Preview: Oktoberfest, Leeds

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THE LOW-pitched rumble echoing around the churchyard and disturbing the bucolic peace of pretty little Hampsthwaite, is the unmistakable sound of Joshua Tetley slowly turning in his grave.

For the Leeds brewery which he founded – and which was once the biggest producer of cask ale in the world – has been chosen to be home to a four-day celebration of German lager.

The iconic building retains his name, which still burns red into the night sky, but no beer has been brewed here these last five years, during which time the landmark Hunslet Road premises has been wonderfully re-invented as a bar, restaurant, conference centre, wedding venue and art gallery. And next weekend The Tetley will become a little part of Bavaria as the city’s first Oktoberfest brings steins of crisp golden beer, hearty bratwurst and sauer kraut and the raucous rollicking sound of the oompah band.

So if you have an unnatural urge to dig out the lederhosen or slip into a colourful dirndl skirt and dance the night away with oversized glasses of lager, this will definitely be the place to go.

Oktoberfest Leeds will take place in a spectacular 2,000 capacity German big top tent in the grounds of the historic site, which will be transformed into a traditional Oktoberfest arena – hosting various bars and traditional food stalls, and a stage to accommodate the festival’s in-house band for the weekend!

A few years ago such an event would have been almost unthinkable in Leeds, but an increasingly curious public, eager and open to trying all manner of beers, have made the town hall’s International Beer Festival a firm fixture on the local calendar and have made this the perfect time to bring this Bavarian tradition to the city. And it’s happening in October, unlike the real Oktoberfest, which with typical German speed and efficiency, actually takes place in September.

Organiser Matt Long says: “Although the city already has lots of existing Oktoberfest celebrations we felt Leeds was missing a large scale version of the event to really give people a full, authentic experience. The Tetley site also provides us with a perfect spot to host it, given its long brewery history and with it being in the heart of the city centre. 

“We’re very excited to be celebrating a real taste of traditional German food, drink and music this October and we’re already looking forward to seeing 2,000 people in our big top tent having a great time”

No Oktoberfest would be complete without a range of traditional German beer to quench your thirst. Oktoberfest Leeds will be serving one of Germany’s most popular brands, Erdinger, which has become a firm favourite in Leeds since it was first brought to the city by North Bar, a couple of decades ago. Both this and a specially-brewed haus bier will be served in exclusively-branded Oktoberfest Leeds steins, which will make for a perfect keepsake to take home.

Mind you, that’s provided you don’t bang them together too hard during the oompah session. Having done this myself once at the Bierkeller – and ended up soaked and covered in broken glass – I know how unpleasant that is!

Of course, there are some people for whom beer is just not the thing, and for these a range of German wine as well as soft drinks will also be on offer. Traditional authentic German cuisine will be served up all weekend long, including firm Bavarian favourites such Bratwurst, Brezel, Schnitzel and Hendl and some vegetarian options too.

Tickets start at £10 and advance booking is recommended.

Oktoberfest Leeds

Address: The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds

Type: Traditional German Beer Festival

Opening Hours: October 6-9. 4-11pm Thurs and Fri, noon-4pm and 5-11pm Sat, 1-7pm Sun

Tickets: From £10 a session, advanced booking is recommended

Beers: Erdinger is the main beer, plus other German selections

Wine: Small selection

Food: Traditional German food

Children: Not especially suitable

Disabled: Straightforward access

Entertainment: Oompah band for traditional German music

Parking: Pay and display areas nearby