This Year’s Oktoberfest Has Officially Been Canceled

Oktoberfest has been canceled. The world’s largest folk and beer festival was set to take place between September 19th and October 4th this fall. Now it’s officially… not.

Bavaria’s Minister-President Markus Söder and Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter put it simply in a statement on the official Oktoberfest webpage: “The risk for the people is too high to let the Wiesn [Oktoberfest] 2020 take place.” Söder told the press, “we are living in different times. And living with Corona means living carefully.” This comes on the heels of Germany completely banning all large gatherings until at least August 31st.

This is a big blow for beer lovers who flock to Munich every year to revel in beer, food, parades, and parties. Oktoberfest draws well over six million people every year and they drink over two million gallons of beer. For comparison sake, Coachella — which has been postponed until October, ironically — only draws 125,000 people. The beer drinkers also eat “124 oxen, 48 calves, 59,000 pork knuckles, 60,000 pork sausages, and 510,000 grilled chickens,” according to the festival’s main reservation system.

The move is likely to prove devastating for the local economy. Oktoberfest employs 8,000 full-time plus 5,000 part-time workers. Waitresses working the beer tents can make up to €10,000 ($10,800) per Oktoberfest. That’s before you take into account the ancillary financial gains for Munich’s hotels, taxis, restaurants, bars, beer gardens, brothels, farmers, museums, public transport, and, of course, local breweries that will be lost. All told, the massive festival injects $1.3 billion into Munich’s economy every year.

Since the festival started in 1810, it’s been canceled 24 times. Cholera outbreaks, World War I, and World War II are the major events that caused most of the long-term closures throughout history. In total, this will be the 25th year Oktoberfest will not open. In the past, Oktoberfest didn’t exactly reopen the very next year, either. The festival is known for easing back into life via a much smaller and local-focused “autumn festival.”

(Via Deutsche Welle)