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Berlin Fan Mile Beats Oktoberfest in Popularity Contest

DW staff (dc)July 12, 2006

With its World Cup fan mile, Berlin gave Munich's Oktoberfest a run for its money in the stakes as the ultimate party draw -- and won, say officials from the German Tourism Office.

In a little north-south rivalry, Berlin topped Munich with its fan mileImage: AP

It was a cliche-buster, that's for sure. With nary a dirndl or pair of lederhosen in sight, with soccer -- not beer -- as the main attraction, Berlin's fan mile managed to outstrip the Munich Oktoberfest and claim the title of party of the year.

According to the German Tourism Office, nine million people flocked to the Berlin boulevard where giant screens broadcast World Cup matches. In contrast, the annual Oktoberfest in the southern city of Munich only manages to attract a paltry six million visitors.

The atmosphere at the fan mile was so friendly and peace-loving that a little old lady could have ventured into the crowds with her handbag dangling loosely and not have been robbed.

By comparison, if you go to Oktoberfest, you have to be prepared for hand-to-hand combat. Pickpockets abound, greeting each other by name, pointing out those easy targets who've consumed the contents of one stein too many.

Hopes of a repeat performance in the future

Kultur21 Oktoberfest 2
Must the Oktoberfest in Munich fear competition from Berlin?Image: DW-TV

Fortunately for Munich's tourism industry, the World Cup in Germany was a one-off event that poses no threat to the Bavarian city's reputation as the party capital of Germany.

But wait a second -- Berlin's mayor Klaus Woworeit has other thoughts. No, he won't be able to conjure up a second World Cup next summer. But so impressed was he with the success of the fan mile, that he has suggested reviving the experience for future events that "will again move the masses."

The question is, what event has the ability to move the masses quite like the World Cup? Cleverly sticking to the sports theme, Wowereit suggested the 2008 European Championships being played in Austria and Switzerland -- at least on those days when Germany plays.

This naturally adds a new dimension to the job description of Germany's new national coach Joachim 'Jogi' Löw: Give us exciting soccer so that Germans can continue to feel good about themselves. But woe to him if the team fails to qualify for that tournament, and dashes the hopes of millions of Germans eager to renew 2006's summer soccer love-fest.