As the world’s most legendary volksfest kicks off this Saturday, images of sturdy, foam-topped, clinking glassware and fluffy, mouthwatering pretzels come to mind. The buzz around Munich’s perennial favourite is still as ever present as always - but a tangy bite undercuts the usually carefree atmosphere. As early as April this year, headlines foretelling a security crackdown at Oktoberfest began popping up.
That was before the attempted Turkish coup d'état in July, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel driving into Bastille Day crowds in Nice, and 18-year-old David Sonboly fatally shooting nine people at a McDonald’s in Munich. Of course, not every 2016 incident has fallen under the umbrella of “terror attack”, or even been understood in its full context. Some might say that ongoing prejudice and myriad other factors emerging from the fallout beyond these events are how the UK ended up with the reality of Brexit.
One thing is for sure, however; attitudes toward current affairs really do pack a punch in 2016. Following a revised “Munich security concept”, backpack bans will be enforced for the 183rd Oktoberfest, as well as mobile fences to ensure that every hops chasing reveller goes through security.
Several online publications, primarily in Germany and the UK, reported on local hotel bookings taking a dive of 10 - 15%, quoting authoritative source DEHOGA (the German Hotel and Restaurant Association). Long-running activities have apparently taken a hit as well, based on organiser concerns for keeping large groups of patrons safe.
Sentiment across social media, news, blogs and forums appears to have taken a nosedive in relation to security issues for Oktoberfest, at just 7% positive. 54% of posts were neutral and 39% negative.
Beyond German borders, Oktoberfest-ready cities and towns are predominantly excited to present their own homegrown renditions of the event. Small businesses and sponsors appear enthusiastic at the prospect of celebrating the food and drink industry, and attracting new customers. Local news outlets do report on security measures however, as well as efforts to minimise risks at the parent event. Similarly in Munich, promoters insist that hesitance on the part of some previous sponsors is of little consequence, given the long line of brands clamouring to replace them.
Most fans enthusiastically anticipate both the traditional Munich affair and localised events, but according to our data, 9 of every 10 social media posts make reference to the tightened security measures.
However you’re spending it, we wish every Oktoberfest attendee and sponsor a fantastic, safe time.