Half-time at the Wiesn: fewer visitors, less beer, more mulled wine

The Oktoberfest in Munich is satisfied with the first half.

Half-time at the Wiesn: fewer visitors, less beer, more mulled wine

The Oktoberfest in Munich is satisfied with the first half. After a two-year pandemic break, more than three million people have flocked to the festival site. However, the folk festival is still a long way from the pre-corona level. Not everyone is unhappy about this.

Fewer guests, less alcohol, fewer patients in the first aid station: After a two-year break from the pandemic, the Oktoberfest has had a quiet restart. Around three million guests, 300,000 fewer than at the last Wiesn before the pandemic, attended the festival by halftime. According to Clemens Baumgärtner, the reason for this was the bad weather. So that the guests can warm themselves inside, there has been mulled wine since Sunday. The song "Layla", which is controversial because of sexism, is already emerging as a possible Oktoberfest hit - which the hosts actually didn't want to play at all.

As always, the celebrities celebrate. At the weekend, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger came with his girlfriend and sons, Elyas M'Barek and his wife Jessica were also seen. It is a Oktoberfest like it used to be, with many mainly English-speaking tourists and also with many families, said Wiesn boss Baumgärtner. "The fear that one or the other might be a bit strange after two years did not materialize."

Especially at the more traditional Oidn Wiesn in the southern part of the site, with 100,000 guests, there were not even half as many visitors as in 2019. "I'm not on the hunt for record numbers," said Baumgärtner, who is also an economics officer. It is important that the festival takes place again after a two-year Corona break.

Corona does not seem to play a major role for those who come to the festival. The jugs are clinking in the tents, a slightly younger audience celebrates close together, masks are the absolute exception. Tens of thousands crowd in the alleys between tents and rides. According to the festival management, there are no major staff shortages due to Covid-19, neither with the hosts nor with the showmen or security services. However, doctors and politicians expect a corona wave after the Wiesn. Experience has shown that the incidences increased, in some cases significantly, one and a half to two weeks after the start of folk festivals.

The landlords report a 15 percent drop in beer consumption compared to 2019, and the helpers at the Wiesn medical station had to treat 30 percent fewer patients. Unlike innkeepers and showmen, they are happy about fewer visitors here, emphasized operations manager Michel Belcijan. Despite the drop in alcohol consumption, about half of the 2,600 medical treatments in the medical center this year were alcohol-related.

The start of the festival a week ago fell through, only a few days of sunny autumn weather attracted many. On Sunday, many were shivering again in short lederhosen and dirndls. Because the weather forecast is also bad for the next week, there is now mulled wine. It was decided to allow ice cream stands to be served, said Baumgärtner. Ice cream vendors in particular are not doing good business at the moment. The scent of mulled wine brings a first touch of Christmas. However, he finds it exaggerated that "Merry Christmas" is now being played, as he has already heard.

Because of the cold, electricity consumption increased by almost 1.5 percent compared to 2019. The showmen have to heat their caravans, and according to the Wiesn boss, this is often done with electricity. In return, gas consumption fell by 13 percent. To what extent the waiver of patio heaters decided by the innkeepers as a contribution to saving energy will have an impact and whether this should also be the case in 2023 is still being examined.

The police reported slightly fewer operations with 923 (2019: 1010). However, there was more resistance to police officers, more pickpocketing - one of all people attacked a police officer - and a little more sex crimes. However, none of the cases involved rape. About 120 times there were reports of bodily harm - 17 times alone the beer mug was used as a weapon. The officials also helped in unusual cases: A few days ago, they escorted a budgerigar to the animal shelter that had gotten lost on the Wiesn and had sought refuge with a stall owner.