WATERLOO -- The 2020 Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is changing how they celebrate amidst the pandemic.

In a Monday morning news release, organizers announced the 52-year-old Bavarian festival will be running over three weekends, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 12, two weeks earlier than usual.

"We're trying to take advantage of outdoor opportunities," said festival president Tim Beckett. "With patios open we can physically distance, it's safe outside, we've got a lot of patios in the uptown [Waterloo] and downtown [Kitchener], so we thought we'd move the festival ahead a couple of weeks working with our partners here too."

Opening ceremonies will be live streamed from the Region of Waterloo airport on Sept. 25 starting at noon.

‘Micro-FESThallens’ will take place at restaurants in the area and feature Oktoberfest entertainment, food, and beer pairings.

Organizers say this program has been designed to support local businesses that have been hit hard by COVID-19.

“We are pushing ahead with them in mind, knowing we can work together to keep people safe and support the recovery of our local economy and tourism industry,” said Alfred Lowrick, the executive director of K-W Oktoberfest,in the release.

Live streams of Oktoberfest-themed entertainment will be going ahead on Oct. 9-10. The Onkel Hans Food Drive will also be running this year as well.

“Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest was determined to move forward to find a safe way to continue the tradition,” said Beckett in the release. “This format allows people to decide how to join the festivities safely - either in a restaurant or gathered at home - with those close to you.

“It’s like the Superbowl, but with really good polka music.”

'Oktoberfest in a Box' packages are also for sale, which include items like authetic beer steins and festive masks.

The Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball, a Blooming Affair Fashion Show, the KWO 5K Fun Run, and the Women of the Year Awards have all been postponed to 2021.

“We have been consulting frequently with Region of Waterloo Public Health officials. Our main priority is to ensure the health and safety of our community and our volunteers,” said Lowrick. “We also feel a sense of responsibility to the local businesses involved in creating the festival experience, and the not-for-profit groups who benefit from fundraising programs.”

The Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Parade has also been postponed for 2020. Organizers say the annual event attracts over 150.000.

A one-hour parade special, looking back at how the event has evolved over the past 50 years, will instead run on CTV at noon on Oct. 12.