From September 22 to October 7, 2018, the 185th annual Oktoberfest will take place in Bavaria, Germany. It is predicted that 7.2 million people will visit the world’s largest folk festival this year, with September 29 and October 6 projected to be the busiest days. Though there are not yet any specific, credible threats, security at the festival has increased in recent years due to non-specific terrorism-related concerns to keep attendees as safe as possible.
Consider downloading the official Oktoberfest App to access useful information and features such as a detailed fairground map. The U.S. Consulate in Munich has also issued a list of “tips for a fun and safe Oktoberfest.”
If you plan to attend the festival, stay alert in order to mitigate the main risks, such as fraud, petty crimes, or alcohol-related incidents that often occur during large public events.
- Fraud: Be cautious of reservation resellers trying to offer meal vouchers along with table reservations for Oktoberfest’s sponsored beer garden tents at a significantly higher rate than market value. Remember that if a table reservation has been resold, the claim for a table becomes void.
- Crime: Due to the anticipated number of visitors, petty crimes and alcohol-related incidents are the most common threats. Always keep an eye on your valuables to avoid being pickpocketed. Taking a beer mug from a beer garden is considered a criminal offense in Germany. According to country laws, beer mugs are considered deadly weapons and the use of a beer mug in an assault is classified as a felony.
- Alcohol: Always drink responsibly. Remember that German beer is stronger than American beer. One traditional liter of German beer contains the same alcohol content as a six-pack of American beer. Avoid confrontation with unruly visitors. Fighting is considered a criminal offense that can lead to arrest.
- There is only one police station, and it sits in front of the Bavaria statue to the left. It does not look anything like the rest of the tents at the festival. There are also police officers dressed in plain clothes that drive unmarked cars, but you can always ask to see their ID cards, which are green and laminated. Additionally, emergency phones can be found on the light poles with security cameras to call local police. You can always request an English-speaking police officer.
- There are many public transportation options to get to the festival, including the train system and the bus system. Make sure to validate your train ticket before boarding to avoid a 60 euro fine. Trains will run until 2am on weekend nights and until 1am on weeknights. Expect all forms of public transportation to be crowded and exercise caution with your valuables to avoid pickpocketing.
- Another transportation option is taxis and ride-shares. However, hailing a local taxi might be difficult due to increased popularity. Ride-share apps in Munich are also available, including Uber, Talixo, and Blacklane. Do not share a taxi or rideshare with someone you do not know. Driving to the event yourself is not recommended as there will be heavy traffic, lack of parking availability, and risk of impaired driving. Bicycling while intoxicated can lead to a fine of over 1,000 euros.
- Keep a copy of your passport on you at all times. The police can ask to see your ID at any time.
- Avoid protests and demonstrations. Leave the area quickly and calmly at the first sign of a group (civilians and/or security personnel) forming.
- Use precautions to avoid petty and opportunistic crime such as pickpocketing and mugging. Keep your valuables hidden. Check your bank statement frequently and do not use an ATM that appears to have been tampered with.
If you are abroad and need immediate assistance, you can always call International SOS at 001-215-942-8059 (consult www.howtocallabroad.com if you have difficulties) or text them through their Assistance App. You can also call UTPD at 001-512-471-4441.