This year the celebration will be held on 26 and 27 September in Hangar 2. Begins on Saturday at 1800. See the Nato Skywatch for more information. If you don’t have a copy, download your own from the base website here: http://www.e3a.nato.int/.

Octoberfest pretty much insinuates that it might take place in October, and I think in “real Germany” that it does. Munich is supposed to be where the biggest parties are.

Here, the NATO base, trying not to interfere with people’s potential travel plans to attend the “real” Octoberfest parties, schedules their celebration for September. It is two days long.

The crazy “drink until you drop and dance to German folk music until the sun rises the next morning” day is Saturday. Sunday is family day.

It’s held in a hanger by the flight line. Although a certain amount of atmosphere is lost when an event is held in an ugly army green hanger, I’ve grown accustomed to events like this and so will you if you’re not already. The small dance floor and stage take the center with tables and long benches all around. Lining the walls of the hanger is where you’ll find souveniers, food, games, candy, and (drum roll, please) …. BEER. ‘Cause, that’s the point, isn’t it?

There are actually two big beer/beverage tents – the busiest areas of the place, one carnival style game giving away traditionally tacky oversized stuffed critters of all kinds, couple booths selling things like t-shirts and beer steins, a long food booth area, and a wonderful candy booth selling hot candy roasted nuts. The hot roasted almonds are delicious! The candy booths are at seemingly all German events and all the Christmas markets. They always have the hot candied nuts and all things gummy, licorice, chocolates, and the large frosted lebkuchen hearts that hang from above. (The big cookie hearts? Not so delicious) The food served is traditional… bratwurst in brotchen, hex (a large chunk of pork on a bone), a half roasted chicken, etc. They also serve big radishes that people eat raw like an apple.

Instead of money, you buy tokens at the entrance. Buy only what you need, because they don’t reimburse you for unused tokens.

The German bands are dressed for the party. Most wear lederhosen. Some wear wigs and aprons. They all looked very silly, but have a great time. They play on the stage and around the picnic tables standing on them with their instruments and interacting with the crowd. It’s fun to watch the people all enjoying themselves and having a genuinely good time.

The children’s area is in the very front where you enter. There is usually an inflatable jumping thing, face painting, balloons, and a long, narrow area with fun wheeled things to try out. Some are like scooters or low-ride bicycles, but most are the pedals without the rest of the contraption. Just piano style pedals mounted on large wheels. You stand on them and work your feet back and forth and it pushes along. Want to laugh? Try it. It’s harder than it looks!

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