Sunshine Blesses Bavarian Beer Fest Oktoberfest Visitors Devour 11 Oxen

Munich's Oktoberfest opened on Saturday to brilliant sunshine and the sound of Oompah bands, attracting 1 million visitors on the opening weekend, 100,000 more than last year. They drank half a million liters of beer and for some reason devoured more oxen than last year.

Visitors to this year's Munich Oktoberfest ate 11 oxen and drank 500,000 liters of beer in the first two days, the organizers of the world's biggest beer festival said on Monday.

The city was blessed with glorious sunshine on Saturday and Sunday when it staged two grand processions of decorated beercarts, Oompah bands, folk groups and waitresses in Dirndl dresses to mark the opening of one of the world's most famous festivals. The weather boosted visitor numbers over the first weekend to 1 million, up 100,000 from last year. The festival was so packed that most of the 14 giant tents were closed to newcomers shortly after midday, when Munich mayor Christian Ude started the beer flowing by ceremonially tapping the first keg.

"We had more visitors but beer consumption was barely changed from last year," Oktoberfest spokeswoman Gabriele Papke told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "But they ate more, as the oxen figures show."

Papke said the good weather had boosted visitor numbers at the weekend but that rain was forecast for this week, making it impossible to predict whether the two-week festival which ends October 7 will attract more visitors than the average of 6 million over the last few years. A total of 6 million liters of beer are expected to be drunk.

The Red Cross ambulance service counted only 60 so-called "beer corpses" -- people who had drunk themselves into unconsciousness -- on Saturday, half as many as last year, but a spokeswoman for the Munich police had her doubts about the figure. "I can't imagine it was so few," she told SPIEGEL ONLINE, adding that the police attended to 112 incidents over the weekend and detained 53 people for a variety of offenses.

The incidents reflected Oktoberfest's truly international character. An over-exuberant American man, for example, threw a 15-centimeter carrot through a tent, slightly injuring a 29-year-old woman from Chile just below the eye.

And one drunken 22-year-old Swiss man who visited a ghost train, one of the attractions at the Oktoberfest, got so scared by a mechanical ghost that he literally punched its lights out.



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