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Don your Lederhosen: Oktoberfest Celebrations


Watch Bavarian-style dancers at Octoberfest Toronto. Photo by Tom Pandi.

Since the first festival more than 200 years ago, Oktoberfest has become a popular celebration worldwide—and Toronto is no exception. Get your Bavarian fun fix at these three events.

  1. September 30 to October 1 For two days, Oktoberfest Toronto transforms the grounds of Ontario Place into a Munich-style party featuring folk dancers, non-stop polka music, plenty of food, and a selection of German and European beers. Visit torontooktoberfest.ca for more details. Festivities include a tapping of the keg party and an “Ein Prosit” party for the over 19 crowd. All ages will enjoy Saturday’s Volksfest Carnival, which features games, hat-decorating, rides, and contests.
  1. September 30 to October 9 With traditional beer hall decor, a keg-tapping ceremony, and “oom-pah-pah” bands, the party at Amsterdam BrewHouse strives to be as the close to the real thing as you can get outside of Deutschland. Enjoy your favourite sausages and soft pretzels, as well as a special beer brewed on site and served in one-litre steins. Make sure you show up early, as tickets are limited, and most of the seating is first-come first-serve.
  1. For a modern take on the German beer hall experience year-round, visit WVRST. There’s a wide selection of sausages—try the likes of bison, kangaroo and duck—paired with an even wider selection of local craft beers and ciders. —Karen Stevens


Weekend Roundup: October 5 to 7

Friday: The Evergreen Brick Works gets an East Coast makeover for Alexander Keith’s birthday bash

Friday, October 5
East Coast King of Brews Alexander Keith’s celebrates 217 years in the beer business with a party at the Evergreen Brick Works. Your $10 tickets gets you free shuttle service, an exclusive performance by Matt Mays and a drink to pair with Toronto food vendors’ fare, specially created to go perfectly with a cool pint of Keith’s.

Spekt! Bier! Lederhosen! Celebrate German tradition (and happy hour) with Toronto Oktoberfest at St. Lawrence Market. Live entertainment, including oom-pah bands and a Bavarian strongman, helps get you into the Deutsch spirit in a traditional beer hall environment.

The Wiggles are touring together for the last time as Greg, Jeff and Murray prepare to leave the famous foursome after 21 years performing favourites like “Hot Potato” and “Rock a Bye Your Bear.” Take the kids to say farewell tonight at the Ricoh Coliseum—and watch out for three new wiggles to join remaining member Anthony in the near future. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for September 28 to 30


Crystal Pite’s “The Tempest Replica” is being staged at at the NAC on Thursday and Friday. Photo © Jörg Baumann

Vancouver-based contemporary dance company Kidd Pivot will present the full-length work The Tempest Replica tonight at the National Arts Centre. Choreographed by Crystal Pite, the performance is a narrative retelling of the iconic Shakespeare play – dance, original music and film work together in this creative adaptation. As a special bonus, Pite will be available after Friday’s show for a post-performance chat! Audience members are encouraged to join in and share their thoughts on the work.

Beau’s Oktoberfest returns to the Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds. Tickets for Saturday have sold out, but there’s still time to get in on Friday night’s festivities. Featuring music by Ottawa’s The Flaps, Change of Heart, Elliott Brood and Hollerado, the entertainment lineup alone is worth the $18 admission price. If you’re in the mood for some rowdier fun, sign up for any one of the event’s epic competitions: there will be keg tosses, stein-holding competitions, spouse-carrying races and sausage-eating contests going down on Friday night. For an even more authentic experience, stop by Oktoberfest on Sunday for traditional folk dancing by Schuhplattlergruppe Alpenland, and polka music by Walter Ostanek.

This weekend, volunteers from across the country will band together to help promote the arts in Canadian communities. The third annual Culture Days weekend will feature thousands of free, interactive events that offer the public a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of local artists, historians, architects, designers, curators and more. It all begins tonight with the Culture Days launch at the Ottawa Art Gallery. For the full schedule of events in your area, visit www.culturedays.ca.


Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park. Photo © National Capital Commission

The annual Fall Rhapsody celebrations begin this weekend in Gatineau Park! Organized by the National Capital Commission, the event invites visitors to set out and explore over 90 kilometres of trails located on the park’s grounds. Throughout the season (which runs until Oct. 14), there will be plenty of free family activities and educational programs taking place at the Visitor Centre. And don’t forget to grab your camera: Lookouts at various points along the trail offer unbeatable views of the Ottawa Valley and the Gatineau Hills.

If you are of the mindset that one Oktoberfest per weekend just isn’t enough, well, you’re in luck: Oktoberfest Ottawa 2012 – a three-day celebration of beer, Bavarian food and oompah music held at Clarke Field in Barrhaven  – will be taking place this Friday through Sunday. The event will feature musical performances by Bearshark, Julian Taylor Band, and The Bushpilots, among others. Also on the bill is a special guest appearance by actor George Wendt, who is best known for his portrayal of Norm on the popular TV sitcom Cheers. 

The Manly Man Ramp Jam is taking place this Saturday afternoon at Legacy Skate Park. Hosted by Ottawa-based skate shop Antique, Vans, and Gatineau’s En Équilibre, the event will see some of the city’s top pro and amateur skaters judged on their “style, skill and sexiness.” The youth competition begins at 2pm, with the adult category (or “old man jam,” as they like to call it) taking over at 4pm. Local DJ Skellzo will be putting together a mix for the day, and there will be plenty of barbecue to go around!


Last year’s Harvest Noir was held outside the Museum of Civilization. This year’s location is still under wraps! Photo © Byfield Pitman Photography

Following the trend set by cities like Paris, New York, Amsterdam and Berlin, Ottawa will be hosting its very own Harvest Noir this Sunday night. Set in a secret location that will be revealed just hours before the event begins, Harvest Noir invites guests to dress up in their best black clothing, and honour the autumn harvest with an outdoor picnic and pop-up parade. Featuring locally sourced food (which guests prepare and bring themselves), wine, beer and bubbly, the epic feast will be followed by a massive dance party at a separate undisclosed venue.

Today’s your last chance to check out Doors Open Gananoque! This is a great opportunity to experience a variety of heritage sites around eastern Ontario, many of which are rarely seen by the public. Stops on this year’s tour include the former home of Gananoque’s first mayor, William Byers; the Athlone Inn; and the Gananoque Spring and Axle Company. There are plenty more Doors Open Ontario events planned for this year, as well. Visit their website for a full list of participating towns and cities.

The Merrickville Artists Guild is hosting its final studio tour of the season this weekend. Now in its 28th year, the tour has grown to be one of the largest events held annually in Merrickville and the surrounding area. The tour is free and self-guided, and offers visitors the chance to meet and interact with 26 artists in 23 different work spaces. This year’s selections include paintings, hot glass, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, textile arts, metalsmithing and letterpress printing.

Just in time for Oktoberfest: Big Rock debuts SAAZ Republic Pilsner

Local brewery Big Rock has unveiled a new brew, perfectly timed for Oktoberfest. Fifth in its Brewmaster’s Edition seasonal beer series, the SAAZ Republic Pilsner is a light lager, generously spiced with Czech hops. Considering the current craze for bold, bitter hops in many craft beers, this throwback to the classic European pilsner style is refreshingly smooth and balanced.

WURST’s pretzels and pilsner, a classic Oktoberfest combo. Photo: Adele Brunnhofer.

Debuting the beer at WURST Restaurant & Beer Hall last week was apropos. Its lively lower-floor German-style beer hall played host while brewmaster Paul Gautreau spoke about his latest creation to a packed house. (more…)