CINCINNATI — Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Cincinnati's annual celebration of all things German, returns Downtown this Thursday through Sunday.
The festival, which annually draws 675,000 people, returns once again to Second and Third streets between Walnut and Elm.
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The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the organization that produces the German fest each year, has added a few new elements to keep the 45th annual event fresh. Perhaps the biggest is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati's addition of Thursday hours to this year's festivities. You can learn more about that and other changes below.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati's hours this year are 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.
WHAT'S NEW THIS YEAR (A LOT)
Expanded hours: This year’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati will kick off at 5 p.m. Thursday. That’s a whole evening more of Oktoberfest to enjoy compared to last 2019, when the festival began at 11 a.m. Friday.
The World's Largest Chicken Dance also has an earlier start time: 4 p.m. Saturday.
Oddly enough, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati's opening ceremonies will take place at noon Saturday, two days after festivities begin.
More room to dance: This weekend, at least a dozen local media personalities will lead the World’s Largest Chicken Dance from nine different stages. That’s eight more stages than in past years, when Oktoberfest Zinzinnati’s honorary grand marshal(s) would lead the crowd in the rousing dance set to polka music from just the festival’s main stage.
The Überdrome returns: The Moerlein Lager House’s tented Überdrome, conspicuously absent during last year’s festivities, will return to the lawn adjacent to the restaurant at The Banks.
New road closure hours: There are two significant traffic changes related to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.
Road closures began Sunday in preparation for this year's Oktoberfest Zinzinnati celebration.
Officials with the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering said the following streets would close for most of the week leading up to the annual festival, beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, through 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20:
- Second Street: closed between Elm and Walnut streets
- Vine Street/Rosa Parks Street: closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (local parking access maintained between Fourth and Third streets and between Freedom Way and Second Street)
- Race Street: closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (local parking access maintained between Fourth and Third streets and between Freedom Way and Second Street)
- Freedom Way: closed between Marian Spencer Way and Rosa Parks Street
Beginning 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16:
- Third Street: closed between Walnut and Elm streets
- Third Street will reopen at 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20.
OKTOBERFEST ZINZINNATI FAVORITES
The "World's Largest Chicken Dance": It is still happening. You’ll just have more space to shake your tail feathers.
Running of the Wieners: Leo the Dachshund won the 2021 Running of the Wieners. Honestly, though? The real winners are the audience members who get to watch tiny dogs scamper around in hot dog costumes.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati opening ceremonies: The Oktoberfest Zinzinnati official ceremonies are a great way to experience the region’s rich German heritage. They feature music, beer, dancing and a procession of local German groups throughout the event. This year the procession will visit and dedicate each biergarten and fest tent.
The Gemuetlichkeit Games: These goodwill games that pit media personalities against one another in fun competitions start an hour earlier this year and at a new location. The games will begin at noon Friday in front of the Sam Adams main stage.
The World Brat Eating Championship: This is the one event missing from this year’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Of course, no one said you can’t hold your own bratwurst-eating competition with your friends.
Live entertainment: Bands will play on nine stages located across Second and Third streets. Tap on the icons in the map below for stage locations and showtimes or check out the entertainment tab at www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.
THE FOOD AND DRINKS
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati wouldn't be the same without eating at least a beer and a brat -- and we mean least. There will be more than 100 varieties of beer and 200 food items for sale among the vendors, festival tents and beer gardens at Oktoberfest.
You can check out the full list of food, beer and vendor offerings and locations here.