Oktoberfest 2015 in Hong Kong and Macau: five places to raise a stein
Think oompah bands and mountains of pork and sauerkraut: the best beer festival destinations in Hong Kong and Macau in October and into November
Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen have a lot to answer for. Specifically, they have a lot of beer, pork- and carb-based food, oompah music and lederhosen to answer for – because it was on the occasion of the couple’s wedding in 1810 that the people of Munich first took to the local Theresienwiese fairgrounds for the giant party that has become known as Oktoberfest.
Originally a horse racing event and then a general cultural festival and funfair, it has grown over the decades into a celebration first and foremost of Germany’s finest export: beer. It has also spread its tentacles throughout the world, including a number of events in Hong Kong – so pick your preferred location, wear something with a loose-fitting waistband, and get ready to raise a stein or several during this weeks-long celebration of the amber fluid.
Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel
No messing about with months here: this event is known as the Marco Polo German Bierfest, the booze in this case is supplied by Erdinger, including a special Oktoberfest beer. Launched in 1992, this is Hong Kong’s oldest celebration of the festival, and takes place in a tent on a giant outdoor deck overlooking the harbour. The parping is provided by German band Die Notenhobler, as it has been since 1994, and there are lots of games and competitions, plus the usual line-up of culinary options (imagine a huge mound of pork, bread and potatoes – green vegetables are roughly as integral to Oktoberfest celebrations as sober people).
Oct 16-Nov 7, Sun-Thur, 6pm-11pm; Fri, Sat, 6pm-11.30pm; Harbour Deck 6, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, HK$120-HK$280 gbfhk.com
Happy Valley Racecourse
Oktoberfest began as a race meeting, supposedly first proposed by a soldier named Franz Baumgartner, who duly went on to win the main race the first time it was held. So it’s fitting that one of Hong Kong’s best-known Oktoberfest celebrations takes place over four nights at Happy Valley Racecourse. On the opening night, the ceremonial first beer will be poured by German Consul-General Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff and Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. The Notenhobler band will also be in attendance on two of the nights, with Talbachbuam performing on the other two. A range of 12 beers comes from brands including Lowenbrau, Erdinger and Beck’s, and a range of games includes one in which the losers get soaked with beer – prepare for a lonely journey home after that one.
October 7, 14, 22, 7pm to 11pm, Happy Valley Racecourse, HK$10, hkjc.com
Not technically an Oktoberfest event, but as beery as it gets and now in the middle of October, Beertopia is now in its fourth year and has all the non-beer-related entertainment typical of Oktoberfest celebrations, including food, bands, DJs and games. But really it’s all about the brew: a festival of what has come in recent years to be known somewhat nebulously as “craft beer”, but which really means “good beer”, the event will assemble more than 500 beers from 117 countries. The UK, the US and Belgium are the best represented, but an impressive 45 beers come from our own shores (where are they all usually?). Last year’s event drew more than 11,000 punters, “Come and drink lots of nice beer overlooking Hong Kong harbour” not being a particularly tough sell; you get to look at the harbour from a different direction this year, however, as the event has moved from West Kowloon to the Central Harbourfront.
Oct 9-10, Friday, 6pm-11pm; Saturday, 12pm-11pm, Central Harbourfront, HK$330-HK$550, beertopiahk.com
Regal Airport Hotel
Perhaps somewhat less of a raucous party than the others, it will at least make for a pleasant surprise if you’re heading into or out of the city by air to find a beer event happening at the airport, and it does have a pretty good beer selection, with more than 50 available, including Erdinger Weissbier, Allgauer Oko Bier and Maisel’s Weisse. There will also be live music performances and a booth offering traditional Bavarian cuisine (pork and potatoes in many forms). And there’s a slightly more cerebral version of traditional Oktoberfest drinking games, based on being able to pronounce German words correctly – probably one to try as early in the evening as possible.
Oct 2-11, Monday-Friday, 12pm-2am; weekends, 3pm-2.30am; Regal Airport Hotel, 9 Cheong Tat Road, Hong Kong International Airport, free entry, regalhotel.com
Whether celebrating a big win at the tables or drowning your sorrows with your few remaining patacas, a festival of indulgence seems pretty fitting for Macau. Now in its seventh year, the MGM event will feature what was the world’s first specially produced Oktoberfest brew, Spaten, from the Spaten-Franziskaner brewery, as well as music from Munich band Hogl Fun. This one also has all sorts of official seals of approval; it’s co-hosted with the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong and the German Macau Business Association, and supported by the Macau Government Tourist Office.
Until October 25, 1pm-8pm, MGM Macau, Avenida Dr Sun Yat Sen, Nape, Macau, 130 patacas, mgmmacau.com