The city of Munich has done more than survive this years Oktoberfest, with locals celebrating, and crime rates down from last year.
“There are so many people that are just so damn happy that this Oktoberfest is every year,” says 22-year-old university student and current Munich resident, Julia Maehl. It is a sentiment that most people in Munich seem to share.
Oktoberfest 2018 has passed, with the last of the tents packed away, and beer bottles all but gone from the gutters. Locals are back to work as usual, most with fond memories of the festival, lamenting its end for another year. As they commute to work, many don’t miss the crowded trains that come with the 3 million tourists each year.
Julia loved her first Oktoberfest in Munich, having previously lived in Stuttgart, but is glad that she won’t be late for work now the festival is over.
“Now you have the Metro and it’s always full. The whole city is always full during Oktoberfest,” Maehl says. “I came, sometimes, too late to work because the trains were so full and not everybody could fit in.”
This years Oktoberfest saw a rise in attendance of more than half a million, making the city even more crowded than last year. Despite the crowds, a special Oktoberfest police report says that crime has dropped almost 9%, compared to last years festival.
The historic Bavarian festival may have changed throughout the years, growing larger and incorporating activities like roller coasters into its repertoire, but locals have not forgotten its roots.
Rupert Geiger, head of market and media management with Munich city council, says that each year, more than half of the 6 million attendees are from Germany’s Bavarian region.
“Most of the visitors, roughly 50% are coming from Munich or the proximities, another huge portion is coming from Bavaria, and as far as I know it’s roughly 15% coming from outside of Bavaria in Germany, and another 15% coming from outside of Germany,” Geiger says.
“It’s always important to keep in mind that the Oktoberfest is a local festival. So more than half the people come from Munich, so this really means it’s a very local festival, but of course it’s also pretty international,” he says.
With such a small percentage of overseas visitors, locals still love the chance to chat with internationals.
“You get to know a lot of people, it doesn’t matter if they drink with you, they sing with you or they’re next to you when you go to the toilet, everyone is just so open minded,” Maehl says.
Former Munich resident, university lecturer Stephan Schleim, says the openness and camaraderie of people at Oktoberfest is what he loves about the festival.
“The funny thing is you sit at this table with people you’ve never met before, and they come from all over Germany and parts of the world, and in a way because it’s crowded and because you need the seats, these are your friends for the evening,” Schleim says.
“You’re talking about very personal things, or making jokes with these people you have never seen before, and will probably never see again, but it feels very much like old friends,” he explains.
Even with the good company and friendship, the festival still has its own temporary police station, and police come from nearby countries to assist with the influx of revellers.
“There’s an extra police station at the Oktoberfest, and for this year they report a pretty strong decline in criminality at the Oktoberfest,” says Schleim. “We also have police coming from Italy and from other neighbouring countries to make sure, for example, that there are no pickpockets on the grounds or pickpockets are tracked more easily, so the police to a lot to keep that in check.”
The largest decline by far was reported in sexual crimes, which decreased one third when compared with last year, with a total of 42 offences reported, and 25 arrests made. Other crimes with strong decreases were drug-related offences and pickpocketing, with Munich police reporting a more than 10% decrease in comparison with last years Oktoberfest.
Locals still notice the heavy drinking that leads to public nuisance and violence, as well as litter around the city.
“There are so many millions of people who are drinking so many litres of beer, one year, I had to travel through Munich, but the train was really just a train full of drunk people,” Schleim recalled.
“There’s also a lot of drunk people which is a bit disgusting. When you go on the train and there’s somebody next to you…you don’t even know if he can speak anymore, they’re just like dead,” Maehl says.
Despite the public drunkenness that locals have noticed, violent crimes and drug related offences have also decreased this year.
With the city council happy with the figures, it’s time for preparations to begin for next years festival, with stall applications due by the end of the year.