The festival, which attracts millions of visitors, takes place in Munich, the Bavarian capital. Credit: Oktoberfest/Contiki.

It’s a 210-year-old festival which attracts around 6 million visitors a year, a major event in the German calendar — but it won’t go this year.

Bavaria’s leaders have cancelled Oktoberfest, the world’s biggest beer festival, due to fears that it could become a breeding ground for the coronavirus, The Guardian reported.

Markus Söder, the premier of Bavaria, which has been one of the regions worst hit by the pandemic in Europe, said the Oktoberfest posed too big a public health risk, the report said.

He had hinted over several weeks that it was “on the rocks” and was unlikely to take place.

“Living with coronavirus means living carefully,” Söder said. “As long as there is no vaccination, we need to be very sensible. We are in mutual agreement that the risk is quite simply too high … compromises will not help.”

The festival takes place in Munich, the Bavarian capital. Its mayor, Dieter Reiter, called the decision a “bitter pill,” the report said.

He said that for businesses that take part in the festival it was a heavy financial blow, and in their interests it had been decided not to prolong announcing the move. “But one can simply not take a decision other than this,” he said.

The risk of festival goers, who sit packed closely together in large beer tents, infecting each other was high, Reiter said.

“This is an emotional and economically difficult moment,” he said. Revenue from the Oktoberfest last year amounted to around €1 billion (£870 million), the report said.

Some areas in Germany have started to relax lockdown measures introduced last month to slow the spread of coronavirus, but big events are banned until 31 August.

On Monday, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, urged Germans to be disciplined to avoid a relapse after some improvement in the virus numbers.