GERMANY OKTOBERFEST 2016.jpg
Early visitors arrive to be checked by security personnel at the main entrance on the opening day of the 183rd edition of the traditional 'Oktoberfest' beer and amusement festival in the German Bavaria state's capital Munich, 17 September 2016 morning.
Photograph: EPA/ANDREAS GEBERT

Oktoberfest opened in Munich on Saturday under heightened security, with backpacks banned and a fence erected around the beer festival's grounds to ensure that all visitors are screened.

The new controls come as Germany remains on high alert since two Islamic State-claimed attacks in July, although Munich's police chief says authorities know of no specific threat against the event.

The security checks and rainy weather didn't dampen the crowd's spirits, with visitors dressed in traditional Bavarian clothes queueing long before the first beer tents opened at 9 am (0700 GMT).

The two-week festival that is expected to attract 6 million people officially kicked off when Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter tapped the first keg of beer at 12 pm.

"Ozapft is!" exclaimed Dieter, the traditional Bavarian exhortation to begin the celebrations. The phrase loosely translates to "it's tapped."

This year's Oktoberfest is the 183rd since it began in 1810 as a horse race held on the occasion of a Bavarian royal wedding. There have been some lapses due to war and cholera epidemics.

Some 450 security personnel will be deployed during peak hours to conduct checks on the incoming revelers.

The backpack ban includes all bags that can carry more than 3 litres of liquid. The new fence is mobile, with its nine separate units able to be dismantled within 50 seconds so that visitors can flee in emergency situations.

On July 24, a Syrian suicide bomber detonated an explosive device that he had been carrying in his rucksack outside a music festival venue in the Bavarian town of Ansbach, injuring more than a dozen. A week earlier several people were seriously injured in a knife attack on train near the city of Wuerzburg, also in Bavaria.

Latest news

Trump-style rhetoric is making world more dangerous, Amnesty says

Divisive and "poisonous" language used by politicians such as US President Donald Trump is putting vulnerable populations at risk and making the whole world a more dangerous place, Amnesty International charged on Wednesday.

Canada soon to begin resettling Iraqi refugees, most of them Yezidis

Canada will resettle 1,200 survivors of the Islamic State campaign to target religious minorities in northern Iraq, Canadian officials announced Tuesday. 

Breitbart editor resigns after release of paedophilia comments

Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial editor at the far-right Breitbart news website, resigned Tuesday after the emergence of recordings in which he appears to defend sexual relationships between young boys and older men.

Trump administration opens door for mass deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security laid the groundwork Tuesday for mass deportations of immigrants living illegally in the United States under an executive order by President Donald Trump last month.

Brexit bill: House of Lords says public can change mind on leaving EU

The British public should be able to change their minds on Brexit - just as Prime Minister Theresa May did, the upper chamber of parliament heard Tuesday during a marathon debate on legislation to kick off EU negotiations.

Italian lawmakers, rights activists clash over gay sex club scandal

Gay rights activists and conservative politicians clashed Tuesday after the chief of Italy's anti-discrimination office quit over allegations that money had been authorized for gay sex clubs.

EU countries agree new rules to avoid tax evasion

European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday reached a political agreement on new rules to ensure that multinational corporations do not declare profits in the countries where they pay the least tax but in the countries where they generate it.

Trump condemns "horrible, painful" anti-Jewish incidents

US President Donald Trump condemned a recent spate of threats against Jewish community targets across the United States, during a visit Tuesday to the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

FinMin expects Croatia to exit Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Tuesday Croatia could exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring and that it was showing progress in correcting macroeconomic imbalances.

Austria seeks to create jobs, but new EU immigrants need not apply

Austria plans to create 160,000 jobs in the next three years by subsidizing companies, but the project has raised concerns because it effectively excludes people who recently immigrated from other EU countries.

Juncker: Not good for W. Balkans that some in Washington want to water down EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday it was not good for Western Balkan countries that some people in the new US administration gave the impression of being against the European Union because those countries needed the prospects of EU membership.

Citizens invited to help create Croatian version of Monopoly

A project to create a Croatian edition of Monopoly, in which citizens can participate by submitting proposals and which could become a souvenir for tourists, was presented at a press conference on Tuesday.

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok named Asia's best for third year

Bangkok's Indian eatery Gaggan on Tuesday was named the best restaurant in Asia for the third consecutive year by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

HGK: 16 Croatian companies to exhibit at IDEX defence exhibition

Sixteen Croatian companies will exhibit their products at the 13th IDEX 2017 defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to be held on February 19-23.