Munich considering holding Oktoberfest in the summer
Fancy a beer in the sun? The city of Munich is considering moving its famous Oktoberfest to the summer, in an effort to prevent it from being cancelled again due to the coronavirus pandemic. Politicians and festival bosses are divided over the plans.
Oktoberfest in the summer?
The city of Munich is preparing for the possibility of holding Oktoberfest in the summer, in an attempt to save it from being cancelled again due to the coronavirus pandemic. Clemens Baumgärtner, an economic advisor and the head of Oktoberfest in Munich, has said a working group composed of city council representatives will convene to discuss the feasibility of holding the festival in the summer months. He will then make a recommendation as to whether the festival can be rescheduled.
However, Baumgärtner has already voiced his reservations over moving Oktoberfest to the summer. “For me personally, an Oktoberfest in July is hardly conceivable,” he said. “And in August the summer holidays are in Bavaria.” This would mean that everyone involved in the festival: brewers, hoteliers, artists and the police would all have to make rearrangements to their summer schedules.
Peter Inselkammer, the spokesperson for Oktoberfest innkeepers, has echoed this sentiment and said that he would prefer Oktoberfest to run as normal, but with strict vaccination rules in place. "Already by tradition, it's called Oktoberfest," he said. He did concede that rescheduling due to the pandemic made sense, but called for a decision to be made sooner rather than later. "It's enough if the decision is made in May," he said. But a decision six weeks in advance is not enough.
Police need a vacation, many argue
The German Police Union (DPoIG) in Bavaria argued that police need to take time off after having to work overtime last year. The state chairman of the DPoIG, Jürgen Köhnlein, said that despite there being no other big events planned for the summer, “it would also be the only time when around 30.000 police officers in the Free State could best spend their remaining vacation from 2021, tons of overtime from this year's operations and their annual holiday leave for 2022 at the same time."
On the other hand, Bavaria’s Minister for Economic Affairs has thrown his support behind a summer Oktoberfest. He argued that the coronavirus situation is likely to be a lot more relaxed in the summer. “It is therefore important to seriously consider moving parties with larger gatherings to the summer," he said.
State premier and Munich Mayor to make decision
The decision to reschedule Oktoberfest ultimately lies with Bavaria’s State Premier, Markus Söder, and Munich’s Mayor, Dieter Reiter. The state’s Infection Protection Ordinance will determine whether the Volkfest is allowed to take place; the two previous Oktoberfests were cancelled five months ahead of the event.
Oktoberfest brings a huge amount of money to the state, with the 2019 iteration bringing in a good 1,2 billion euros in sales. Half a billion was spent on overnight stays and another half-billion was spent in the marquees and on the attractions.