Munich beer festival kicks off

20th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Munich's Social Democrat mayor Christian Ude launched the two-week festival by broaching the first barrel of beer on the stroke of midday, following the tradition begun in 1810.

Munich -- Munich's annual beer festival kicked off Saturday with general elections in a week's time seemingly far from the mind of most participants.

This year's Oktoberfest, the 176th, sees the price of a traditional litre mug up by 30 cents to between 8.10 and 8.60 euros (11.90 and 12.60 dollars) and the press warned not to film drunken bare-chested revellers.

"We have had enough of politics," said 18-year-old Hans, an economics student.

"We are here just to booze. I can drink five litres and then I am completely smashed," he said, deploring the spike in beer prices.

"It must be the world's most expensive beer!" he said.

A woman who gave her name as Eva echoed him.

Sporting a traditional Bavarian skirt, the 38-year-old said: "We are here to drink and to meet friends... We don't want to see politicians here, we don't want to pay for their drinks."

Munich's Social Democrat mayor Christian Ude launched the two-week festival by broaching the first barrel of beer on the stroke of midday, following the tradition begun in 1810.

But the warning by the organisers not to film revellers has angered the Bavarian journalists' union, which has alleged "pre-censorship."

"The Oktoberfest is not just an idyllic world. It's in the public interest to record this great event," union chief Wolfgang Stoeckel said Friday.

Bavarian government head Horst Seehofer of the conservative Christian Social Union was also present, and other top politicians were expected to put in an appearance in a bid to drum up votes ahead of Sunday's polls.

The Oktoberfest attracts some six million visitors a year, who swallow as many litres of beer and bring in 830 million euros to the southern German city.

But the festivities sometimes degenerate into fighting, with glasses and bottles used as weapons.

AFP/Expatica

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