Oktoberfest 2021 unlikely to go ahead, says Munich mayor

Oktoberfest 2021 unlikely to go ahead, says Munich mayor

Last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich was called off for the first time since 1948. It is now looking increasingly likely that this year’s festival will also not take place. 

Oktoberfest cancellation looking more and more likely

At the beginning of this month, an Oktoberfest spokesperson estimated the chances of the festival taking place to be “fifty fifty”, but now the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, has said that the cancellation of Oktoberfest 2021 is becoming more and more likely. The SPD politician told Bild that last year he firmly assumed that Oktoberfest would return in 2021, but now “hope grows weaker from week to week, to be honest.” 

“As of today, it could not take place under the applicable regulations,” the mayor said, adding that the pandemic is not currently subsiding. “And that’s why it’s currently hard to imagine the world’s largest folk festival taking place.” 

Reservation requests for beer tents already piling up

The approval or cancellation of the festival is likely to be hotly debated in the coming weeks, especially since the general election is only a week after the festival’s planned start on September 18. 

According to the Oktoberfest hosts, who are responsible for the individual beer tents, reservations requests are already piling up. “People want to come,” Oktoberfest host spokesperson Peter Inselkammer said. Most of the regular guests have already secured their places. “Only a very few have cancelled.” 

Decision expected by May or early June at the latest

The state premier of Bavaria, Markus Sӧder, has expressed scepticism about the possibility of the folk festival taking place this year, but indicated that he wanted to hold off on a final assessment. Reiter told Bild he wanted to discuss the festival’s future with Sӧder in May, and that the decision would likely apply to all of Bavaria’s major folk festivals. “The probability is high that such festivals cannot be justified.” 

The hosts say they need a decision by the beginning of June at the latest, since this is when they would have to start hiring construction companies. They have already rejected the idea of a stripped back, “Wiesn-light” version of the festival. “A stripped-down version is not an Oktoberfest,” Inselkammer said. “With masks and limited space in the tent: That is economically pointless - and it is also not an Oktoberfest as we love and want it. That’s not fun.” 

The cost of cancelling the world’s largest festival of beer - which is attended by more than 6 million people each year - is high. Inselkammer estimates that it costs 400.000 euros per year just to keep the festival ticking over, if it doesn’t take place. The economic value of the festival is between 1,2 and 1,3 billion euros per year. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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