Once a year, there’s a corner of Hong Kong that goes a little crazy when the Marco Polo German Bierfest comes to town. Now in its 20-something year, the fest has become a Hong Kong institution, as popular for the authentic German fare and drink as the general jollity that accompanies a very oriental Oktoberfest.
Scheduled this year from Held from Friday, Oct. 17, through Saturday, Nov. 8, this beer fest has long been one of the most popular hotel events in Hong Kong, and it's even become one of the icons of the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel, which sits on the waterfront at the tip of Tsim Sha Tsui, steps away from the dock where international cruise liners moor and the famous Star Ferry lands.
The keystone of the Marco Polo German Bierfest is the band, keeping everyone entertained and adding that essential authentic German ambience.
Marco Polo German Bierfest's much-loved band — Photo courtesy of Marco Polo
Since 1994, The Notenhobler has been the official band at this annual event. The band wears original Oberkrainer clothes and sings traditional tunes and hearty folk music.
The Notenhobler band also performs madcap antics and hosts popular games such as Strong Man, Milking the Cow, Pump-the-Balloon, Chicken Dance and various drinking contests. The band comprises the collective talents of Martin Wies (bass), Thomas Specht (guitar), Uwe Ninow (trumpet), Günther Beugel (clarinet) and Christian Erjavec (accordion).
The bierfest is also an excellent opportunity to try some traditional German dishes: the menu is stuffed with items like roast pork knuckle served with braised red cabbage and gratinated potato; roast lamb leg with garlic, served with braised red cabbage and gratinated potato; pan-fried salmon cutlet served with creamed spinach and boiled new potato; and beef goulash with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots.
Get ready to do the chicken dance! — Photo courtesy of Marco Polo
Other tempting fare includes roast marinated spare rib with cabbage salad and barbecued corn; roast herb-marinated half chicken with carrot and potato salad; and puff pastry with mushroom ragout.
And, of course, you can’t have a true German beer fest without sausages. Partygoers can choose from pan-fried sausages Nürnberger-style with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes or charcoal-grilled sausage with salad or beer-braised onion and curry sauce.
Naturally, you need something to wash down those hearty German dishes. The Marco Polo lays in barrels and barrels of Löwenbräu and Beck’s draught beer, while there is also a limited supply of Löwenbräu Oktoberfestbier and apple schnapps.
Quite the best part of the Marco Polo German Bierfest is its eccentricity, as if the natives of a far-off land decided to celebrate Fourth of July in an all-American fashion!