Germany’s Oktoberfest sees 3.6m visitors

BERLIN (AP) - This year’s Oktoberfest folk festival has already attracted an estimated 3.6 million visitors, the city of Munich said Sunday.

Officials are expecting a total of about 6 million visitors to celebrate the 16-day extravaganza, now half over, but the beer festival’s start indicates the final number might well be higher.

The Oktoberfest is best known for its bands of oompah music playing in cavernous tents, local men wearing traditional Bavarian Lederhosen leather shorts and women in bright costumes.

This year’s visitors have consumed 3.6 million two-pint (one-liter) mugs of beer so far. A mug, called “mass” in German, of the malty pale beer sells for up to (EURO)9.50 ($12.30).

Last year’s 6.9 million visitors downed almost 8 million mugs.

While the Oktoberfest’s main draw is the towering mugs of beer, many visitors, especially families, often flock to the Oktoberfest for its fairground attractions such as roller coasters.

Visitors at this year’s Oktoberfest, the 179th, mostly came from Germany, neighboring countries, Italy, the U.S., Asia, New Zealand and Australia so far, the city said.

The lost-and-found office said it already counts more than 300 wallets, 200 cellphones, 50 cameras and two wedding rings on its shelves.

Security guards hindered visitors from stealing beer mugs _ a popular souvenir for tourists _ in 63,000 cases, the city said.

The fairgrounds are spread over about 75 acres (30 hectares) and can accommodate hundreds of thousands of people at a time.

German authorities keep security tight, while saying at the same time that no risks are expected.

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