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Germany

Less Space at Oktoberfest, but More Expensive

The 175th Oktoberfest doesn't kick off until September 20, but if you haven't reserved your spot in the beer tents, you're already too late -- it's all booked out.

Model Yvonne takes a sip from a beer glass adorned with the logo of the Oktoberfest 2008

There'll be no cheap dates at this year's Oktoberfest

According to the Munich Tourist Office, all the tables in the famous beer tents are already taken. But never fear! Oktoberfest director Gabriele Weishaeupl says that some 60 percent of the 103,000 seats available can't actually be reserved, and if visitors come during the day, then they'll definitely be able to put their feet up.

It will, however, be a more expensive pleasure than ever. With a liter of suds costing over 8 euros ($13), prices have gone up by 40 cents since last year. Moreover, the grounds for the event touted as the world's biggest funfair have been reduced from 31 to 26 hectares.

Smoking reprieve

Visitors lift their beersteins at the Oktoberfest

All this, and cigarettes too

At least visitors will be able to smoke this year after the Bavarian cabinet agreed to relax the smoking ban that came into force in January.

Under the reprieve, beer tents and those serving wine or used for special functions will be exempted from the smoking ban for 12 months.

"From January 1, 2009 the smoking ban will be enforced in the tents," said Bavarian Prime Minister Guenther Beckstein.

It would have marked the first time in the Oktoberfest's 200-year history that people would not be allowed to smoke in the massive beer tents, some of which can accommodate up to 10,000 guests.

Ending on October 5, the event is expected to attract over 6 million visitors.

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