Oktoberfest hangover – invasion of rowdy tourist drinkers spoils beer festival for the locals

Rowdy Brits, Americans and Antipodeans are keeping local drinkers away, say festival staff

Gangs of drunken English-speaking men stand on tables stripped to the waist and bawling out drinking songs to the beat of a Lederhosen-clad Bavarian brass band. As they clink foaming tankards, their similarly beer-bloated girlfriends slip out for a quick pee on the grass outside – welcome to Munich’s legendary Oktoberfest.

The familiar scenes occur every year at the world-famous beer drinking festival with all the main action happening at the 6,000-seat Hofbräuhaus beer tent which has become a Mecca for foreign visitors – especially youthful Brits, Australians, Americans and New Zealanders.

Backpacker websites put the Oktoberfest, which is currently under way in Bavaria, at the top of their to-do list and offer round-trips from London to Munich for just over €260 (£217) a head to Antipodeans doing a European tour. “You can really let your hair down in Munich,” claims one.

Most German beer drinkers rarely attempt to match the excesses of their English-speaking festival guests. But organisers and staff at the Oktoberfest have for decades tolerated, if not encouraged, maximum-volume drinking among foreigners because it earns money and enhances the festival’s reputation for wicked debauchery.

However, staff at this year’s event, which draws to a close on Sunday, say the fortnight-long drinking marathon is being overrun by too many young, drink-obsessed foreign tourists who are driving traditional local festival-goers away.

A survey conducted by Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper at the Oktoberfest found that staff complained that this year’s festival seemed to have attracted “only tourists”. Gabi, an Oktoberfest waitress for the past 13 years, told the paper that the “ever younger” crowd of visitors hardly ever ordered a traditional meal of half a roast chicken or roast pork and appeared to be solely interested in beer.

“I sold just 10 meals on the first day of the festival and last Tuesday I sold only three during a whole day of serving,” she said. “Local Oktoberfest visitors from Munich used to come here in the old days, but they don’t come any more,” she added.

Her verdict was borne out by Michael Möller, chief brewer at Hofbräuhaus, which runs the Oktoberfest tent most visited by foreigners. He confirmed that ever more young people were visiting and said they tended to hog the beer tables. “The young people are happy if they manage to grab a seat and then they stay put,” he said.

Critics have attributed the rise in the number of foreign tourists to new rules at the Oktoberfest, which have cut the number of tables that can be reserved to provide more space for casual visitors.

Too many tourists is not the event’s only problem. A survey conducted last year concluded that in four out of five cases the Oktoberfest’s beer tents were serving short measures to customers who pay almost €10 per litre mug of beer. This year the breweries and staff face sanctions if caught. Whether this year’s festival-goers can stay sober enough to notice being short-served is another matter.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?