This morning, we woke up to the news that Bavaria’s famed Oktoberfest — the world’s largest beer festival — had been canceled for 2020. The epic party usually draws over six million people to Munich, Germany. It’s been a cornerstone of the city’s culture since 1810. But even 210 years of history can’t overcome the continued threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though some states in Germany are conservatively opening up shops, all large gatherings (sports, concerts, street parties, etc.) are banned until at least August 31st with some states like Berlin extending that to late October. Seeing as it’s only April 21st and Oktoberfest was slated to run from September 19th to October 4th, not having things to look forward to basically six months from now is gutting for German citizens. It’s especially tough on the people who build their years around working at the enormous festival.
This isn’t the first time Oktoberfest has been canceled, though. 2020 is the 25th year out of 210 total that the festival won’t happen. History is a cruel master and full of calamities that disrupt our lives and force us to adjust.
Here are all the times Oktoberfest has been canceled since 1810.
- 1813 — Napoleonic War
- 1854 — Cholera Pandemic
- 1866 — Austro-Prussian War
- 1870 — Franco-Prussian War
- 1873 — Cholera Pandemic
- 1914-1920 — World War I and Recovery
- 1923-1924 — Economic Fallout From WWI
- 1939-1948 — World War II and Recovery
- 2020 — COVID-19 Pandemic
It’s worth noting that during 1918, 1919, and 1946-1948 there were smaller “Autumn Festivals” in Oktobefest’s place. Very little beer was allowed to be sold and what was available had a very low ABV. The whole fest was pretty much a locals-only affair, especially after WWII since most of Munich had been reduced to rubble.
It’s hard to know what Oktoberfest 2021 might look like but, assuming people feel safe traveling or there’s a vaccine available, expect it to be a party for the ages. This is not a tradition that the German people will let die — that much is certain.