Oktoberfest kicks off

Munich's traditional beer festival has kicked off under heavy security and with the price of a litre tankard at a record high.

City mayor Christian Ude tapped the first barrel on the stroke of noon and clinked glasses with the governor of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, to launch the 178th Oktoberfest.

Despite the economic climate, 6 million visitors are expected to attend the festival, downing 7 million litres of beer over three weeks.

Queues began forming early for the opening day, despite the price of €9.20 ($A12) per litre.

In recent times, Oktoberfest has been brought forward to September, when the weather is generally better.