Saturday, 12 o'clock - high noon in the "Schottenhamel" beer tent: By tapping the first barrel of beer, Christian Ude started the 180th Oktoberfest.

octoberfestWith the experience of almost two decades in office, Christian Ude, Mayor of Munich, has started the Oktoberfest by tapping the first barrel of beer in the Schottenhamel tent.

With two strikes, Ude drove the tap into the barrel and spoke the magic words: "O'zapft is!" - "It's tapped!"

The first mug of beer was then handed to the Bavarian Prime Minister, Horst Seehofer.

Next year, somebody else will serve the beer to Horst Seehofer: Christian Ude is in his last year as Mayor of Munich and won't be able to run for office again, as he has reached the maximum number of terms.

As in all the years bevor, Christian Ude ended the opening ceremony by wishing everybody a peaceful Oktoberfest.

Some 6million visitors are expected by the time the festival ends on October 6. Last year, 6.9 million litres of beer were quaffed at the Oktoberfest.

That's 14.6 million pints to us in the English-speaking world. But of course since at Oktoberfest beer is sold by the pint it makes more sense to think about it in metric.

The average litre-holding stein will cost 3.6 per cent more than it did last year, at an eye-watering €9.66 (£8.15) a pop. The cheapest beer on offer is still ringing in at a princely €9.40 (£7.94).