Munich ‘to spend extra €2.2m’ on Oktoberfest security

After terror attacks in Paris, Brussels and most recently Istanbul, Munich could spend nearly €3 million more on security and other measures - but terrorism isn't the only concern: the biggest fear is overcrowding.

Munich 'to spend extra €2.2m' on Oktoberfest security
Oktoberfest in Munich, 2014. Photo: DPA.

Three months before the start of the world’s most famous celebration of beer, Munich is finalizing plans on how to make sure revellers stay safe this year.

Around 100 more security personnel will be employed, a loudspeaker system in multiple languages will be used for emergencies, random bag checks will be performed at each entrance and officials are also mulling the use of movable fences to block off certain areas when need be.

Organizers said earlier this year that security checks at the entrances would be implemented for the first time.

Hiring more security guards alone will cost €2.2 million more than last year, bringing total extra costs to €2.8 million.

Each year the two-week long beer festival attracts more than six million visitors, and the prospect of a terror attack is not a new one this year, especially given that the beloved folk fest was already the site of an attack in 1980.

That year, a right-wing extremist planted a bomb that killed 12 people and himself as well as injuring more than 200.

“Terror is something that is always on the radar for us,” said police spokesman Marcus da Gloria Martins, explaining how the some 500 officers deployed for Wiesn (Oktoberfest) will be trained to respond to threats “in real-time”.

“The possible scenarios are so complex that it’s not so easy to say whether it’ll be X or Y,” he added.

But another major concern is that of overcrowding.

“For me the general problem of crowding at Wiesn is more worrisome that a terrorist attack,” the police spokesman said.
This year officials expect the numbers of people in attendance to be high, even given recent terror attacks, especially since the number of Germans attending on the weekends has grown in particular in recent years.

Each day sees roughly half a million people on the 30 hectares of land, and often the limited space is so tight that it can be hard for emergency services to reach people quickly through the crowds.

Last year on October 3rd, things got so chaotic that officials tried closing off some entrances, but struggled to control the crowds.

One proposal this year is to have loudspeakers with announcements in multiple languages to warn people about overcrowding. Organizers also want to use moveable barriers as a last resort.

But this idea raises its own concerns: Many still reflect on the tragedy of the 2010 Love Parade disaster in Duisburg, western Germany, when a lack of sufficient entrances and exits ultimately led to the crushing deaths of 21 people.

Others say that with temporary barricades they could block entrances to areas and would have helpers nearby to open the gates in an emergency.

Munich also launched an online Wiesn-Barometer so that visitors can check which times are the most crowded and plan to go when the fest is less busy.

The city will on Tuesday finalize security plans for Oktoberfest, which is set to run from September 17th to October 3rd.


Is Germany’s Oktoberfest heading to Dubai this year?

Last year Germany's famous Oktoberfest was cancelled. And this year? We're still not sure if it will happen yet in Munich due to Covid - but it looks like it could be heading to the desert...

Is Germany's Oktoberfest heading to Dubai this year?
Guests enjoying a scaled-back Oktoberfest celebration in 2020 in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Hörhager

Oktoberfest is to take place in Dubai, the largest city in the UAE, according to German media reports on Thursday.

The plan is to move the world’s largest folk festival to an area of ​​around 420,000 square meters near the Dubai Marina, Berlin Christmas market boss Charles Blume, who is one of the organisers, told Spiegel.

Blume said Dubai officials had given the festival the green light.

German daily Bild reported that Dubai’s Oktoberfest would start on October 7th at 12noon in 32 tents – and then last for six months until March 31st 2022 – that’s far longer than the original Munich event which lasts around 16 days. 

READ ALSO: Oktoberfest ‘very unlikely’ to take place in Munich in 2021

Celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pamela Anderson and Lothar Matthäus are to be flown in as guests, Bild said, although this hasn’t been confirmed.

The estimated cost for the event is reportedly around €50 million. As well as Blume, the Munich ex-restaurateur Dirk Ippen and host Sepp Krätz played a key role in developing the plan, said Bild.

Even if the location is unusual compared to Munich’s Wiesn, the event would be strongly based on the original.

Beer tents, restaurants, as well as carousels and sales stands that resemble the traditional festival are all planned. Brewers and innkeepers would also be flown in from Bavaria.

The organiser, however, emphasises that the event in Dubai wouldn’t be “just another Oktoberfest double”, but bigger and more international than Munich’s.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Oktoberfest 2020 cancelled over coronavirus pandemic

The aim is to achieve this with numerous types of beer, the longest beer bar as well as 620 entertainers and businesses.

The alcohol ban in the UAE would not apply to the Oktoberfest or the event area. Spiegel reported that people who’ve been drinking would be transported to their hotels in shuttle buses to respect the culture and rules.

Organisers are reportedly putting together a detailed hygiene and safety plan to ensure the safety of guests and workers in the pandemic.

Will Oktoberfest be cancelled in Munich in 2021?

As The Local reported, it is still unclear if Oktoberfest will go ahead in Munich this year due to the pandemic. Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter said the cancellation is looking increasingly likely due to the current infection situation and restrictions.

However, if it does happen it is planned that it will kick off on September 18th and will last until October 3rd.

In 2020 a scaled back celebration took place in some bars and restaurants in Munich to mark Oktoberfest but it was nowhere near as huge as the original which is world-renowned and rakes in billions of euros.

READ ALSO: Oktoberfest in numbers: A look inside Germany’s multi-billion business