Oktoberfest 2023: Record visitor numbers, less beer and more cocaine

Oktoberfest 2023: Record visitor numbers, less beer and more cocaine

2023 was a record year for Oktoberfest - there were more people, more alcohol-free beers and more cocaine on the Wiesn than ever before.

Oktoberfest 2023 breaks record with visitor numbers

The festival has drawn to a close and the figures are in: Oktoberfest 2023 saw more visitors to the festival site in Munich than ever before, around 7,2 million. The previous record was held by Oktoberfest’s 1985 incarnation, which was visited by 7,1 million people.

2023 saw the festival, which was cancelled during 2020 and 2021 due to coronavirus, extended by two extra days so that it would end on Tag der Deutschen Einheit. Of the millions that flocked from across the world, it was the Italians who made up the biggest group of foreign visitors.

It was also two, young Italian tourists who were arrested by police over the course of the festival for showing a Nazi salute, which is punishable by law in Germany. The event was not an isolated one during this year’s Volksfest season, with a video surfacing online of an Oktoberfest held in Saxony where guests were shown listening to a song popular with Nazi Party members and showing the Hitlergruß.

Beer consumption drops despite record number of Oktoberfest visitors

Each year, the litres of beer consumed by Oktoberfest revellers are totted up. While an astounding 6,5 million litres were drunk between September 16 and October 3, 2023, visitors were also more inclined to sip on a non-alcoholic alternative.

Beer made up 80 to 90 percent of the drinks sold at the 2023 festival, but 20 percent of these sales were of non-alcoholic beer. The statistic is unsurprising considering the increasing shift towards alcohol-free beer in recent years. 

Figures from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reveal that the production of non-alcoholic beer, which contains less than 0,5 percent alcohol, has nearly doubled in the past decade. That said, according to a 2021 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the country has the fourth highest alcohol consumption per capita in the EU.

And Oktoberfest visitors were not short of other stimulants to keep them going. German police reported 368 instances of drug use at the 2023 festival. Most partygoers were caught with nothing more than weed, but 40 percent of people reprimanded were in possession of cocaine, an 80 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Thumb image credit: FooTToo /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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