For the first time since 1980, Canberra's Oktoberfest will be held at the Harmonie German Club in Narrabundah.
The festival's return to the clubhouse is bittersweet. Since 1981 the club has opted to hold Oktoberfest events at larger venues such as EPIC and the Queanbeyan Showgrounds. Last year over 7000 people donned their Dirndls and Lederhosens and descended on the Queanbeyan showgrounds to attend the club's event.
While organisers have received some exemptions to increase numbers at Oktoberfest, the event's attendance will be much lower than previous years.
Another hurdle the club faced leading into the festival was liquor licencing. Unlike NSW, ACT liquor licensing laws do not allow the club to serve more than 570mL of beer on premises, barring the club from serving beer in traditional 1L steins. However the club was notified on Tuesday that it was able to sell empty 1L steins as souvenirs.
For vice president Michael Fuller, in a year where dancing is not allowed, crowd capacity is smaller, Oktoberfest 2020 is all about thinking laterally.
"We're using other rooms around the club, the restaurant will be used [as will] the beer garden if the weather picks up a bit," he said.
The festival began with a VIP event on Monday night at the main hall of the club. Guest included diplomats and politicians such as ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury, and Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee, who were there as the club tapped the first keg of the festival.
While the event included music, food and beer, no dancing was allowed at the seated event.
"It's heartbreaking, but it's the law," Harmonie German Club president Kevin Bramboeck said addressing the audience on Monday.
To mark the festival the club has extended their menu. On Wednesday night the club will run an adult's only Bunter Abend event, complete with drag trivia and bingo. An Apres Ski party featuring European dance music is scheduled for Thursday night. A more traditional Oktoberfest event will run on Friday, and the club will run an outdoor German market on Sunday.
Canberra is one of the few cities in the world to run Oktoberfest events in 2020.
Munich, the city where the festival originates, cancelled the cultural festival this year as Germany was ravaged by the COVID-19. In Australia, the Brisbane Oktoberfest, traditionally the largest Oktoberfest in Australia was cancelled.
Melbourne and Sydney are not running any events, and the only other Oktoberfest to run in Australia was in Perth earlier this month.
"Unfortunately this wretched pandemic has hit every corner of the globe," Mr Bramboeck said.
"If you come to Oktoberfest this year you will be one of the very few people in the world that will experience Oktoberfest in 2020," Harmonie German Club general manager Paul Berger said.
Angelika Fuller, a member of the club's board of directors described the ability to run or attend an Oktoberfest event in 2020 as a privilege.
"The cases are going up around the world ... we are very fortunate that we have a glimpse of normality."