Germany: Munich kicks off alternative Oktoberfest | News | DW | 18.09.2021

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Germany: Munich kicks off alternative Oktoberfest

Dozens of local restaurants and pubs in Munich are keeping the Oktoberfest tradition alive, while the festival grounds again hosts COVID-19 testing centers.

A man pours a beer at the alternative Oktoberfest Wirtshauswiesn 2021

This year's toned down Oktoberfest has been dubbed the Wirtshauswiesn

Munich's unofficial, low-key, alternative Oktoberfest began on Saturday, as local pubs commemorated the shuttered festival

Some 50 restaurants are participating in what was dubbed the Wirtshauswiesn, an initiative to celebrate the famous beer festival while still abiding by COVID-19 measures.

This is the second year Munich's Oktoberfest festival has been canceled, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bavarian beer festival, which draws millions of visitors from around the world, is arguably Germany's most famous event.

Participating local restaurants and pubs around Munich plan to decorate their establishments in the style of the famous tents that are set up at the Theresienwiese — the site of the Oktoberfest festival.

Traditional music will be played, seasonal beer will be served and servers, as well as attendees, will likely don the traditional lederhosen and dirndl, all typical of the festival.

The alternative Oktoberfest began on the date the actual festival would have commenced and is set to run through October 3. For those who cannot physically be in Munich, online Wiesn tours have been set up to allow fans to learn more about and remain connected to the event.

The low-key celebrations are taking place in downtown Munich

The low-key celebrations are taking place in downtown Munich

Oktoberfest 2022: COVID-19 measures expected

The actual festival grounds, the Theresienwiese, will again be used as a COVID-19 test center, much like it was last year. But unlike 2020, a ban on alcohol will not be in place, so revelers could theoretically celebrate in person, on their own, in the large open space.

Munich officials are hoping Oktoberfest will return in 2022, Mayor Dieter Reiter said on Saturday. 

"I would definitely like it to keep it at two Wiesn cancellations during my term of office," Reiter added. However, it must be ensured "that it is a safe Wiesn."

Reiter said that if the festival returns, it will likely involve coronavirus measures. "There will definitely be no Wiesn for everyone," he told Saturday's Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper. 

"If someone doesn't want to be tested or vaccinated, then they won't be able to go to the Oktoberfest in 2022," Reiter said, adding that exceptions will only be granted to children.

jcg/jlw (dpa, AFP)

Watch video 02:59

Everything you need to know about the German beer culture