ORGANISERS of the world’s biggest beer festival, Munich’s Oktoberfest, have raised security after Islamist attacks in Germany last month, including banning rucksacks, introducing security checks at all entrances and erecting fencing.
Drawing some six million tourists, the Oktoberfest is a major highlight of the year for residents and visitors alike. This year’s festival runs from September 17 to October 3.
However, Bavarians are on edge after militant group Daesh (Islamic State) claimed two attacks in July, one on a train near Wuerzburg and one at a music festival in Ansbach, in which asylum seekers injured 20 people.
On top of that, an 8-year-old German-Iranian killed nine people in a shooting rampage in a shopping centre in Munich.
“We want to do everything we can in terms of security so the people of Munich and their guests can revel in a relaxed way,” deputy Munich mayor Josef Schmid said.
The city has increased the number of stewards to 450 from 250 last year. They have erected a two metre high metal fence around Theresienwiese, the open ground where the Oktoberfest is held, to ensure nobody can avoid the checks, he said.
The main Munich breweries have their own tents with long beer tables and bands. Last year they served 7.3 million litres of beer, as well as huge quantities of sausages, bretzel and whole spit-roasted bulls.
The Oktoberfest has its origins in the wedding in 1810 of Bavarian crown prince Ludwig and princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburg hausen. The public festivities went on for five days and were so popular they have been repeated annually.