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Stands at an Oktoberfest fair (c) DW
Image: DW

Spending spree

Henrik Böhme / uhe
October 2, 2012

As more than 3.5 million visitors have visited Munich's Oktoberfest in its first week, the 16-day beer fest is set to break all records. Business is booming as the world spends big on beer, pretzel and Bavarian costumes.

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Every morning a fleet of busses parks in front of the campground owned by Gerd Folger. Situated on the fringes of Munich, the place is crowded these days by tourists seeking cheap accommodation - enabling them to spend even bigger at the beer tents of the Oktoberfest.

In a shuttle service, running from breakfast till midnight, the busses bring the tourists to Theresienwiese - the hub of the world's biggest beer fest, which takes place in Bavaria's capital for 16 days every autumn.

Traffic is heavy in downtown Munich, and the thousands of visitors crowding the city's urban train system need a bit of nudging along by tourist guides in yellow vests to find their way to one of the numerous beer tents set up by Bavarian breweries.

"During the Oktoberfest, we have well over 500 percent more traffic than usual," a worker of Munich's public transport authority (MVG) told DW.

Record crowds and sales

At half-time this year, the Oktoberfest has already drawn about 100,000 people more than in the first week of 2011, meaning the event is headed for a record attendance of over 6 million visitors.

Revelers have been drinking a staggering 3 million liters of full-flavored Bavarian beer so far, with a one-liter mug costing between 9.60 euros ($12.3) and 10 euros. According to an opinion poll, each visitor spends about 60 euros on average during their stay.

In addition to beer, pretzel and roast chicken, about 130 fairground rides give visitors a chance to frolic and spend. Old-style fairground entertainment such as shooting galleries, ball toss and Nagelbude - a traditional competition of hammering nails into a wooden plank - are all the rage this year.

Small wonder that Munich's hotel and restaurant owners are frolicking too, in view of a record number of tourists coming to this year's event.

"At the two weekends, you won't find any apartment vacant, so that there might only be a slim chance of finding hotel accommodation during weekdays," Ralf Schell, a senior executive of the Hotel Owners Association, told DW.

Multi-ethnic attendance

The Munich Oktoberfest is not only a rowdy affair, but a multi-ethnic event, as well. About 30 percent of visitors come from outside of Germany - with Italian guests traditionally forming a strong contingent.

High in demand among them are traditional Bavarian costumes - the Dirndl and Lederhosen.

In recent years, Bavarian traditional fashion has found more and more buyers in the United States, Russia and Asia - and not only during the Oktoberfest season.

A merry-go-round (c) DW
Plenty of fun despite the dark skiesImage: DW
Nails in a board (c) DW
Nailing competitions are a challenge to Oktoberfest revelersImage: DW
Waitress carrying beer mugs (c) DW/Shant Shahrigian
Heavy lifting - Oktoberfest waitresses often carry up to ten beer mugsImage: DW/Shant Shahrigian
People in a train station (c) DW
Thousands throng Munich train stations on the way to the beer festImage: DW
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