Oktoberfest by numbers
Feature Story - Germany - The Guardian

Oktoberfest by numbers

The 181st Oktoberfest gets under way in Munich on 20 September. Here are the vital statistics.

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The record for the number of mallet blows needed to tap the first keg at the traditional opening ceremony, which was set by Munich mayor Christian Ude. The midday opening day ritual has been a mayoral duty since 1950, when Thomas Wimmer needed a feeble 17 blows. Ude hit his two-blow mark several times over the years, probably because he got in enough practice while governing the city from 1993 to April this year. His successor, Dieter Reiter, has reportedly been practicing in secret so as not to make a fool of himself this Saturday when he makes his first attempt.


It was just a matter of time, but some Oktoberfest brewers have finally leaped over the psychological €10 a litre hurdle this year. Seven tents will now be charging double figures for a Maß (or 1.76 UK pints) – with an average 2.58% price hike across all tents on last year. Not only that, a city official charged with spot-checking the breweries estimated that, at Oktoberfest 2013, only one in three Maß glasses were filled all the way up.


The number of beer-recovery/hangover beds the Red Cross has in its on-site emergency station. Between 7,000 and 10,000 people come to the Red Cross for medical treatment every year, with 2012 marking a record year for what Germans call Bierleichen (“beer-corpses”- the paralytically drunk) at just over 800. They even keep spare pairs of trousers on hand to make the journey home slightly less humiliating.


Record number of beers carried in one go, albeit with a certain amount of spillage, set by waiter Oliver Struempfl.


The number of Oktoberfests that actually happened in October. These days, a September start is standard. Up until 1872, the Oktoberfest always began in October. But even then people pointed out that Munich’s heavy autumnal rainfall wasn’t conducive to excessive carousing. The first requests to move the Oktoberfest to sunnier September were made in 1828, but they weren’t granted until half a century later on the grounds that this would disrupt the gathering of local harvests.


The amount in euros you may be fined if caught relieving yourself in public. There are, however, ample facilities – including 878 metres of urinals for men.


The number of Oktoberfest-related apps currently available on the iPhone’s app store, including the official one, which tells you which beer tents are less crowded at any given moment and where the cheapest beer is. There is also the marginally less practical iPlattl, which purports to teach you the traditional Bavarian thigh, knee and shoe slapping dance known as Schuhplattler. It is an ancient courtship ritual.


The number of lederhosen and dirndl-clad people expected to take part in the traditional costume parade through Munich on the first Sunday of the fest. It was first held in 1835 to honour the silver wedding anniversary of King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Therese, after whom the hallowed Oktoberfest site, the Theresienwiese, is named. The parade is made up of hunting clubs and traditional folk-music bands from across Europe. If you have your own marching oompah band you are welcome to apply for a slot.


the single largest capacity of an Oktoberfest tent (including beer-garden). This is the Hofbräufestzelt, run by the storied Hofbräu brewery, which owns one of Munich’s most visited tourist attractions – the Hofbräuhaus in the centre of town. The tent expects to sell some 780,000 litres of beer and 6,000 pairs of sausages during the 16 days of the Oktoberfest.


The estimated value in euros of the Oktoberfest to the Munich economy. The 6.4 million Oktoberfest guests are thought to spend around €320 million on the grounds of the Oktoberfest alone. Hotels and hostels rake in just over €300 million, with some hiking room prices five- or even eight-fold. The six official Munich breweries authorized to sell beer at the Oktoberfest are protected by city council edicts, ensuring that the beer money, at least, stays in the local economy. A total of 12,000 people find employment at the Oktoberfest each year.