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Oktoberfest a No-show in 2020

Pandemic mutes Munich’s traditional celebration of beer and gemütlichkeit

With the Oktoberfest canceled this year due to COVID-19, the six traditional breweries that serve their beer at Oktoberfest, led by Paulaner Brewery, gathered last Saturday, Sept. 19 (the day Oktoberfest 2020 was set to begin), along with stallholders, representatives from the city, the costumed Münchner Kindl and the Association of Munich Brewers to send their best wishes to Oktoberfest fans everywhere.

There was a sense of sadness among those present who would typically be hosting the celebration popularly known as the Wiesn. Beer tables and benches arranged into the shape of a heart surrounded the breweries’ carts. Each brewery tapped a barrel and raised a glass at a safe distance, creating an image that served as a greeting to all those unable to come to Munich this year to take part in the celebrations.

The event is usually held on the Theresienwiese, a 100-plus acre “meadow” in Munich where the wedding of Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and Crown Prince Ludwig I took place in 1810. Since then, the Oktoberfest has been celebrated there every year – except during the world wars, and, well, this year – to commemorate this event.

The initiative came about in collaboration with the fashion retailer Hirmer and the traditional costume supplier Amsel during a brainstorming session aimed at working out how to convey an image of the canceled Oktoberfest event, originally scheduled for Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, 2020.

“We want to use this event to create an enduring image by which to remember the cancelled Oktoberfest,” emphasized Andreas Steinfatt, managing director of the Paulaner Brewery and chairman of the Association of Munich Brewers. “Away from the Theresienwiese, socially distanced, with no celebrations, but an image that nonetheless shows how emotional this special time of the year is for us and how much we miss ‘our Wiesn’.”

(But mark your calendars: Next year’s dates are Sept. 18 to Oct. 3, 2021.)