It all began in Germany with a royal wedding on a sunny October day in 1810. Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig welcomed the people of Munich to a festival celebrating his marriage to Princess Therese Charlotte Luise of Saxony-Hildburghausen. For five days, folks partied in the fields adjacent to the city gates, capping the festivities with a horse race. Anniversary celebrations took place the following year, and from that the tradition of Oktoberfest was born.
Here in Utah, one year after the aerial tram began making laps with skiers packed aboard, Snowbird kicked off its own Oktoberfest tradition in 1972. 2023 marks the 51st anniversary of Snowbird’s annual Oktoberfest, one of Utah's longest-running cultural events. Spanning August through October, thousands of guests are expected to travel to Snowbird to enjoy the scene and suds. Snowbird's Oktoberfest kicks off August 12th and will run on weekends and holidays, from noon until 6 pm, until October 15th.
Beer, Live Music, and Alphorns
The pageantry and spectacle of Oktoberfest, paired with the opportunity to escape the valley heat or admire the beautiful fall foliage is what makes this event so popular. Expect fantastic people watching as enthusiasts don traditional and exquisite handmade garb.
With over 50 varieties of beer and a huge biergarten, patrons can enjoy both traditional German-style beers and local craft beers. For those not beholden to beer, visit the outdoor bar at The Forklift. Live music will featured on two different stages and the billowing calls of the Alphorns can be witnessed each day from atop Hidden Peak at 3 pm.
It's not just about beer and brats. This Oktoberfest has many family-friendly activities with face-painting, street performers, and all of the incredible summer activities Snowbird is known for. Try the alpine slide, mountain coaster, or the brand new ZipWhipper. There's ropes course for big folks and a mini-ropes course for the kids. There's a bungee trampoline and summer tubing. Take a leisurely ride up the Peruvian chairlift and hike down. Or take a tram ride up to the top of the mountain in the new tram car or, beginning this year, on top of the tram car with the rooftop balcony.
Check out the food
Many vendors from near and far will be present to hawk unique gifts and souvenirs, which are fun to admire while enjoying the cool mountain air. Traditional German fare, including bratwurst, sauerkraut, spaetzle, apple strudel, pretzels, beef rouladen, and more, will provide ample sweet and savory food in addition to Snowbird’s usual dining options.
A more scenic and diverting escape from the valley would be tough to find. Be sure to head up to Snowbird this summer or fall to enjoy Oktoberfest. Prost!
Tips for Making the Most of Snowbird’s Oktoberfest
Pro Tip: Subscribe to Snowbird’s email list for lodging and spa/activity specials to make a long weekend or staycation. This is a fantastic option since you can fully indulge in Oktoberfest without the added worry of finding a ride home or designating a sober driver.
Buy a commemorative 1-liter Snowbird Oktoberfest Mug to knock a few bucks off your beer purchase. They are fun to collect each year!
Drink plenty of water and pack the sunscreen! The elevation at Snowbird is such that dehydration is exacerbated (plus you’ll be drinking alcohol) and the sun’s UV rays are more intense.
Leave the pooch at home. Though a festival is often a fun and exciting scene for the 4-legged members of your family, Snowbird lies within the Salt Lake Protected Watershed, and dogs are not permitted up Little Cottonwood Canyon.
If you have traditional German garb or costumery, wear it! Many people dress up for the event and a good number of Snowbird’s employees will also be dressed to impress.
Due to the popularity of this event, parking is limited and Snowbird will be charging a fee for a parking space. Please do your part to carpool and help reduce congestion and emissions in the canyon. We came up here for the fresh air, after all!
Practice the following phrase several times before heading off to Oktoberfest: “Halt deine Lederhosen fest!” [hahlt dey-neh leh-dehr-ho-sehn fest] which means: “Hold onto your Lederhosen!”