Germany’s Oktoberfest Unlikely to Take Place This Year

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MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 21: Revelers cheer with 1-liter-mugs of beer during the opening weekend of the 2019 Oktoberfest on September 21, 2019 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest, which will draw millions of visitors from all over the world, will run from October 21 through October 6. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

The annual Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival, is unlikely to take place this year due to the coronavirus crisis, the premier of the southern German state of Bavaria said on Thursday. Known as the world’s largest beer festival – Oktoberfest attracts more than six million visitors to Munich every year. Visitors from all around the world have fun sitting together on long communal tables to swig beer, eat sausages & lavish foods, and listen to jazz bands.

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder told journalists he was very skeptical whether this year’s festival – scheduled from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 – could take place and said he would make a final decision with Mayor Dieter Reiter in the next two weeks.

The German government and regional state governors agreed on Wednesday to start relaxing some of the lockdown rules introduced last month to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but said big events would stay banned until Aug. 31.

The Oktoberfest

The Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair). Held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it is a 16- to 18-day folk festival running from mid or late September to the first Sunday in October, with more than six million people from around the world attending the event every year. Locally, it is called d’Wiesn, after the colloquial name for the fairgrounds, Theresienwiese. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since the year 1810. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations that are modeled after the original Munich event.

During the event, large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer are consumed: during the 16-day festival in 2013, for example, 7.7 million litres (66,000 US bbl; 1,700,000 imp gal) were served. Visitors also enjoy numerous attractions, such as amusement rides, sidestalls, and games. There is also a wide variety of traditional foods available.

The Munich Oktoberfest originally took place in the 16-day period leading up to the first Sunday in October. In 1994, this longstanding schedule was modified in response to German reunification. As such, if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or the 2nd, then the festival would run until 3 October (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival now runs for 17 days when the first Sunday is 2 October and 18 days when it is 1 October. In 2010, the festival lasted until the first Monday in October (4 October), to mark the event’s bicentennial.