Why You Should Visit These Canadian Twin Cities, Home To The World’s Second-Largest Oktoberfest

Want to celebrate Oktoberfest but can’t make it to Munich? Consider the Canadian twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. 

Located just 62 miles from Toronto, these two cities every have their very own municipal governments however vacationers often contemplate it one vacation spot. That’s for good cause as there are such a lot of unbelievable attractions and festivals that unite the 2 cities — and many of the small cities round them. The best event of all is Oktoberfest.

The metropolis of Kitchener was truly generally known as the town of Berlin till 1916 when World War I-era nationalism demanded a more British-sounding identify. But the German heritage of the area remains to be flourishing, one thing reflected within the area’s unbelievable Oktoberfest celebrations. While the annual autumn competition takes place in late September and early October, Kitchener-Waterloo is an unimaginable place to visit all yr spherical if you love artwork, history, and tradition — one thing I realized for myself firsthand on a current press trip.

How To Get There

Visiting Kitchener-Waterloo is simple. It’s a short train or bus experience from Toronto and the cities also have their very own airport. Those driving up from the United States shall be happy to know that Kitchener-Waterloo is simply over 2 hours from Buffalo and just over 3 hours from Detroit. 

Flowers at the Waterloo Heritage Village

Photo credit score: Vanessa Chiasson


Kitchener-Waterloo’s Oktoberfest is the second-largest Oktoberfest on the planet (after Munich, of course). It’s additionally North America’s largest Bavarian competition of any sort and Canada’s best Thanksgiving parade. By any measurement, this is a large event and never just because of the number of people that attend (about 700,000 in pre-pandemic times). 

At Oktoberfest, visitors can anticipate reside music, traditional feasts and harvest dinners, and golf tournaments. Oh, and there’s beer — a nice deal of it! The Biergarten is open each Friday and Saturday all through the festival (which, in 2022, runs from September 23 to October 15). The official ceremonial keg tapping takes place on October 7, however don’t worry – there’s loads of brew free flowing in the weeks beforehand. 

What actually makes the Kitchener-Waterloo occasion stand out isn’t the lengthy calendar of events or the fun of the Biergarten however what organizers call Gemütlichkeit. On their website, they clarify that the occasion is all about: “Friends, household, and having a GREAT time! That’s what the Ultimate Oktoberfest Experience is all about.” Around Oktoberfest, it’s known as Gemütlichkeit and it has no direct English translation, but primarily means “coziness.” Other people translate it into “kind-heartedness.” In any case, it’s all about having an excellent time with the individuals and neighbors you’re eager on.

As you may nicely have guessed, there’s a big community of people with German heritage in Kitchener-Waterloo, but at Oktoberfest, everyone is welcome to eat, drink, and be merry. The occasion is as much about group spirit as it is about cultural connections. Some 70 charities and nonprofit groups profit from the occasion.

Celebrating A City Of Festivals

While Oktoberfest is undeniably the best-known competition within the Kitchener-Waterloo space, the city really boasts a year-round schedule of wonderful occasions. During my August visit, the annual Kitchener Blues Festival was going down. I was shocked by how many big-name acts have been in attendance, and in addition that the competition was free. The annual event likes to boast that they’re the largest true blues competition in Canada (as many occasions that characteristic blues have migrated over to pop and rock). Visitors can count on every thing from intimate performances to large-scale concert events, plus tons of devoted volunteers keeping every thing operating smoothly.

On the listing for my subsequent visit is the Christkindl Market. This German-style Christmas market provides skating, hot mulled wine, a reside nativity scene, choir performances, European-inspired holiday treats, and lots of buying alternatives. 

Art lovers may also recognize the lineup on the Grand River Film Festival going down in May. The week-long occasion offers up native, Canadian, and worldwide movies, plus loads of lively discussion panels. 

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival. Homemade apple butter is a sort of products that I go crazy for. Whenever I see a new bottle, I really have to buy it. As such, after I heard that the community of Wellesley had a whole competition dedicated to it, I knew I needed to unfold the message far and broad. Taking place on the final Saturday in September, this delicious event is rather more than a small foodie festival. It’s actually a strong celebration of the harvest season. My only regret about this occasion is that there doesn’t seem like an apple butter contest, as I was clearly born to evaluate such an event.

Entrance of the Ken Seiling Museum

Entrance of the Ken Seiling Museum

Photo credit: Vanessa Chiasson

Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum

Sometimes, community-history museums is usually a bit uninteresting and dusty. That positively isn’t the case here! Of all the places I’ve ever visited, the Ken Seiling is likely considered one of the best-organized museums of its kind. Artifacts and reveals are nicely curated and there could be a strong concentrate on the people of the realm, rather than just relics of the previous. For instance, I had no idea that there was such a robust group of Newfoundlanders dwelling in Kitchener-Waterloo — a enjoyable case examine of inside migration shaping totally different regions of Canada. 

Blacksmith working at the Heritage Village

Blacksmith working on the Heritage Village

Photo credit: Vanessa Chiasson

Doon Heritage Village

I’m being a bit cheeky by listing the Ken Seiling Museum and the Doon Heritage Village as two separate things to do, as they’re really a combo package. The Doon Heritage Village begins instantly outdoors the backdoors of the museum, a setup that nicely compliments the entire information you learned inside on the exhibitions. This step back in time showcases a heritage village with the help of costumed interpreters. Based on my go to, kids get an actual kick out of the blacksmith pounding away at his red-hot metal. One of the final buildings — which holds gleaming red, old style hearth preventing tools — was a poignant reminder of just how susceptible these communities and their timber buildings as quickly as were.

The Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery is the one institution of its sort within the nation dedicated to up to date ceramics, glass, and copper enameling. I admittedly hadn’t given this medium a lot thought before my visit and I was blown away by simply how colourful everything was. If you (like me) think about clay as being a bit muddy and glass as being translucent, prepare to have all your assumptions turned upside down. The gallery additionally has an extensive lineup of particular events, programming, workshops, and even summer time kids’ camps. Admission is free, in case you want an additional temptation to pop in and check out this outstanding house. I assume it will be perfect on a cold winter’s day when you want an extra jolt of color and light-weight.

Exterior of the St. Jacobs market building

Exterior of the St. Jacobs market building

Photo credit score: Vanessa Chiasson

St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market

One of Toronto’s largest and best-known markets, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is rather more than a spot to grab fruits and veggies (though, once I was there, I fell in love with the peaches and noticed other individuals hauling house large bushels of pickling cucumbers!) Since 1952, that is really a spot to see and be seen — market style. People connect with their neighbors, chat about the crops, and ponder recipes. In addition to the traditional out of doors market stalls, there’s an indoor building that has ready meals, crafts, toiletries, and more, plus another constructing for antique vendors. In 2023, issues will get even greater when a espresso roaster and brewery are added to the site.

Outside the "Kissing Bridge"

Outside the “Kissing Bridge”

Photo credit score: Vanessa Chiasson

West Montrose Kissing Bridge

I thought lined bridges had loads of appeal, but once I learned that they’re nicknamed “kissing bridges,” I knew that issues couldn’t get any cozier! The nickname is a nod to the fact that courting couples using in a horse and carriage may use the seclusion of a covered bridge to steal a kiss away from the prying eyes of neighbors. And, the one in West Montrose, only a brief drive from the city center, is about as romantic as they get. It’s additionally the final of its kind in all of Ontario. If you’re capable of finding a safe spot to tug over (and not block any driveways), ensure to do so whereas also grabbing a great photograph. 

Incidentally, there’s a lot of dialogue in the space about how to best preserve the West Montrose bridge. Should heritage materials be bolstered with trendy steel? This is the very dilemma that’s being debated proper now.

Pro Tip: Grab A Readable Souvenir At Words Worth Books

A vital a half of the community since 1984, this charming unbiased bookstore is filled with interesting titles and a full calendar of occasions. Six different book golf equipment are supported by Words Worth Books — and yes, visitors are welcome! The shop frequently hosts creator readings and their number of mystery and cookbook titles is especially good.

For extra annual occasions occurring all around the nation, take a glance at these articles:

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