Spirits high at Oktoberfest despite troubles


Record alcohol consumption, mounting violence and high beer prices have failed to mar the annual Munich Oktoberfest, which reached half-time yesterday with its backers claiming that the drinking event was set for its most successful year.

The Bavarian Red Cross said yesterday that the number of so-called "beer corpses" – drinkers incapacitated from over-consumption – had gone up by 20 per cent compared with the same period last year. Police said there had also been a marked increase in drink-related violence.

The two-week-long festival got off to an inauspicious start when a group called the Association Against Fraudulent Pouring complained that beer prices had risen sharply, with the average price for a litre at €9.35 compared with €6.55 in 2002. Despite this, organisers said this year's festival had already attracted a record half-time figure of 3.6 million.