End to Oktoberfest marred by crowd chaos
Oktoberfest shuts off its taps on Monday evening after Munich's beer festival welcomed record numbers of visitors to its 200th anniversary celebration. But along with the crowds came chaos this weekend.
Police in the Bavarian capital told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that during the annual autumn festival’s final weekend they observed an “unprecedented flow of visitors” not only on the Wiesn, but also in the city’s streets.
On Sunday, beer tents, beer gardens in the area, and the special historical area set up in honour of the anniversary had to be closed for several hours due to overcrowding.
Oktoberfest organiser Gabriele Weishäupl told the paper the festival visitors, which police estimated to be as many as 800,000 on Saturday, had “spilled over.”
“There’s no longer a folksy mood,” she said.
On Sunday morning the historic Wiesn area was packed within 45 minutes, and the entrance was closed by noon.
Meanwhile visitors were told via radio to expect long waits, and by 4 pm on Saturday the festival grounds were so full that revellers were requested at nearby tram, bus, and metro stations to abstain from making their way there at all, the paper reported.
But it was mostly locals, and not tourists, who filled beer benches as the festival drew to an end. But many family outings ended at metro and commuter train stations because trains were so full.
The jam-packed atmosphere frayed tempers, according to the reported number of assaults with the festival’s famous one-litre glass beer mugs. In 2009, police logged 38 such assaults, but this year there were more than 60, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.
One man reportedly lost his sight in one eye after being bludgeoned with one of the large mugs by an unknown assailant as he waited to use the bathroom this weekend, the paper said.
But one unfortunate rumour – that the special anniversary beer brewed for the historic Wiesn had run out – is thankfully false.
Organisers told the paper the high-alcohol content brew will likely hold out until festivities end on Monday night.
Some 6.4 million guests from around the world downed 7 million litres (1.6 million gallons) of beer at this year’s festival, Weishäupl told reporters on Monday afternoon.
They also ate 117 oxen, 59 calves and thousands of chickens, she added.
However, the record number of visitors - 7.1 million in 1985 - remains unbeaten, despite the fair being extended by two days for the jubilee.
While this is the 200th anniversary of the beer fest, it is only the 177th edition, as the event was cancelled during two cholera outbreaks and World Wars I and II as well as economic and political crises.
Munich's Oktoberfest runs from September 18 until October 4 this year. A special historical area offering old carousels, special beer and other attractions will open one day earlier for the 200th anniversary celebrations.