zoo Brew with an Oktoberfest twist! Come out and enjoy live music, the best seasonal beers, Oktoberfest-style food, pretzel necklaces and of course a handful of your Zoo animal friends. Zoo Brew tickets are valid at this event.  

Des Moines Oktoberfest

7. Strike up the Music, The Band has Begun
This year features an impressive list of local and regional acts on the Leinenkugel’s Main Stage. The Polka Police brought an impressive rap sheet to last year’s festival and is headlining both nights of Des Moines’ Oktoberfest this year. Come surveil Sergeant Squeezebox and Lieutenant Lederhosen from 10 p.m.—12:30 a.m. on September 23 and 24. Rounding out the Main Stage lineup is Bill Koncar Band, Malek’s Fishermen Band, Jim Kucera Band and our newcomers - Jager and the Polkameisters! Enjoy everything from the Pennsylvania polka to apples, peaches, pumpkin pie, on our main stage.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

8. Join the Outdoor Dance Party at our Silent Disco
Silent Disco DSM debuted at Oktoberfest in 2016 and is excited to make a return this year. Attendees will get a pair of wireless LED headphones that connect to three channels with DJs playing different genres. One minute you may be listening to AC|DC and then you’ll switch to old school Third Eye Blind or belt out the newest Top 40 hit. Featured DJs on the Silent Disco Stage include: Alex Mac, Chris Coffey, Church, Confluence, Diconechtt, Dub D, Eric Marshall III, Jimmy Jim, Jimmy Wright, #johnnyrage, Taylor G, and Yeti House. There will be 750 headsets, 250 more than last year, available to attendees on a first come, first serve basis at no additional cost.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

9. Show Us what You’ve Got!
Saturday will once again feature four versions of our stein holding competition. See who will be crowned Masskrugstemmen (Stein Holding Champlion) and take home bragging rights for an entire year! The 5 p.m. competition will feature local celebrities competing in a male and female round to take home the prize for the charity of their choice. The evening heats up at 9:30 p.m. when the official contest for the title of “Masskrugstemmen” begins and men and women try their strength, determination and stubbornness as they hold a 1-liter glass stein full of beer (which weighs five pounds) straight out in front of them. First priority for competitors will go to those dressed in authentic German attire.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

10. Hit the Nail on the Topiary
Now a local favorite, this year will once again feature Hammerschlagen in our Party Plaza. Hone your technique as you try to be the first to hammer a nail into a tree stump. Party Plaza also features additional games such as Bier Pong, Bobbing for Afels (Apples), Beer Checkers and Cornhole.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

11. Polka Like a Pro After Your Polka Lessons
The Polka Club of Iowa returns for another year of keeping the dance floor grooving. Join the official polka lessons on Saturday, September 29 from 3 - 5 pm while Jager and the Polkameisters play. The Polka Club of Iowa will be in attendance to teach the various dances so you can reverse the tables and be the friend who knows all the best polka moves the whole weekend. Many Polka Club of Iowa members will also be at the event Friday to help unofficially teach some moves!

Des Moines Oktoberfest

12. Enjoy our Largest Beer and Cocktail Menu To Date
The festival has added a fourth beer truck, which means even more beer varieties for attendees to enjoy. Oktoberfest has also expanded the cocktail and signature drink menu, while also providing Steigl Radler, Smith and Forge Cider and two varieties of White Claw. Grab three friends and come do a shot of your favorite Dr. McGillacuddy’s Schnapps in the four-person shotski! We recommend the Root Beer Barrel, but maybe the Red Head shot is more your style. See the full menu on our website.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

13. Roll out the {Craft} Beer Barrels
Among the delicious German imports at Oktoberfest, Craft Beer Village provides a wide variety of seasonal craft beers for the pumpkin, IPA and Oktoberfest brews. Come satisfy your tastebuds with a new spin on an old favorite. This year will feature Boone Valley Brewing, Firetrucker Brewery, Founders Brewing Co., Laguinitas Brewing Company, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing Company, Oskar Blues Brewery, Peace Tree Brewing Company and Spoetzl Brewery varieties.

craft beer Des Moines Oktoberfest

14. Win the Ultimate Title of 2018 Oktoberfest Bier Maiden
Always a crowd-favorite, this Bier Maiden Contest will take place at 9 p.m. on Friday, September 28. Ladies compete in three rounds to earn the title of Oktoberfest Bier Maiden. Rounds of bier chugging, belching and stein holding eliminate players each round, with a special yodeling round if there is a tie. Audience participation can sway the vote, so make sure to come with a cheering group! If you thought the stein holding was not for the faint of heart, you are in for an unforgettable experience. Participants must be dressed in bier maiden attire to compete.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

15. Escape to the Party Plaza for our Acoustic Stage and Mediterranean/German food
Our acoustic stage provides a break from the polka while you grab a table and enjoy a pint, or play a game of cornhole. Just feet from the doorstep of the Science Center of Iowa, this year’s lineup of bands features: Mike Fonda, Mike Aceto, Brian Congdon, Ella and the Coffee Shop Mafia, The Sheet and the Old Hippie Machine. New this year, the festival will feature Karam’s Mediterranean Grill putting a Mediterranean twist on some beloved German favorites. Head over to the food truck in Party Plaza to enjoy bratwurst nachos, a lamb bratwurst gyro or a corned beef wrap, among other menu options.

Des Moines Oktoberfest

Des Moines’ Oktoberfest takes place Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29 from 3 p.m.—1 a.m.

Follow Des Moines' Oktoberfest on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @OktoberfestDSM or join the conversation using #ProstDSM