BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — While it’s a bit smaller than Oktoberfest, this Southern California German festival packs a big punch. The good news is, it’s less than a three-hour drive from San Diego.

A springtime celebration is coming to Big Bear Lake in May with vibrant flare and tradition that bids farewell to Old-Man Winter and says “hello” to warmer days ahead.

The Sixth Annual Big Bear Lake Maifest will be serving up a hearty of dose traditional German music paired with German-Style maibock beers and sizzling bratwursts hot off the grill, according to event organizers.

Where does Maifest originate? History shows the German festival dates back to the 18th century, when villagers and townsfolk celebrated the end of winter and arrival of spring. 

“We’ve had quite a long winter and now it’s time to celebrate the beauty of Big Bear’s fresh spring season,” said Big Bear Lake Maifest Director Monica Marini. “The lake level is up, our spirits are up and Maifest is the cherry on top that brings a lively feel-good vibe to our mountain community.”  

Festivalgoers are encouraged to dress in a lederhosen or dirndl, traditional German attire, to heighten the spirit of the event. For those who dress to impress, you can expect to receive a free gift from Warsteiner, one of Germany’s leading pilsner beer brands. Let’s cheer to that!

Irish food and drink
A look at food and drink that can be enjoyed at Maifest. (Photo Credit:

Some of Southern California’s top German-style bands will be performing at this year’s Maifest. This includes jam sessions from duo Da Stube Buben and lederhosen-wearing musical group Die Sauerkrauts. From traditional Bavarian party music to a mix of pop, rock and funk — Maifest will have it all.

“Our main objective is to provide a lively atmosphere with fun, upbeat music, and the bands scheduled to play are ready to deliver,” added Marini. 

Maifest at Big Bear Lake is set kickoff on off Saturday, May 20, followed by two other dates: one on Saturday, May 27 and another on Sunday, May 28 which is Memorial Day weekend.

General admission to the festival costs $14 for adults, $11 for seniors age 62 and up, and $7 for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Preferred seating is also available for $27, which includes reserved seating and table service for food and drinks. All tickets can can be purchased here.

San Diegans don’t have to wait until Oktoberfest to bite into warm apple strudels and watch log-sawing competitions — this springtime German festival will be celebrated in the mountains in less than a month!