What to know before you go

CINCINNATI – Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the annual celebration of all things German in Cincinnati, returns downtown Thursday through Sunday.

The festival, which annually attracts 675,000 people, returns once again to Second and Third Streets between Walnut and Elm.

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The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the organization that produces the German festival each year, added a few new elements to keep the 45th annual event fresh. Perhaps most important is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati’s addition of Thursday hours to this year’s festivities. You can learn more about this and other changes below.

The opening hours for Oktoberfest Zinzinnati this year are 5:00 p.m. to midnight Thursday; 11 am-midnight. Friday and Saturday; and 11 am-9pm Sunday.

Extended hours: This year, the Oktoberfest Zinzinnati will start on Thursday at 5 p.m. That’s one more whole night of Oktoberfest to enjoy compared to 2019, when the festival started at 11 a.m. on Friday.

The world’s biggest chicken dance also has an earlier start time: 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Oddly enough, the opening ceremonies of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati will take place at noon on Saturday, two days after the start of the festivities.

More room to dance: This weekend, at least a dozen local media figures will lead the world’s biggest chicken dance on nine different stages. That’s eight more stages than in previous years, when Oktoberfest Honorary Grand Marshal (s) Zinzinnati led the crowd in the rousing dance to polka music from the festival’s main stage.

The Uberdrome is back: The Moerlein Lager House tented Überdrome, conspicuously absent from last year’s festivities, will return to the lawn adjacent to The Banks restaurant.

New road closure times: There are two major traffic changes related to Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.
Road closures began on Sunday in preparation for this year’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati celebration.

Officials from the city’s Department of Transportation and Engineering said the following streets would close for most of the week leading up to the annual festival, from 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 12 until 5 p.m. on Monday, 20 September:

  • Second street: closed between Elm and Walnut streets
  • Vine Street / Rosa Parks Street: closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (access to local parking maintained between Fourth Street and Third Street and between Freedom Way and Second Street)
  • Race street: closed between Fourth Street and Freedom Way (access to local parking maintained between Fourth Street and Third Street and between Freedom Way and Second Street)
  • Way to freedom: closed between Marian Spencer Way and Rosa Parks Street

Starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 16:

  • Third street: closed between Walnut and Elm streets
  • Third Street will reopen at 5 a.m. on Monday, September 20.


The “biggest chicken dance in the world”: It still happens. You’ll just have more room to shake your tail feathers.

Sausage race: Leo the dachshund won the Running of the Wieners 2021. Honestly, though? The real winners are the audience members who can watch little dogs frolic in hot dog costumes.

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati opening ceremonies: The official Oktoberfest Zinzinnati ceremonies are a great way to experience the region’s rich German heritage. They offer music, beer, dancing, beer and a procession of local German bands throughout the event. This year the procession will visit and dedicate each beer garden and party tent.

The Gemuetlichkeit games: These goodwill games pitting media figures against each other in fun competitions start an hour earlier this year and in a new location. Matches will begin Friday at noon in front of the Sam Adams main stage.

The World Kid Eating Championship: This is the only event missing from this year’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. Of course, no one said you can’t have your own bratwurst contest with your friends.

Live entertainment: The groups will perform on nine stages located on Second and Third Streets. Tap the map icons below for stage locations and show times or check out the entertainment tab at www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.


Oktoberfest Zinzinnati wouldn’t be the same without eating at least a beer and a kid – and we mean the least. There will be over 100 varieties of beer and 200 food items for sale among vendors, festival tents and beer gardens at Oktoberfest.

You can check out the full list of food, beer, and vendor offerings and locations here.

About Victoria Rothstein

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