Fewer Visitors, More Beer Guests Defy Rain for Oktoberfest Opener

Rainy weather discouraged visitors as taps opened at Oktoberfest this weekend, but it didn't diminish their thirst. Though there were fewer revellers than usual at the world's largest festival, they drank just as much beer, despite yet another price increase.

DPA

The 179th Oktoberfest opened Saturday amid the usual trappings of dirndls and lederhosen, pretzels and oompah music. Unfortunately, the fun was marred by rain and clouds, with the opening weekend attracting just 850,000 revellers compared to the 1 million who came to kickstart the occasion in 2011.

"I'm looking forward to a peaceful event and better weather," said Munich's Mayor Christian Ude when he tapped the first keg to launch the 16-day event.

But paramedics weren't complaining. "Considerably fewer" visitors needed treatment for alcohol poisoning than normal, according to the Bavarian Red Cross. There were also fewer cases of cardiovascular and circulatory problems, not least due to the cooler temperatures. Police also weren't as busy as usual, reporting just a few scuffles and instances of pretty theft.

Enthusiam Makes Up for Numbers

By Sunday, the weather cleared up just in time for the traditional costume and riflemen's parade through central Munich. Some 10,000 members of heritage associations from Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland took part, and were joined by the owners of the main beer tents in horse-drawn carriages to the Theresienwiese festival grounds.

The crowds might have been smaller than usual, but they were just as thirsty, managing to down 1 million liters of beer in the first two days of the festival despite a Mass costing between €9.10 and €9.50, up an average of €0.35 from 2011.

And with another 2 weeks to go, there's still have plenty of time to outdo last year's 6.9 million visitors, who drank 7,9 million liters of beer and polished off 522,000 roasted chickens, 125,000 sausages, 69,9000 pork knuckles and 118 oxen.

jlp -- with wire reports

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