Written by Staff Writer, CNN Frankfurt, Germany
A signature sight of Christmastime in Munich, Oktoberfest’s beer tents and bratwurst-eating contests. But Oktoberfest is leaving the festivities in Munich, or rather Germany, by the wayside, joining the throngs of those seeing the annual event’s glory days as a metaphor for the country’s “cohesion” and “resilience.”
Oktoberfest’s name was granted copyright back in 1837 by Hermann von Aschenbach, the head of the Bavarian royal court, according to Munich’s city guide
It has also been a crucial element in reunification in 1990, and, for an estimated nine million people in the Munich area, the site of epic party scenes.
From this year, Oktoberfest ’19 will be the last. Munich officials are moving ahead with plans to establish three new large-scale urban centers (Budweiserplatz, Porscheplatz and Audiplatz), all opening in 2022.
The shift to these other areas is backed by an approved new plan of development known as the Urban Single Innovation Landscape, designed to promote “a confident, lively and healthy city and area.”
Oktoberfest’s organizers claim they have to move out, due to the “security of public order,” lack of affordable real estate, “high real estate and construction prices” and a rise in numbers attending the festival (currently 40 million people).
Munich voted for change
Planning for the new areas is in its early stages, but it is likely the new expansion of the city’s urban areas will lead to growth in the Oktoberfest market.
Last year, Munich was forced to cancel its Oktoberfest celebrations due to heavy rains. This year, the venue will run for nearly three weeks, the first in a new “second “cycle.”
The event is known to have many ties to artists and celebrities, with the area around the beer tents buzzing with gossip from celebrities like filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.
But with the competition growing for the attention of tourists and younger locals, and with more and more people being priced out of the city, organizers claim Munich needs change.
“The overwhelming interest in the ‘grand old house’ that has been flooded by its authentic structure in Munich has put pressure on that structure,” the Oktoberfest website states.
“Appropriating the building as a theme park or theme park site has often been denounced, as the hotel market has grown to capacities extremely beyond the capacity of the city and the region. The municipal sales tax is regulated to protect every property and as a result the rental prices have risen in the neighborhood, making a return on investment extremely difficult for all buildings … to make.
The young Munich locals will be more interested in the new developments on the city’s outer periphery than in the spectacle of the city center. The new buildings will develop their own identity and will not stick so closely to the traditions of Oktoberfest, says the Oktoberfest site.
Asked about the battle with Munich’s older district and other commercial centers to attract tenants, Munich’s chief architect said: “We like to think that contemporary design in this new market will not only renew the essence of the district but of the city in general.”