Oktoberfest kicks off for the 184th round with heightened security

MUNICH, GERMANY (SEPTEMBER 16, 2017) (REUTERS) – The 184th annual edition of Oktoberfest started on Saturday (September 16), with a horse-and-carriage parade, carnival rides, oompah bands and beer-swigging revelry – as tradition dictates, of course.

With a cry of “It’s tapped!” Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter cracked the first keg and poured a round, the classic official opening of the world’s biggest beer festival.

Millions of visitors from around the world are expected to descend on the Bavarian capital over the next 18 days. Organisers are hoping for around seven million, which would be a much better turnout than the 5.6 million last year.

Rainy weather certainly didn’t stop the first eager attendees, with crowds turning up for entry well before the 1200 local (1000 GMT) opening.

Extra security measures were in place for the second year in a row, including entrance checks, a fence around the fairgrounds and ban on visitors bringing in bags and backpacks of more than a three-litre volume. Such precautions were taken for the first time in the festival’s history last year after security concerns arose from a series of violent attacks in southern Germany.

For 2017, police and organisers have also enhanced video surveillance and added a new PA system for making announcements.

But for Oktoberfest visitors, from born-and-bred Bavarians to tourists, it’s partying as usual.

The 184th edition of the Munich Oktoberfest ends on October 3.