The number of visitors to the opening weekend of Oktoberfest in Munich, which kicked off on Saturday, was reportedly down by half, with only about 500,000 people partaking in the start of the event this year compared to about a million people in 2015. Though rainy weather was also thought to dampen the turnout, Germany’s The Local reported that “fears over public safety were believed to be the main deterrent to people flocking in their millions to the Bavarian capital.”
Back in July, three separate attacks took place in Germany – the most deadly, a gunman who killed nine people after opening fire in a Munich shopping center – leading to heightened security at this year’s annual 16-day beer festival that is expected to draw as many as 6 million people. The city doubled the number of security guards from last year and added 100 additional police officers. Plus, for the first time in the event’s nearly 200 year run, the festival area is surrounded by a fence. “We have done everything that was necessary and appropriate,” Munich deputy major Josef Schmid was quoted as saying. “The character of this biggest, most beautiful festival will not change.” Before the festival began, Munich police chief Werner Feiler also insisted that “we have no indication of a concrete danger.”
According to Munchies, if attendance remains down for the duration of the festival, it will mark the second year in a row that Oktoberfest has seen lower turnout thanks to global instability. Last year, increased border controls enacted as a response to Europe’s refugee crisis made travel to the event more complicated. That coupled with bad weather helped cut numbers in 2015 by about 400,00 people from 2014.
Hopefully attendance will pick up for the remainder of the festival. There is nothing worse than unworn lederhosen and leftover lager.