Fall in NYC

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October is a month of magic, especially if you live in New York City. There is an almost imperceptible click in the air as the season finally shifts from long, sweltering days to crisp, autumnal nights.

One minute, I’m melting into a pool of humidity and despair. The next, I’m grabbing my wool socks and lighting my spiced apple candles. Sadly, the magic and mystery of Fall in NYC lasts for about thirty seconds, so it’s crucial to maximize your adventures before the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Aside from my favorite parts of October – apple picking, pumpkin patches, and spooky season (stay tuned) – there is also a brew-filled reason to get outside and smell the sausages…


October in NYC. Photo by Unsplash
October in NYC. Photo by Unsplash

What is Oktoberfest?

Dating back to the 1800s, Oktoberfest is a fall festival that highlights and celebrates Bavarian culture. It’s also the world’s largest Volkfest, or “people’s festival”, typically featuring a beer festival and a traveling carnival.

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While the carnival doesn’t always make it out to play, Oktoberfest celebrations have taken the world by storm. Traditionally kicking off on the first Sunday in October, you can expect a month filled with keg taps, hammer throws, pig roasts, and more.

2.	Oktoberfest in NYC. Photo by Aurie Ceylon
Oktoberfest in NYC. Photo by Aurie Ceylon

Quick History Lesson

Oktoberfest was initially called Theresienwiese, or “Theresa’s Meadow” in honor of Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. When Princess Therese married King Ludwig in 1810, Theresienwiese was created to honor and celebrate the newlyweds.

The festivities originally featured a large horse race, but performances and a parade were later added. Fast forward a couple of centuries and Oktoberfest morphed into a global full-scale 16-day celebration.

The dates have shifted over the years, but Oktoberfest now loosely takes place from late September through the end of October.

German sausages. Photo by Canva
German sausages. Photo by Canva

Oktoberfest in New York City

Okay, so now that we’re all caught up on the history of this Bavarian turnup, what should you do? Where should you go? As a proud resident of The Big Apple, I know how overstimulating Oktoberfest in New York City can be.

Pop into almost any neighborhood pub in all five boroughs from late September through late October and you will find yourself at a brew-filled palooza. With perfect fall weather slipping through your fingers, the panic to find the perfect New York City Oktoberfest celebration can be daunting.

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But, not to fear, readers. This NYC Spinster has already done the work for you.

What is the Best Oktoberfest in NYC?

Stick with me as I walk you through my all-time favorite Oktoberfest celebration in New York City. All you need to do is kick back, relax, and enjoy the Bratwurst.

So, grab your Lederhosen and take the N or W train to the end of the line, readers.

We’re going to Astoria.

Read More: Top 10 Reasons to Visit New York City

Bohemian Beer Garden. Photo by Aurie Ceylon
Bohemian Beer Garden. Photo by Aurie Ceylon

Oktoberfest at Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden

Merited as the “oldest beer garden in New York City”, the Bohemian Beer Garden was founded in 1910 and is nestled on a quiet street in the heart of Astoria, Queens.

Encased in high stone walls and a very ominous front gate, the beer garden looks more like a fortress than a historic venue for celebrations. While the exterior of the garden might give you the creeps, don’t be fooled.

The moment you step through the doors, you will be transported back in time to a (far less creepy) world gone by.

History of Bohemian Beer Garden

Bohemian Beer Garden was originally founded and created by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria, an organization created in 1892 with the mission to “support Czech and Slovak immigrants to the area, as well as people of Czech and Slovak ancestry”.

With an influx of Czech and Slovak people in the late 1800s, the Society raised funds to create a center for members of their community. In 1910, they were able to purchase two adjacent lots and a piece of farmland, and on October 1, 1910, the cornerstone was laid and Bohemian Garden was born.

It is one of the few remaining beer gardens in New York City and is viewed as a historic landmark by its patrons and Astoria citizens.

P.S. October 1, 2023, officially marked Bohemian’s 113th birthday…Whoa!

The Best Parts of Bohemian Oktoberfest

The Food

Perhaps this goes without saying, but Bohemian’s Oktoberfest menu includes the very best of Bavarian and German cuisine. Aside from their standard Schnitzel and Goulash, their specialty menu also includes Bratwurst, loaded Bavarian fries, and Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese fondue!

The crowd certainly enjoyed the menu, and – as a gluten-free foodie – I found plenty of celiac-friendly meals and snacks to suit both my taste buds and my budget.

Oktoberfest Beer. Photo by Canva
Oktoberfest Beer. Photo by Canva

The Drinks (Not Just for the Beer Drinkers!)

Even before my Celiac diagnosis, I was never the biggest bear drinker. Luckily, for those of us not titillated by the foam of a fresh keg, Bohemian’s Oktoberfest offerings include plenty of gluten-free and non-alcoholic options.

Whether from a keg or a can, non-beer drinkers can enjoy an array of options that make them feel just as included in the booze-fueled festivities.

Book a ticket for another fun fall-time NYC adventure: Halloween Harvest at Luna Park in Coney Island

Brass band. Photo by Canva
Brass band. Photo by Canva

The Entertainment

It is no understatement that Oktoberfest at Bohemian feels like a party. During my afternoon of festivities, two bands played generous sets; one big brass, and one grungy alternative. Sipping my (gluten-free) cider while listening to angsty 90’s rock made my inner grungy teenager smile.

People of all ages – including some of Astoria’s youngest residents – gathered to cheer and dance. (Who knew Oktoberfest in New York City could be so family-friendly?)

P.S. Did you know that Bohemian hosts monthly silent discos?

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The Community. Photo by Aurie Ceylon
The Community. Photo by Aurie Ceylon

The Community

Maybe it’s because of the intimate location.

Maybe it’s because of the history of Bohemian, but the community that serves the beer hall is as varied as their draft list. Queens has been arguably coined as New York City’s most diverse borough, and that is evident in the membership of Bohemian.

Across all ages and demographics, Bohemian truly has something for everyone. Family-friendly events and entertainment span from day to night. Adults are welcome to dine, drink, and play.

This close-knit community makes you feel like you are an essential member of Bohemian’s VIP list. Every spot is a front-row seat to the action and excitement. You will never leave Bohemian with FOMO– they work diligently to make sure everyone is part of the action.

Read More: Redesigned Concorde Hotel is a Luxury Homebase in the Heart of Manhattan

Wonderful friends and memories at Oktoberfest in New York City. Photo by Aurie Ceylon
Wonderful friends and memories at Oktoberfest in New York City. Photo by Aurie Ceylon

Final Thoughts

What a full and busy day of Oktoberfest in New York City! This NYC Spinster is thrilled and honored to live in such a historic community and to be able to celebrate the 113th birthday of what is widely revered as a must-see establishment in my borough.

As a Queens Kween, it fills me with immense pride to share the history and wonders of Bohemian Beer Garden with New Yorkers, national travelers, and everyone in between.

This Spinster Traveler spent her day surrounded by her favorite people, enjoying food and drinks from a world gone by. I am so happy to say that my New York City Oktoberfest was – without a doubt – the best one yet.

I can’t wait to see what other festivities (and gluten-free options) await me in the seasons ahead.

Check out Bohemian Beer Garden’s events and Oktoberfest activities all month long.

What are you waiting for?

Author Bio: Aurie Ceylon is a writer, reader, and traveler from New York, NY. A quirky and self-proclaimed “spinster”, she writes detailed exploits of her travels, favorite eats, and love & relationship blunders on her blog – Spinster Stories. Aurie is finding joy and healing through her travel adventures. Stick with this spinster as she fills her heart – and stomach – in small towns across America.

P.S. – For video footage of Aurie’s Oktoberfest adventures, check out her travel Instagram: @heyitsaurie

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