Ala Moana's Oktoberfest

Edelweiss band adds flavor to Bavarian festival for 34th consecutive year

By: Dawna Robertson

Hawaii’s largest and longest running Oktoberfest will return to the Ala Moana Hotel Oct. 5-10, with the familiar clamor of cowbells, polka, hearty sing-a-longs, flagons of beer and a menu of authentic German dishes.

As one of Hawaii’s most anticipated cultural celebrations of the year, Ala Moana’s Oktoberfest has become a popular gathering spot for Island residents and visitors alike since the celebration began at the hotel in 1970. In a destination more familiar with the cultures and influences of the Far East and South Pacific, this Bavarian-themed festival has grown in appeal for its authenticity.

“People really enjoy getting together with family and friends to experience the German music, food and all of the cultural aspects associated with Oktoberfest,” said John Cushnie, general manager of the Ala Moana Hotel. “It’s one of the best times to be at the Ala Moana Hotel, and we’re looking forward to another fun and exciting year.”

This year’s Oktoberfest will see the return of the Edelweiss Band, there from the beginning of this 34-year tradition. Edelweiss has a history of keeping the crowd on its feet all night with upbeat polka tunes, including the popular “Chicken Dance” song.

According to Keith Koehler, director of food and beverage, the popularity of Ala Moana’s event over other Oktoberfest celebrations is its high quality.

“We have the longest running Oktoberfest in Hawaii, with our band that’s been with us for 34 years,” Koehler said. “Another thing that makes Ala Moana’s Oktoberfest so popular is that we get the word out. People know about it and they look forward to it.”

Koehler has noted how many of those attending Oktoberfest have done so for years.

“We have people who were coming since they were kids,” Koehler said. “Now, it’s generations the grandparents, mom and dad and their kids. They expect and know they’ll find the same high quality event here every year.”

For food and spirits, Ala Moana’s Oktoberfest menu will feature a full range of Bavarian dishes, a large selection of German beers and schnapps in every flavor imaginable.

“We offer authentic foods, different beers and schnapps from Germany,” Koehler added. “I went to another Oktoberfest in Hawaii a few years ago and it had more of a Hawaiian flavor to its foods. While we do our event with aloha spirit, we keep it authentic to Germany in what we serve.”

Ryan Day, the Ala Moana Hotel’s executive chef, shares his German heritage with a menu highlighted with bratwurst, German sausages, sauerbraten, giant knackwurst and pig knuckles. Entrees are complemented with a selection of traditional side dishes such as dumplings, potato salad and sauerkraut.

Desserts including apple strudel with vanilla ice cream and Black Forest layer cake top off the night.

An Oktoberfest wouldn’t be complete without a variety of German beers flowing all night long. This year’s selection will include Ayinger Dunkel, Paulaner, Bitburger, Isenbeck, Becks, Spaten, St. Pauli Girl and Lowenbrau.

For non-beer drinkers, Louis Guntrum wine and a selection of German “schnapps bude” will also be served, including Barenjager, Goldwasser, Rumple Minze, Kleiner Feigling and Jagermeister.

Held in the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Ballroom, Oktoberfest will begin with the official keg tapping ceremony on Tues., Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. Festival hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 6-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m.-midnight and Sunday from 5-11 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and $8 on Friday and Saturday. Tickets may be purchased through the Ala Moana Hotel’s concierge beginning Sept. 1 or at the door each night.

For those clients interested in staying where all the action is, the 1,152-room Ala Moana Hotel is located at the gateway to Waikiki, just steps from the Hawaii Convention Center and adjacent to the Ala Moana Shopping Center. The full-service hotel offers five restaurants and lounges, fitness center, pool, business center, shopping arcade and nine meeting and banquet rooms.

Rack rates are from $135 nightly, double occupancy.