Harvard Square Celebrates 39th Annual Oktoberfest

Photo courtesy of the Harvard Square Business Association.

Harvard Square’s Oktoberfest first came together in 1978 thanks to Frank Cardullo, owner of traditional German restaurant Wurtshaus.

The restaurant would have celebrated 100 years this year, but after its closing in 1996, the Oktoberfest serves as the restaurant’s legacy and the Cambridge German community’s pride. The early festivals maintained strict adherence to old world customs, but grew to include, in the event organizers’ words, “a more discerningly Cambridge vibe to become an Oktoberfest unlike any other.”

This year’s festival is on Sunday, Oct. 8. Of course, traditional food and beer will be had, but the event boasts the 12th year of activist-minded, horn-based street band movement HONK! (which will be hosting its own festival from Oct. 6-8). To celebrate, an all-HONK! Review is planned on four different stages as well as the traditional HONK! Parade at 1 p.m.

The fest also allows for pillars of the Cambridge music community like Club Passim to showcase both venue favorites and eclectic picks outside their scheduled norm.

“Even though Club Passim is a folk club, you’re going to hear beyond folk music and singer-songwriters,” Passim Outreach Coordinator Jess Phaneuf says about the venue’s lineup this year.

Phaneuf and the Passim team are particularly excited for The Wolff Sisters, a country-tinged folk rock group out of Boston that centers around the Wolff siblings’ swirling vocal harmonies.

“It really rocks,” Phaneuf adds. “Like, more rockin’ than you’d ever expect from the Club Passim stage, but there’s a lot of great, eclectic music throughout the day. We’re a little biased though.”

Just as crucial as the entertainment, food vendors are flocking from all over the world, including a special all-German menu from Grendel’s Den, local stores offering samples, and six beer gardens hosted by The Beat Brasserie, Alden & Harlow, The Hourly Oyster House, Charlie’s Kitchen, John Harvard’s Brew House and The Sinclair.

This year’s full schedule of events can be found here.