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California Meets Europe in September

Aug. 23, 2019

From German-style Oktoberfests to Danish fairs, California hosts European-inspired events throughout September. Plan a trip this fall to participate in old-world traditions and experience overseas culture.

Kick off the month at the annual Orange County International Street Fair, located near Plaza Park in the historic downtown district of Orange. Running since 1973, the OCISF is held every Labor Day weekend and includes live music, food from all over the world, children’s activities, arts and crafts booths, and much more. Embrace the 2019 theme, Circle The World, by visiting the Old Towne Plaza and stop by featured international “streets.” A selection of traditional food and drinks from 15 countries including Denmark, England, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland are set up in booths and managed by local non-profit organizations.

Solvang, known as “California’s Denmark” was founded by Danish-Americans in 1911 and mimics a European village–giving visitors an authentic experience with no passport necessary! Today, Solvang offers 18 hotels, 35+ restaurants, 24 wine-tasting rooms, 150+ boutique shops, five Danish bakeries, six museums and myriad recreational activities. Festivals are traditional parts of Solvang’s Scandinavian charm, especially since Danish Days commenced in 1936. This year, from September 20-22, experience free live concerts, three parades (Friday candlelight; Saturday afternoon traditional and Sunday afternoon kids); Viking Beer & Wine Garden serving brews and Danish open-faced sandwiches; artisan marketplace, folk-dancing, Viking encampment, axe throwing, rune reading and more. Aebleskiver—which are fluffy Danish pancake balls—are featured at community breakfasts and free eating contests that round out the weekend where “everyone can be a Dane!”

Go back in time at the beloved Northern California Renaissance Faire held in Hollister, roughly 90 miles southeast of San Francisco. The Renaissance Festival hosts an annual average of 150,000 attendees at the 20-acre Casa de Fruta grounds. From September 14-October 20, enjoy hearty ales, live music on nine stages, fine foods and over 150 handmade craft booths. It’s fun for the whole family, too–storytelling, face-painting and rides are offered, and everyone is encouraged to don a costume. Archery and a legendary full-contact joust bring the action, while 600 actors roam the streets and amuse audiences. With themed celebrations at every turn, the Northern California Renaissance Faire surprises and delights visitors year after year.

Oktoberfest celebrations pop up in many California destinations come September, providing visitors with plenty of Bavarian utopias to choose from.

  • Stroll along romantic cobblestone streets, lit by imported lanterns and adorned with vibrant murals at Old World Village in Huntington Beach. For 40 years, Old World Village and is home to one of Orange County’s largest Oktoberfests, offering authentic German food, imported German beers, German bands straight from Germany, competitions, games and more.
  • Lace up the dirndl dress and don the lederhosen at Walnut Creek’s fifth annual Oktoberfest at Civic Park. This day-long, family-friendly festival includes a biergarten, kinderplatz, live music stages, gourmet food booths and a Lederhosen contest.
  • Back for its 49th annual appearance, Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest is set with traditional German music, dances, cuisine, and the ever-popular log saw, stein carrying, and hoot and yodel contests. Big Bear Lake’s dense forests of evergreen pines and firs create a canvas for brilliant fall color and a dazzling backdrop for the Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest.
  • At Pier 35 in San Francisco, celebrate Munich's famed festival at Oktoberfest by the Bay. In true tradition and spirit, enjoy nonstop music, singing, dancing and the very best in German food and drink. Headlining the stage will be the world renowned, 21-piece Chico Bavarian Band.

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