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Munich Oktoberfest to get first-ever entrance checks

Revellers hoping to join in the carousing at Munich Oktoberfest will have to pass through a security check before entering the festival grounds this year, Munich authorities have said.

Munich Oktoberfest to get first-ever entrance checks
Bavarian police at the entrance to the Oktoberfest grounds. File photo: DPA

People hoping to enter the Theresienwiese – the large open space where Oktoberfest is held each year – will have to pass through security checks, including bag checks, at all the entrances, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Thursday.

And as well as bringing in more security guards this year, city managers say that they won't hesitate to block off the entire festival grounds with fences if things get too crowded.

Last but not least, the huge beer-hall tents run by Munich breweries that attract thousands of drinkers will open an hour later than usual at 10am.

'Changed global context'

Oktoberfest – which Bavarians hail as the world's largest folk festival (Volksfest) celebrated since 1810 – is being organized this year in the shadow of troubling events.

Munich authorities believe they must boost security after the sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year's Eve, as well as the danger of terrorist attacks like those which hit Paris and Brussels in November and March.

The Bavarian capital's main train station was itself on lockdown on New Year's Eve after police said they had received credible intelligence of a terrorist bomb threat.

Oktoberfest also became the target of a bombing by a far-right terrorist in 1980 which killed 13 people including the bomber.

But in recent years the city has also had to deal with ever-increasing numbers of visitors from across Germany, Europe and the globe to its world-famous two-week-long revels.

Overcrowding and drunken misbehaviour and crime have also long been a cause of annoyance to Müncheners faced with the annual influx of booze-happy guests.

“No-one should be afraid to go to the Wiesn [Theresienwiese],” deputy Munich mayor Josef Schmid told the SZ earlier in April.

“There is no concrete danger. But of course we're adjusting ourselves to the changed global context.”

SEE ALSO: 7 Oktoberfest stats that might just blow your Maß

OKTOBERFEST

IN PICTURES: First weekend of Munich’s Oktoberfest sees around 700,000 visitors

Around 700,000 people braved the wet and cold weather to attend the first weekend of the Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, according to estimates by festival management.

IN PICTURES: First weekend of Munich's Oktoberfest sees around 700,000 visitors

That is significantly less than the around one million visitors seen in 2019, the last time the festival took place as the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

“We want the weather gods to remember what decent Wies’n [Oktoberfest] weather looks like,” festival head and CSU politician Clemens Baumgärtner said, German news agency DPA reported.

Man and woman in lederhosen at Oktoberfest

A man and a woman in traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses arrive for the opening of the Oktoberfest beer festival at the Theresienwiese in Munich on September 17, 2022.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

The festival opened on Saturday and the first guests were already queuing outside the entrances before sunrise to secure their spot at the front of a beer tent when the site was opened. The first tents closed their doors around noon.

Oktoberfest costume parade

Participants of the traditional costume parade of the Oktoberfest beer festival arrive on September 18, 2022.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

But the Schottenhamel tent (the oldest at the Oktoberfest) spokesperson, Christian Schottenhamel, said the numbers of people visiting the tents this year were similar to that seen in 2019, DPA said.

Oktoberfest costume parade

Participants dressed as fools perform during the festival’s traditional costume parade on September 18, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

He reported that the atmosphere was euphoric, with people just happy to be celebrating Oktoberfest again.

Oktoberfest beer tent visitors

The first visitors arrive and reserve places in a beer tent during the opening of the festival on September 17, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

The festival has attracted a mixed audience so far, including families with children and visitors from abroad, such as from the United States and France.

But the spokesperson for the smaller tents, Otto Lindinger, said the audience was getting younger, noting strong demand for meat-free dishes, although the Oktoberfest chicken was said to still be a hit.

Visitors celebrate at Oktoberfest

Visitors jostle for a Maß in a beer tent at the Oktoberfest on September 17, 2022. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

Over on the south side of the festival area, head of the museum tent Yvonne Heckl described the atmosphere in the traditional ‘Oide Wies’n’, or old Oktoberfest, area as “chilled and calm”.

The festival lasts until October 3rd, as German Unity Day falls on the Monday after the last Oktoberfest Sunday.

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