Prost! Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest

The ceremonial tapping of the first keg of beer kicks off Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest on Oct....

The ceremonial tapping of the first keg of beer kicks off Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest on Oct. 11. (Handout)

Jim Fox, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

“Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi.”

Anyone who has heard that untranslatable-but-familiar chant is apparently ready to party.

Loosely translated, it means “down the hatch,” as revellers chug a beer and finish it off with a round of polkas before roaring into another rousing chorus of Ein Prosit, the Bavarian beer drinking anthem.

That can only mean it’s time to roll out the barrel (of fun) for Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest.

Expect to see men in lederhosen (leather shorts) suspenders and felt hats adorned with pins and huge feathers while women dress in dirndls – often low-cut and tight-fitting dresses with flowing skirts.

Some might be engaged in a polka-type dance while imitating chickens to an oom-pah song.

Don’t worry because everything is wunderbar (wonderful) at the festival that’s the biggest outside Munich, Germany.


Once the official tapping of the first keg of beer happens, the good times will roll from Oct. 11 through 19 in a nod to the Kitchener area’s German heritage.

There will be a frothy cheer erupting from celebrants at the tapping next Friday at 11:15 a.m. at Kitchener Civic Square as they get into the spirit(s).

Assisting president Harry Vogt with be a newly crowned Miss Oktoberfest and the huge orange-costumed ambassador Onkel Hans wearing a prosit hat.

This 45th annual Oktoberfest has grown from a weekend event in one festhalle to a nine-day, internationally known party that attracts 700,000 participants.

Along with pilsners to wash down tonnes of sausages, pigtails, schnitzel, sauerkraut and strudel, it’s a taste of traditional German cuisine and entertainment, along with some culture, too.

“The festive spirit of Oktoberfest is incredibly contagious,” said Minto Schneider, general manager of Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corp.

“It’s hard not to enjoy yourself and have a great time when you’re surrounded by oom-pah music, amazing food and a great crowd of people who’ve come out to celebrate together,” he added.

The celebrations are in the spirit of gemuetlichkeit (good times) encompassing 18 festhalls and more than 40 family and cultural events to assist charities.


Highlights include a huge Thanksgiving Day parade on Oct. 14 starting at 8:15 a.m.

It attracts 150,000 people who line a five-kilometre route to see more than 100 floats and marching bands.

OktoberFEAST, with “gourmet food trucks”, serve up their specialties on Oct. 12 and 13 in the Waterloo Public Square.

The Willkommen Platz “Bavarian village” in downtown Kitchener is open daily with entertainment on the children's stage, activities, souvenirs, food and a bier garten (beer garden).

Festhalls are where the most activities and festivities can be found, such as oom-pah bands, Bavarian dancers and cuisine.

They are at K-W’s five German clubs and other locations including Bingemans and Chicopee Ski and Summer Resort.

Details at


All Hallows Eve Ghost Tours return to Old Fort Erie (350 Lakeshore Rd.) to “experience the traditions of Halloween, 1812-style.”

This is “brought to life through the ghosts of Canada’s bloodiest battlefield” as staff at the Niagara Parks Commission fort prepare for tours on Oct. 19, 25 and 26, said publicist Stephen Murdoch.

Starting at 7:30 p.m., they are billed as a “fun and frightening evening suitable for all ages” that includes the burning of a Guy Fawkes’ effigy and refreshments.

Visitors see the fort “from the perspective of the spirits who still make their presence felt,” with story-telling and ancient Halloween traditions.

Tickets are $12.25; $7.95, children ages six to 12; free to age five.