International squads of beer drinkers, leather-clad Bavarians and devotees of excess young and old have converged in Munich for the start of the planet's biggest beer festival, the Oktoberfest.

Over the next two weeks, beer drinkers are expected to guzzle more than six million litres of beer -- enough to fill around six Olympic size swimming pools -- and chomp through vast quantities of food during the world-famous orgy of consumption.

Dressed in leather shorts, or lederhosen, Munich mayor Christian Ude got the festival under way at noon to the cheers of an impatient crowd by cracking open the first 200 litre keg with the traditional shout "O'zapft is!" - the keg is tapped.

World's beer fans meet for Oktoberfest


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