Corona: Oktoberfest 2020 has been cancelled

Oktoberfest (19.09 - 04.10.2020) cancelled due to coronavirus

(April 21, 2020) The largest folk festival in the world has been cancelled. Due to the spread of the coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2), Oktoberfest will not be holding this year. This difficult decision was announced by Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) and Munich's Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) at a joint press conference in the State Chancellery. But there's hope for Wiesn 2021. See more on their statements and background information.

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Prime Minister Söder on the Oktoberfest cancellation: "It hurts us"

OB Dieter Reiter und Ministerpräsident Markus Söder verkünden das Aus für die Wiesn 2020, Foto: picture alliance/Sven Hoppe/dpa
Foto: picture alliance/Sven Hoppe/dpa Mayor Dieter Reiter (Left) and Prime Minister Markus Söder announce the cancellation of the Oktoberfest 2020

At 9am today (April 21), Prime Minister Markus Söder and Mayor Dieter Reiter held a press conference in the State Chancellery to officially announce what had been speculated for some time. The Oktoberfest will not take place in 2020.

"It hurts us and it is a pity," said the Prime Minister about the decision. But "we agreed that the risk is simply too high". The spread of the coronavirus would not allow any other option. "We want to continue to protect Bavaria," said the Prime Minister.

On April 15, the federal and state governments decided to ban major events until August 31. Although the Oktoberfest 2020 was slated for September 19 to October 4, he said that neither compulsory masks nor distance regulations can be observed for an event of this size and with guests from all over the world.

"To live with Corona means to live carefully. As long as there is no vaccine or medicine, special care must be taken." Söder referred to strong beer festivals, carnivals or the Après ski in Ischgl, which "unfortunately were virus hubs." In general, he said there can't be folk festivals of this kind at the moment.

Mayor Dieter Reiter on the Oktoberfest cancellation: "Bitter pill to swallow"

Das leere Paulaner-Zelt auf der Wiesn, Foto: picture alliance / dpa/Archivbild
Foto: picture alliance / dpa/Archivbild Empty Paulaner tent: No visitors to the Wiesn this year

Mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter also emphasized that this decision was not easy for him: "It is no easy thing for me to say: Oktoberfest 2020 will not take place. The Wiesn is the highlight of the year for Bavarians and Munich residents, and not letting it take place is of course a bitter pill to swallow ". According to the Lord Mayor, about 70 percent of the Oktoberfest visitors come from Bavaria.

Reiter was also personally very concerned, as the annual tapping is one of the central official activities of the Munich city head.

Prime Minister Söder, who is traditionally entitled to the first measure after tapping, added "The Oktoberfest is the largest and most beautiful folk festival in the world. We are both the biggest Wiesn-fans and would normally be interested in this festival taking place" .

In addition to the Wiesn, the Central Agricultural Festival (ZLF), which takes place every four years on a part of the Theresienwiese, opposite the Oktoberfest, is also cancelled.

Video: Clemens Baumgärtner on the cancellation of the Oktoberfest

Wiesn head, Clemens Baumgärtner: "Sad but right decision"

Clemens Baumgärtner (CSU), Head of Munich's department for work and economy, supported the decision and explained in an interview with "The decision makes us all sad, it affects me personally. A festival for millions, for Munich, for the joy of life that Bavaria stands for cannot take place. Of course, I fully support the decision. It is the right decision, because at the moment we can not guarantee that we would have an Oktoberfest that is a pleasure for everyone with no danger - that is a safe Oktoberfest."

He expressed his dismay at all the landlords and showmen: "It's been a difficult year for them." But the Oktoberfest as a "work of art" could not be postponed. Baumgärtner also expressed his concerns for other folk festivals: "I believe that the same fate will also apply to the city foundation festival, and that those responsible will also cancel the Spring festival (Fruehlingsfest), which has been postponed."

Reiter: The decision is "emotionally and economically difficult for the city"

Mayor Reiter also addressed the economic consequences for Munich. He said that even in economically difficult times, the cancellation would have negative effects on Munich. Not only do showmen, innkeepers and stall owners benefit from the fair, but also hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers and retailers.

The Oktoberfest has an economic value of between 1.2 and 1.3 billion euros. Reiter emphasized that the city will continue to do everything it can to support Munich's economy and allow it flourish again once the crisis is over.

Summing up, he said: "This is a difficult moment for the city, both emotionally and economically". With about 2 million foreign guests expected, Reiter said "the assurance that another wave of corona will not be triggered, is missing. Therefore I ask all Wiesn fans for your understanding."

Spokesman Peter Inselkammer: "Health has top priority"

Der Sprecher der Wiesnwirte Peter Inselkammer, Foto: Sven Hoppe/dpa/Archivbild
Foto: Sven Hoppe/dpa/Archivbild Peter Inselkammer, spokesman for the Oktoberfest organisers

The Munich Oktoberfest tent landlords also reacted to today's news with regret, but also great understanding. "Given the fact that it will still take some time to develop a vaccine and effective drugs against the lung disease Covid-19, this step was logical and necessary", the spokesman of the Oktoberfest hosts, Peter Inselkammer (photo) said. "The health of our guests is particularly important to us and has top priority." Nevertheless, he also referred to the negative financial consequences the cancellation would have on showmen and employees.

The Central Agricultural Festival (ZLF) also canceled

In addition to the Oktoberfest, Mayor Dieter Reiter also cancelled the 127th Central Agricultural Festival (ZLF), which was planned for 2020. It takes place every four years on one part of the Theresienwiese, opposite the Oktoberfest.

Hope for Oktoberfest 2021 - when it will likely take place

Lebkuchenherzen auf dem Oktoberfest, Foto: FooTToo /
Foto: FooTToo /

Reiter and Söder also rejected the idea of a small Oktoberfest. "We agree that small-scale festivals and half-meetings are of no use to Oktoberfest," said the Prime Minister. Prior to this for instance, there had been a public debate proposing to hold an Oktoberfest only for Munich residents. Söder said, "The Oktoberfest is either in its complete form or not holding at all".

After all, the hope of the Wiesn holding again next year is still alive. It is currently planned to take place from September 18 to October 3, 2021.

This is how Mayor Deiter Reiter explained the outlook: "We hope that we can make up with next year's Oktoberfest - more intense and more joyful!"

The Prime Minister also declared hopes that "next year we will start better again, when hopefully the world will be provided with a vaccine and we can joyfully invite you".

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