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Canada Water: London Oktoberfest pitches up in Dock X on the Rotherhithe Peninsula

Event promises to blend German traditions with British atmosphere in an all-weather venue

In previous years London Oktoberfest has been held in tents

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Event venue Dock X is set to reverberate with the sounds of a party that started more than 200 years ago. The Canada Water warehouse space will host London Oktoberfest for three weekends this autumn. 

The tradition has its origins in a wedding party held in 1810 for the crown prince of Bavaria (who later became King Ludwig I), which lasted five days culminating in a horse race. Having got a taste for celebration, the following year an agricultural fair was tagged on with food and drink stalls for visitors.

By the 20th century these had become vast beer halls with each local brewery hosting up to 6,000 people a day over the last two weeks in September.  

Its something former banker Carsten Raun knows all about. It’s a tradition he’s successfully been bringing to London since 2011.

“It’s the 10th anniversary since we first brought the authentic Oktoberfest to London, which is a celebration in itself,” he said. 

“First of all, we’ll have the original beer and sausage from Germany, just as we always have, despite Brexit. The mood in the hall is always fantastic with live oompah music.

“The Brits and Germans share a love of beer, it’s a common theme between the two countries – we brought it to London and found people really love it. The German traditions and the British attitude fit together perfectly.

“This time we have some different ideas too. Dock X is a new venue for us and it means the weather won’t affect the event.

“In many ways it’s like the tents in Munich which are really permanent structures laid out like beer halls.

“There is no Oktoberfest there this year because they’ve decided it’s not the right time to hold an event that sees six million people come from all around the world. 

“We can do this in London because it is a local event with a capacity of 1,500 people and we’ll be following all of the government rules with hand sanitising available throughout the venue.”

Dancing and singing are encouraged at London Oktoberfest

For those quick off the mark, tickets are still available for the October 1-2 sessions at the Canada Water venue before the event returns to Rotherhithe from November 4-6 and 11-13.

For those prepared to travel to west London, there will be a chance to sup from a stein under canvas when London Oktoberfest pitches its traditional tent for Halloween from October 28-31. 

Those visiting the pop-up in Ealing’s Walpole Park are invited to dress up for a spooky session, with families also welcome on the Sunday.

Carsten said: “In addition to Halloween, we will also be hosting Pink Oktoberfest when we’re back in Canada Water on November 5.

“This started some years ago and now we’re hosting it for the LGBTQIA+ community to show there is some Oktoberfest for everybody – it will be very welcoming.

“While it is a new world since Brexit and the pandemic and it hasn’t been so easy to organise, we have found a way to bring the beer, the food and all our stuff to London.

“It’s something we want to keep doing. For all of our events, I hope people come and experience the same great atmosphere that we always had before Covid. It’s time to raise those steins again.

“It’s so exciting to be coming back to London again and it will be a really wonderful feeling to see people enjoying themselves. 

“We hope that the events we are hosting will act as a second freedom day so that people can have a chance to celebrate.”  

Prices for Oktoberfest start at £5 for general entry, with a multitude of options available including VIP and corporate packages. Dock X is located within easy walking distance of Canada Water station.

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Bermondsey: How craft beer brand Hiver is set to pay homage to Oktoberfest

Stanworth Street taproom will celebrate Hiverfest over three Fridays with live music and sausages

Hiver founder and managing director Hannah Rhodes
Hiver founder and managing director Hannah Rhodes – image Matt Grayson

There’s historical precedent for Hiverfest. Bermondsey-based honey beer brand Hiver is set to host its very own homage to Oktoberfest over three Fridays – September 17, 24 and October 1 – at its taproom. 

“We’re very, very excited about it,” said the brand’s founder and managing director Hannah Rhodes. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now – there’s a lovely tie-in because honey beer was one of the original festival beers.

“Hops were only introduced to brewing in the 1400s in the UK so honey was a key ingredient before that. It helped the beer last a bit longer and gave greater depth of flavour.

“Also, because it’s a natural sugar, it gets fermented into alcohol, making honey beers a bit more spicy than other brews that would have been around at the time.

“That makes it ideal for a party or a festival. This summer has been all about getting back into a normal groove and we didn’t want to miss that opportunity to have some fun and party.”

Those going to Hiverfest will be able to sample plenty of beer
Those going to Hiverfest will be able to sample plenty of beer – image Matt Grayson

The events, which run from 6pm-11pm will see around 120 people join Hannah and her team under the arches in the taproom at Stanworth Street on each of the nights for food, beer and live music. 

Tickets cost £30 per person and include a pint of Hiver and a portion of food. Ceramic steins will also be available to purchase for £25, which includes another pint of Hiver and a £1 discount on pints at the venue, whenever the owner pops in for a beer on an ongoing basis.

“Hiverfest is going to be lots of beer swilling, feet stomping,” said Hannah. “We did a test run a few weeks ago in the guise of a staff party and it was very successful.

“Of course we’ll have our range of amazing, award-winning beers including our lager Fabal and our honey beer range from Hiver.

“We also have a fab street food partner called SmoKings – they’re normally based at Finsbury Square in Moorgate and they do everything from grilled meats to vegan and vegetarian alternatives.

“They will be making some festival sausages for us with both meat and vegan options and meat and vegetarian platters too. That may well be the start of a longer partnership between the two businesses as well.

“The live band are a brass trio called Hot City Horns and we’re really lucky to have them. 

“It’s actually through someone I was at school with years and years ago – Paul Burton. They’ve been really successful, working with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Jess Glynne, Emeli Sande and Olly Murs and they’ll be bringing a singer along with them for the three evenings.

“We’ll have everything from a bit of acoustic stuff to get people going, to standing on tables, wandering around and getting people engaged. While everyone will have a table and a seat, we don’t think it’ll be long before people are up on their feet.”

Hannah pours a Phoebee stein of beer
Hannah pours a Phoebee stein of beer – image Matt Grayson

Ticket holders can also expect some surprise goodies, a prize for the best Oktoberfest-themed fancy dress and the opportunity to purchase an extensive range of merchandise, much of it featuring brand logo Phoebee.

“We now have gorgeous new branding – a bit more playful with a few more bee puns that people seem to love,” said Hannah. “We’re bright and fresh.

“As a business beyond the taproom, we have some new products in the wings, which we hope will be coming out in the spring. 

For the moment we’re quite focused on festive Christmas gift packs, making sure we’ll be offering something a bit different.

“The last year has been very much about driving online sales – we’re now available in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, which is great.

“It’s been about learning how we can get more savvy with online and driving digital sales.”

Hiverfest, however promises to be an offline experience, taking the best bits of similar events in Germany and giving them a Bermondsey twist.

“The arch is something tangible and there’s something really nice about seeing it come to life at the weekend,” said Hannah.

“I’m a big fan of Oktoberfest in Germany and can’t wait to go back. It’s that lovely reminder of the role of beer, where people have fun and socialise.

“We’ll have our own version of the Prosit song and, hopefully, everyone will sing.”

Those attending Hiverfest can choose between a pint of Hiver on arrival or Hannah’s relatively new release – Fabal – a dry crisp lager made with pressed barley and already the house pour at The Dorchester.

“While Hiver means beekeeper, Fabal means the human artisan or craftsperson, like the maltsters who supply us for the brand,” she said.

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