Munich’s Oktoberfest opens after two-year hiatus

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Oktoberfest; Munich, Germany
The world-famous beer festival has been officially launched for the first time this decade. (PA Photo)

The beer is flowing at Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest for the first time since 2019.

With three knocks of a hammer and the traditional cry of “O’zapft is” — “It’s tapped” — Mayor Dieter Reiter inserted the tap in the first keg at noon on Saturday, officially opening the festivities after a two-year break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Oktoberfest has typically drawn about six million visitors every year to packed festival grounds in Bavaria’s capital.

The event did not take place in 2020 and 2021 as authorities grappled with the unpredictable development of Covid infections and restrictions.

Those worries were put aside this year as the city announced in late April that Oktoberfest would go ahead, and Mr Reiter said on Saturday that “it was a good decision”.

“I’m glad that we can finally celebrate together,” Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said at the opening ceremony.

“There are many who say: ‘Can we, can we not? Is it appropriate now?’ I just want to say one thing: We have two or three difficult years behind us, no-one knows exactly what this winter will be like, and we need joie de vivre and strength.”

Three hours before Reiter tapped the first keg, revellers rushed to secure seats in the huge beer tents as the gates to the festival opened.

They will need significantly deeper pockets than at the last Oktoberfest, with brewers and visitors facing pressure from inflation.

A two-pint mug of beer costs between €12.60€13.80 this year, which is an increase of about 15 per cent compared with 2019, according to the festival’s official homepage.

This year’s Oktoberfest, the 187th edition of the event, runs until October 3rd.

Mr Soeder told the daily Muenchner Merkur newspaper that the number of coronavirus infections would probably rise following the Oktoberfest, but “at the same time, thankfully, we aren’t measuring an undue strain on hospitals anywhere”.

“That speaks for us being in new phase of corona,” he said, adding that authorities would try to protect vulnerable people, but not prevent celebrations.

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