Aug 17, 2016

Posted by in Oktoberfest | Comments Off on Countdown to the Oktoberfest 2016: Only one month to go

Countdown to the Oktoberfest 2016: Only one month to go

Countdown to the Oktoberfest 2016: Only one month to go

When this post goes live at 12:00, it will really will be one month exactly until the Mayor of Munich taps that first keg of Oktoberfest 2016 beer and proclaims “Ozapft is’!” Then Munich goes mad/gets busy/gulps greedily for two weeks of the Wiesn. And although everyone is always looking forward to it and always interested in what it will be like, thanks to the combination of updates (read our reports) and a tense political situation, the approaching Oktoberfest is a top of interest than ever this year.
The question that everyone is pussyfooting around – and eventually gets to – is whether visitors to the Oktoberfest 2016 will put with increased safety checks and security measures or whether this restrictions on access, coupled with a climate of fear, will lead to less people coming.

As observers of the Oktoberfest of many years’ standing, we do think there will be fewer visitors this year, but don’t think that it’s just due to the security situation this year. How so? Read on.

Oktoberfest 2016: No final security concept…

Some people in Munich are very worried. Following the spate of (not really terrorist) attacks in Germany this summer, one of which was actually in Munich, the city authorities said they would come up with a new security concept for what, as the world’s largest public fair, is a clear terrorist target – and then promptly disappeared on holiday. They were going to announce new measures in early August, and here we are two weeks into the month and a hasitly organised press conference yesterday still left us somewhat in the dark: yes, there will be a fence around the Theresienwiese, but will it be mobile or fully installed? Will it cover the entire perimeter or only certain parts? How high? Made of what? The police and the city authorities are still not in agreement.

And that, we think, is as it should be. The city authorities have avoided the kind of knee-jerk reactions that are so easy to fall into when people are worried. What they seem to have understood is that if there are no more upsets until 17th September, people will be considerably less concerned by then than they are now and they could have turned the Oktoberfest into Fort Knox for nothing – and that if there is a major incident in the next couple of weeks, any plans they’ve made will get torn to shreds and rewritten anyway.

Oktoberfest 2016: …and that’s just fine.


The city is aiming to avoid this kind of severe weekend overcrowding.

That doesn’t mean that Munich’s mayoralty, police, and public transport authorities have been twiddling their thumbs, however. They’ve successfully de-escalated the fraught atmosphere in which all sorts of crazy talk was going round (e.g. banning the trademark glass one-litre-tankards) and quietly started working on ways to make the Oktoberfest less dangerous.

This year, on Saturday 24th September and again on both Saturday and Sunday 1st and 2nd October, there will – for the first time ever – be barriers to entry to the fairground. These three days are likely to be the busiest and if the authorities decide that the spaces between the tents and rides are too busy, only people with reservations for the tents will be let on to the premises. The tightly-packed crowds of yesteryear will therefore be a thing of the past.

Apart from that, expect to see more police officers (and to not see quite a few more in plain clothes…) and for there to be even more security presence and crowd control in the Munich underground metro system.

Oktoberfest 2016: Taking known risks more seriously


It used to be that you needed a wristband to get into certain tents on a Saturday. Now you might need one to get into the Oktoberfest 2016 full stop.

If there is soemthing approaching a defined security concept for the Oktoberfest 2016, then it’s a pretty sensible one: taking existing, known risks on the Wiesn more seriously. After all, yes, there is a slightly increased risk that some Islamist nut will want to have a crack at this, the most godforsaken, beer-drenched and pork-fat-smeared festival of them all – a place filled with drunk infidels celebrating a free society, a fun-loving approach to free time, and – not least – sexual liberty and licentiousness.

Yet the real risk is not whatever home-made bomb some crackpot manages to cobble together, but rather what happens when they try to evacuate 16 tents plus beer gardens with, on average, 8,000 guests each, as well as the whole fairground and the metro – and everyone is a) absolutely terrified and b) blotto. This risk, however, has always been there: a bomb, a madman with a gun, or simply a fire in one of the kitchens could always have caused mass panic. So it’s good to see measures being taken to avoid the kind of people-jams that can always lead to unfortunate incidents.

Oktoberfest 2016: It’s not just about 2016.

So there’ll be fewer people on the Theresienwiese this year because, if it gets too full on the weekends, they’ll stop people adding to the throng. In our estimation, though, we think fewer people are going to come full stop – and not just because of this annus horribilis, 2016. There was a considerable drop last year, after all, from 6.3 million in 2014 down to 5.9 (beer consumption fell from 7.7 million litres to 7.3). Probably, a lot of people had noticed how jam-packed and annoying it all was in 2013 and 2014 and either didn’t come at all or, especially Munich residents, started to avoid weekends. So the wave has already crested, and while 2016 is likely to accelerate this downward trend, it was already there – and was already good for the festival. Our bet, in fact, is that they won’t need to restrict access too much on the weekends. The best tends, however, will always need to.

So on that note: let’s just get our lederhosen and dirndl on and be ready early doors… See you there!

Comments are closed.