Oktoberfest 2023 has broken a nearly four-decade-old record by drawing 7.2 million visitors, as announced by the festival organizers on the last day of the event. The previous attendance record was set in 1985 with over 7 million visitors, and this year, it was exceeded by 200,000 more visitors. Notably, this year's festival ran for 18 days, two days longer than usual, due to the October 3rd public holiday.
Despite achieving a new record in terms of visitor numbers, per-capita beer consumption was lower compared to previous years. Since September 16th, approximately 6.5 million liters of beer were served, which is noticeably less than the 7.3 million liters consumed in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic but still more than the 5.7 million liters consumed last year, marking the first year after a forced two-year break. (inside.beer, 4.10.2022) This translates to a consumption of significantly less than one "Maß" (the characteristic 1-liter beer mug typically used at Oktoberfest) per person.
Many visitors chose non-alcoholic beverages instead, with more than 50 percent of the drinks falling into this category. Because of the warm and sunny weather and growing health concerns, water proved to be especially popular, and in some tents, there was even a temporary shortage of it, as mentioned by Oktoberfest Chief Clemens Baumgärtner. This shift toward non-alcoholic options is seen by the officials of the city of Munich as a positive and encouraging trend.
The beer prices at Oktoberfest 2023 ranged from EUR 12.60 to EUR 14.90 per liter, which was an average increase of 6.12 percent compared to last year.
Despite concerns about high inflation potentially affecting consumer spending, the festival hosts actually saw a 15 percent increase in revenue from food and drinks compared to the previous year, as reported by Baumgärtner.
While the majority of guests hailed from Munich and its surrounding areas, many came from France, Italy, and the USA. Both the festival's hosts and amusement ride operators expressed high satisfaction with the event, as large crowds flocked to the grounds.
After Oktoberfest had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, (inside.beer, 3.5.2021) and only took place again last year for the first time, the topic of COVID-19 was no longer prominent. Very few people were seen wearing face masks, and people from all over the world celebrated closely packed in the beer tents, which, with their warm and humid atmosphere, provided an ideal environment for the spread of the coronavirus.
The SARS-CoV-2 incidence rate in Munich during Oktoberfest last year increased by a factor of three to four and was significantly higher than the national average after the festival.
This year, too, COVID-19 numbers have been rising, especially since calendar week 37, when Oktoberfest began, confirmed the Health Department (GSR) of the city of Munich. This development was expected due to Oktoberfest and the beginning of autumn. Besides COVID-19, other respiratory infections are also on the rise due to the change in seasons.
According to the GRR, the significance of the COVID-19 case numbers is limited because it depends on the number of PCR tests conducted, which are only carried out this year in suspected cases. "Despite the observed increase in COVID-19 numbers, the overall disease burden and hospital load are currently within tolerable limits due to sufficient population immunity," reported the GSR.
Andreas Franken of the Munich Police Department noted that alcohol-related incidents had decreased significantly, with 40% fewer individuals requiring overnight sobriety than the previous year. Overall, there was a slight reduction in reported crimes, with one-third of offenses related to drug violations, primarily cannabis. Cocaine was found in 40% of these cases (383 incidents). The number of assault cases remained similar to previous years, with nearly 260 incidents, including 29 cases of Maßkrug (beer mug) brawls. Notably, there was a substantial decline in reported pickpocketing cases, with a 40% reduction in reports.
Increased awareness regarding sexual offenses was also notable, leading to more cases being reported. A total of 73 sexual offenses were recorded, primarily involving incidents like upskirting (covert photography under skirts). Six cases were related to rape.
The police reported 23 alcohol-related traffic accidents, a 15% decrease from the previous year. Fewer driving licenses were confiscated, totaling 258. Incidents involving alcohol and e-scooters also decreased, with 219 cases. Additionally, 828 improperly parked vehicles were towed, and 25 drone pilots received citations for not observing the airspace restrictions above the festival ground Theresienwiese.
The medical service recorded 7,620 patients this year, slightly more than in 2019. Most diagnoses were related to alcohol poisoning, with additional cases of surgical emergencies such as lacerations and cardiovascular problems. Only 1% of injuries were attributed to fights or similar incidents.
Notably, there were only 36 cases of severely intoxicated teenagers, representing a 50% decrease compared to 2019. However, a less favorable record was set with the highest recorded blood alcohol content reaching 3.6 per mille.