September is here and that means it’s time for my favorite festival of the year: Oktoberfest! Americans easily know the holiday—though we often celebrate it fallaciously in October—as a day filled with weird leather shorts and suspenders, German beers, and the chicken dance. But there’s so much more to the real thing than that.

I’ve heard people tell me that there are Oktoberfests all over Germany and that the best ones are in the small towns. This is only nominally true. The only real Oktoberfest is in Munich, and it lasts for about four weeks: the last two weeks of September and the first of October. While there are other beer and village festivals in Bavarian villages throughout the season, they are very rarely called Oktoberfest.

the only real Oktoberfest

I made this mistake taking my parents to Nuremberg a few years back. There was no Oktoberfest, but instead some lame flea market festival called the Old Town Festival (more on that next week, though the festival was lame, the town is awesome). There are exceptions though, as HB Haus, no matter where the branch, will always have an Oktoberfest party, but that’s usually just for a weekend.

More commonly are other cities in other countries using the name to celebrate German beer and wacky dance culture. Here in Prague, they celebrate it on the last weekend of September, and have notably, and in the typically Czech cheeky way, renamed it Septemberfest.

If you’re staying somewhere in Bavaria, like in Prague or Salzburg, it’s not hard to get to Oktoberfest, especially