Germany: Oktoberfest cancelled for the second year in a row

Authorities in Bavaria and Bavaria’s capital Munich have canceled the world’s largest beer festival for the second year in a row. The decision was made with a "heavy heart," Bavaria's state premier Markus Söder said on Monday, but "the situation is too precarious." Measures such as face masks and social distancing "would not be feasible" in the festival's traditional beer tents, he added.

While the third wave of the pandemic in Germany has seemingly reached its peak and numbers of patients infected with the corona virus are declining, officials do not want to risk a cancellation on short term if this should prove to be necessary. "Imagine there was a new wave and it then became a super-spreader event. The brand would be damaged forever and we don't want that," Mr. Söder said.

The world's largest beer festival, which attracted 6.3 million visitors in 2019 is estimated to bring EUR 1.23 billion (USD 1.5 billion) for the local economy. It had been scheduled from September 18 to October 3.

One year ago, in April 2020, Mr. Söder and Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter already canceled the Oktoberfest 2020, the first time in modern history. (, 21.4.2020)

Since 1810, when the first Oktoberfest took place in Munich, the festival has been cancelled 26 times, mostly during war times (1813 war against Napoleon, 1866 war against Prussia, 1870 war against France, 1914-1920 first world war and  1939-1948 second world war) and 1923-1924 for reasons of inflation. However, three pandemics have also caused a cancellation of this popular festival (1854 and 1873 Cholera pandemic and 2020-2021 Corona-virus pandemic).

Before the pandemic, Oktoberfest was a draw for people from all over the world. Dozens of offshoots established themselves around the world, some of which also used the name Oktoberfest. This was a thorn in the side of the city of Munich being the organizers of the official Oktoberfest. They feared that this could damage the Oktoberfest brand and tried since 2016 to register the name.

Last October, it became known that the city of Munich was successful with its appeal against a ruling of The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) from last year (, 8.10.2020) where the EUIPO had dismissed the request of the Bavarian capital in the first instance (, 24.9.2019). Finally last Friday, the application of the registration was published. The objection period runs until the end of July until the final protection will be achieved.

The Munich city administration wants to prevent the worldwide proliferation of Oktoberfest profiteers. The term is to be protected for 22 "product classes" from soap and credit cards to uniform rental. Protection of the Oktoberfest brand would not mean that the countless Oktoberfest imitations from Brazil to Malaysia could no longer take place, but in future a permit would be necessary for this.

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