10 Oktoberfest Games Everyone Will Love

Oktoberfest isn’t just beers and brats. It’s a celebration of Bavarian culture, and while the beer and brats are still an amazingly fun part of it, there’s a lot of other ways to get in on the fun! We’ve put together a list of 10 Oktoberfest games that anyone in the family is sure to love!

Additional Tips for Hosting Oktoberfest

Before we dive into the fun and games, I wanted to add a few extra tips to bring your Oktoberfest celebration to life:

  • Fashion – Don’t forget your lederhosen and dirndls! Check out our tips for Oktoberfest Fashions.
  • Beer – The most important part of the party. We did the hard homework of tasting German beers for you and put together our list of the Best German Beers for an Oktoberfest Celebration.
  • Steins – No Oktoberfest is complete without beer steins, which hold a whopping 1 liter of beer. If you want to get a real experience, pick up some inexpensive steins at Walmart or Amazon.
  • Decorations – The traditional blue checkered tablecloth is a staple at any Oktoberfest. Check out Amazon for some inexpensive decor packages.
  • Music – Check out Spotify for some traditional Oktoberfest Music.

Horse Racing

Get back the roots of Oktoberfest with the first Oktoberfest games ever held: horse racing. At the first Oktoberfest on October 12, 1810 (for the wedding of King Ludwig I to Princess Therese), citizens celebrated by racing horses. The tradition lasted annually until 1960 when it was replaced by an agricultural show.

How to Play: Attend local race tracks, bet online, attend an agricultural show, or check out local farms where you can ride or feed horses.

Horse Racing at Oktoberfest, Munich – 1823
Photo Cred: Wikipedia

Fingerhakeln – Never Miss Hand Day!

Not all Oktoberfest feats of strength revolve around beer. Welcome to Fingerhakeln, aka finger pulling. This is no thumb war. Two people face off, trying to pull their opponent over a line on the table. Any finger can be used but most use their middle. This sport is taken VERY seriously and competitors train hard. Some do one fingered pull-ups or crush tennis balls with their hands. Injuries and finger dislocations are common, so this is not a sport to be taken lightly, and probably not encouraged for at home participation, but it’s interesting nonetheless! There are even weight classes: light, middle, semi-heavy and heavyweight.

How to Play: Two opponents sit opposite at a table and try to pull the other towards them over the table, using the physical force of any one finger (except the thumb). They hook their chosen fingers into a leather strap and try to pull their opponent across. Each player has a catcher (Auffänger) behind them to catch them if they fall, as well as a chairman and two referees.

Masskrugstemmen – Steins Up!

Masskrugstemmen (MAHSS-kroog-stem-men) aka, beer steinholding, is a traditional Bavarian game of strength. Competitors hold full, 1 liter beer steins straight out in front of their bodies with a straight arm, parallel to the ground. Sound easy? It’s not. The goal is to be the last person standing in perfect formation, and these beers get HEAVY. The stein alone weighs about 3 pounds, and when you add a full liter of beer, you’re looking at close to 5 pounds.

How to Play: Fill a 1 liter beer stein with 34 ounces of beer and hold it directly in front of you by the handle with a straight arm. The arm must be parallel to the ground with no bending at the elbow. If any beer or liquid spills or drips out of or off the stein, the competitor is immediately disqualified. For more official rules, check out the US Steinholding page.

Photo Cred: USA Today

Masskrug Carry Race

Now that you’ve learned the art of holding one stein in the Masskrugstemmen, how about holding as many as you can, while running across the room? The masskrug carry race is just that, who can hold the most full, liter beers, without spilling a drop.

How to Play: Fill liters of beer to the full 34 ounces. The player picks up as many as they can. A helper then stacks additional full steins on top. The player then has to carry all the steins 45 yards and then place them down again on the table at the finish line, all without any beer. The record if you’re curious is held by Oliver Strümpfel who carried 31 full beer steins.


Ready for another dangerously fun Oktoberfest game? Then get ready for Hammer-Schlagen, the game that involves sharp nails, tree stumps, and hammers. The goal of the game is to hammer a nail into the stump. Originally called Nagelspiel, it was created by Carl Schoene who moved to Minnesota from Germany in 1957. Today, it’s widely played, and you can even purchase your own Hammer-Schlagen kit for home.

How to Play:

Players start the game with one nail, and take turns swinging at the nail, trying to get it flush into the wood. Men must use one hand on the Hamer while women can use two. To win, the nail must be hammered flush into the wood or below the surface of the wood. For more details, check out the Hammer-Shlagen official rules.

Mr. & Ms. Oktoberfest

Who wore it best? You put in the work of creating your finest Oktoberfest fashions, now it’s time to show them off! And what’s a festival without a little friendly competition? Compete with your friends for the coveted title of Mr. or Ms. Oktoberfest!

How to Play: Have members of your party secretly vote for who the best dressed man and woman (and kid if your event is family friendly) is at the event. When the votes are tallied, present them with a sash or award of honor.

Photo Cred: Oktoberfestus.com

Yodeling Competition

No, not the snack. Yodeling is commonly associated with Oktoberfest games. The origins stem from animal herders calling for their flocks across Alpine villages, and became a staple in Bavarian culture. Yodeling is done by creating quick alterations in vocal tones, from low pitched to high falsetto. If you can find a place with an echo, you’ll most likely be letting out a yodel.

How to Play: The instructions for this one are pretty loose. Basically, get your significant other or some friends, and try to yodel. At the very least you’ll get some laughs, and possibly a headache. If you’re really curious to learn the basics, here’s a video to check out.

Wiesn Herz Decorating Contest

Wiesn Herz is the traditional heart shaped gingerbread cookie seen at Oktoberfest and other German celebrations. Typical decorations include covering the heart in chocolate icing on both sides with bright colored frosting piped around the edges. Many hearts include Oktoberfest fun phrases or words of inspiration.

How to Play: Have a cookie decorating contest! Bake and decorate your Wiesn Herz cookies and see who comes up with the best Oktoberfest creations. You can find the recipe and tips for making them at the official Oktoberfest site.

Photo Cred: Oktoberfest.de

Chicken Dance

If you’ve never heard of or danced the chicken dance, my first question is, how is that possible? It’s a fantastic silly dance that you’re bound to hear at any Oktoberfest celebration. Why do we do it? It has no German – or chicken, origins at all. It was created in the 1950s by Werner Thomas from Switzerland and titled the Duck Dance, but in the 1980s a German band at Oktoberfest in Tulsa, OK was performing The Duck Dance on TV. When they couldn’t find a duck costume, they instead found, you guessed it, a chicken suit, and the tradition of The Chicken Dance has been part of the Oktoberfest celebrations ever since.

How to Play: It’s one of the simplest dances you’ll ever do, but here’s a chicken dance tutorial to get you started. Once you master the few simple moves, throw on the Chicken Dance polka song and start flapping!

Photo Cred: Fredericksburg, TX Oktoberfest


Finally, need a little break from all the beer drinking Oktoberfest games? Then it’s time to sit down and test your knowledge of all things Bavarian with a little trivia. Everyone loves fun facts, and it’s a great way to take a break from all the on the go fun.

How to Play:

Oktoberfest Trivia: Here are some fun Oktoberfest trivia Q & A

Germany Trivia: Here are 243 Trivia Questions about Germany

Beer Trivia: Here is a collection of Beer Trivia Q & A

Photo Cred: Finedininglovers.com

We hope you enjoyed learning about some of these games. Let us know if you try any at home, or if you’ve played other Oktoberfest games we should try! Prost!

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