In the early 19th century, a royal wedding in Munich turned into a two-week-long celebration, quickly becoming an annual tradition that persists to this day in the form of festivities from the end of September to the beginning of October. It's estimated that more than 350,000 people attend the Munich celebration each day of Oktoberfest, and while the crowds were greeted with rain and stormy weather on this year's opening day, you still have plenty of time to enjoy the festivities in Florida. Here are some of the ones that stand out, although there are many more all across the bay. — Justin Grant tbt* correspondent
Oktoberfest at the Dubliner Irish Pub: Yes, it's an Irish pub, but the Dubliner has a lot of authentic Oktoberfest goodness lined up on Saturday. German food, live music and craft Oktoberfest beers are combined with events such as stein-holding and, my favorite, a log-sawing competition. The weekend kicks off at 2 p.m. and a $5 admission includes a souvenir beer stein. Dubliner Irish Pub, 2307 W Azeele St., Tampa. thedublineririshpub.com.
Ybor Oktoberfest Pub Crawl: This pub crawl starts at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Centro Ybor courtyard and runs until 8 p.m., or you get lost along the way, whichever comes first. Eighteen bars spanning the Ybor entertainment district will provide free Oktoberfest beers, as well as other craft beers. A $25 ticket includes the tastings, as well as a pub crawl T-shirt and complementary gifts and German food at some of the bars. Centro Ybor, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. yborpubcrawl.com.
2011 Oktoberfest at the German American Society of Pinellas County: This long-running organization celebrates its 60-year anniversary Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 15, with festivities designed to accurately recreate the atmosphere and Gemuetlichkeit of the celebration in Munich. Events include live music, authentic German food, and a liter stein-holding contest. Doors open at 4 p.m.; admission is $6 and children 12 and younger get in free. German American Society of Pinellas County, 8098 66th St. N, Pinellas Park. germantampa.com.
Oktoberfest with Santa's Angels: This German-themed party has German sausages, potato salad, unlimited German beer and wine, and a DJ. 6 p.m. Saturday. Redington Beach Town Park, Gulf Boulevard and 164th Avenue. $25 advance, $30 at the door. (727) 393-0100. townofredingtonbeach.com.
OktoBEERfest: Dunedin Brewery's annual fest kicks off with Literstein Heritage Night at 7 p.m. Oct. 6. Litersteins, the traditional 1-liter glass beer mugs, are required at the brewery's release party for this year's OktoBEERfest Lager. Bring your own or buy one full of beer at the door for $30; refills are $6. On Oct. 7 there's a street party with music and seasonal beers, and starting at noon Oct. 8 is the street gathering, with this year's OktoBEERfest Lager available for purchase among the 20 other hand-crafted, seasonal beers on tap, plus bratwurst, German potato salad and more German cuisine. Live music, too. The Dunedin Brewery is at 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. (727) 736-0606. dunedinbrewery.com/ oktobeerfest.
Largo Oktoberfest: This two-day festival includes live music, homebrews from the Pinellas Urban Brewers Guild and traditional German food. In addition to the food, drink and music, contests such as best stein- and beer-holding are scheduled. On night two, the street will be closed, and the party will continue in the parking lot of O'Shy's. How about these Irish-Germans, eh? Best of all: there's no cover. It's 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Oct. 7-8 at O'Shy's Irish Taphouse, 80 Clearwater-Largo Road N, Largo. (727) 517-6821.
Premiere Oktoberfest: A three-day festival with singing, dancing, shunkeling (swaying on the benches) and live music starts at 3 p.m. Oct. 14, and 11 a.m. Oct. 15-16. The Heights, 1910 Ola Ave., Tampa. $10, designated driver $5.
Brews by the Bay: This Oct. 14 beer fest will feature 80-odd craft beers to sample alongside traditional Oktoberfest varieties, as well as live music and food from more than a dozen local restaurants. Aquarium members get a discount at $45, while regular advance tickets are $50 ($60 on the day of) and VIP tickets $75, including special beer and food pairings, tequila sampling, and a VIP lounge area. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. brewsbythebay.com.
Oktoberfest Tampa: This is the biggest Oktoberfest celebration in Tampa, held Oct. 14-16. Plenty of events are planned, including a stein- hoisting competition sponsored by Sam Adams, keg rolling, and something called Schultz, which sounds suspiciously like the belching contest from Revenge of the Nerds. Kegs of the hard-to-get König Ludwig Oktoberfest Spezial, a brand staking claim to being the "original royal wedding Märzen" will also be available. Presale tickets are $8 for general admission, or $30 to include entry and purchase of "Das Boot," a boot shaped glass from Warsteiner. Tampa Water Works Park, 1710 N Highland Ave., Tampa. oktoberfesttampa.com.
Oktoberfest on the Beach: The 10th anniversary of this Indian Rocks Beach festival will be Oct. 15 and is free. In addition to freely flowing beer and plentiful food, all sorts of competitions for adults are scheduled, from keg throwing to wife carrying. A "Kinderfest" will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., giving kids something to do as well, in the form of dunk tanks, magicians and other activities. Kolb Park, Largo. oktoberfestonthebeach.com.
St. Pete Oktoberfest: The second annual St. Pete Oktoberfest will be Oct. 15, featuring unlimited beer- and wine-tastings for a $30 admission. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will also be on hand, as well as live music. Many craft beer varieties will be served, including local brews by Cold Storage and Evander, as well as wine provided by San Giuseppe and Barefoot. Central Avenue between 20th and 22nd streets, St Petersburg. stpeteokto berfest.com.
Oktoberfest and Family Fall Festival: A four-day family festival with midway rides, games, food, an oversized flea market, Oktoberfest tent, live entertainment and raffles. Oct. 14-15 features live polka music. Oct. 15 is wristband day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Festival starts at 5 p.m. Oct. 13-14; 11 a.m. Oct. 15; and noon Oct. 16. Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, 750 San Salvador Drive, Dunedin. Free admission, but food, ride and game tickets extra. (727) 733-3776.
Rocktoberfest: The Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Oldsmar charity Oldsmar Cares to throw their annual Oktoberfest party, which will feature live music, as well as German beer, wine and food. The kicker here comes in the form of midway rides. No word on whether there will be a Gravitron, but helping a local charity by drinking a few beers seems like a win-win proposition either way. Rocktoberfest will be Oct. 27; admission is $5. Tampa Bay Downs, 11225 Race Track Road, Tampa.
St. Pete Bar Association Oktoberfest: If you drink enough Märzen, you may end up needing a lawyer. Fortunately, the St. Pete Bar Association is hosting an Oktoberfest celebration Nov. 5 along the USF St. Pete campus's waterfront. It's a fine location for such an event, which is open to the public, costs $25 and features unlimited food and drinks. University of South Florida, 140 Seventh Ave. S, St. Petersburg. stpetebar.com.
Contributing: tbt* staff