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A by-the-numbers guide to Oktoberfest: From how many liters of beer are consumed to who celebrates

By By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
September 28, 2016, 3:52:06 AM EDT

Oktoberfest is in full swing in Munich as millions flock to the southern part of Germany for the annual event.

Rain kept nearly half of the usual Oktoberfest crowds away during the first weekend of the famed event. Though there can be an isolated shower or thunderstorms around early this week, largely dry weather will persist as temperatures warm later in the week.

On average, about one million people swarm Munich during the first weekend, usually in mid-September. But to start 2016's event, around 500,000 showed up as rain created sloppy, damp conditions, according to muenchen.de.

Rainfall totaled 60 mm (2.36 inches) through the first three days of the event, blowing past the the 9 mm (0.36 of an inch) that fell over the entire festival in 2015. Normal rainfall during the event is 35 mm (1.40 inches).

Along with the rain, temperatures climbed only as high as 15 C (59 F) through Tuesday, well below the normal high of 19 C (66 F). The highest temperature recorded during Oktoberfest 2015 was 21.7 C (71 F).

While daytime high temperatures are often comfortable throughout the festival, nighttime temperatures regularly fall below 10 C (50 F) with the chilliest nights falling below 4 C (40 F).

While many people associate Oktoberfest with Germany in general, it is actually a celebration of Bavarian culture. Roughly 70 percent of those in attendance are from Bavaria, while 15 percent comes from the rest of Germany and the remaining 15 percent from other countries.

On 12 October 1810, a celebration was held at the front of the city gates of Munich to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese, according to the City of Munich's website. Because the celebration was enjoyed by the citizens of the city and by the Royal Family, they decided to continue the tradition of throwing a festival year after year.

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Some time later, the start of the festival was moved earlier in the year in order to take advantage of the nicer weather in late September. Oktoberfest continues into the beginning of October, typically ending on the first weekend of the month.

Oktoberfest is known for the vast array of beverages; however, food ranging from chicken and pork to fish and beef are available long with numerous tasty side dishes including pretzels, potato pancakes, cheese noodles and red cabbage.

Despite the lower turn out, festival hosts reported that nine oxen were consumed during the first weekend, only slightly down from 10 during the opening weekend of 2015, according to the local.de. In total, 114 oxen were consumed during the 2015 festival.


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Oktoberfest includes 14 large brewery tents and around 20 smaller tents which all serve beer from Munich’s six largest breweries across a sprawling 42 hectare fairground. There is also one tent for wine drinkers.

In 2015, 5.9 million visitors consumed 7.7 million liters of beer along with more than 1.5 million liters of other beverages. The average price for a liter of beer was between €10.10 and €10.40.

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While there are seats for more than 100,000 visitors, according to Germany Insider Facts, reservations at the most popular tents are recommended.

While there are some non-reserved tables in each tent, you will want to arrive early in the day to access a spot in the tent of your choice.

The Hofbrau-Festzelt is known as a favorite of international tourists while Augustiner-Festhalle is often heavily attended by locals and known for the best Oktoberfest beer.


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Oktoberfest offers fun for the entire family with a variety of amusement park rides such as a ferris wheel, roller coaster and free-fall tower. Each Tuesday is a family day which features discounted rides and performances for children from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Other popular events include the Grand Opening, which occurs at 11 a.m. on the first Saturday and ends with the tapping of the first barrel of beer by the current mayor of Munich around noon. Visitors also flock to the costume and Riflemen’s Parade on the first Sunday and the brass band concert on the second Sunday.

The large number of attendees combined with drinking and other festivities results in an abundance of lost items each year. More than 4,500 items were turned into the lost and found in 2015 including 600 passports, 580 wallets, 320 mobile phones, 230 glasses, two wedding rings and one dog.

In addition, 21 children were separated from their family and safely returned.


Following a wet opening weekend, dry and weather prevailed during the first week of the event.

Though an isolated shower or thunderstorm could dampen a small portion of the day on Monday and on Tuesday, this week should feature the continuation of dry weather.

High temperatures will be slightly higher than average during the course of the week, though mornings will be cool and a light jacket may be needed.

Contributions by Meteorologist Adam Douty

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