Austria is famous for its lively festivals: from Funken, where locals light a giant bonfire and burn an effigy to scare away winter, to the Krampus parades, where devil-like creatures beat innocent bystanders with sticks, there is hardly a dull moment in this vibrant European country.
Here are six festivals in Austria that you should go to this year:
1. Steiermark Frühling Fest (Styrian Spring Festival)
When and where: April in Vienna
Lederhosen, dirndls, accordions and wine: what more could you ask from a festival celebrating one of Austria’s most picturesque states? Every spring the square in front of Vienna’s city hall hosts a Styrian village where visitors can sample famous delicacies like pumpkin oil and pumpkin-seed schnitzel. Vendors also offer a variety of the region’s world renowned wines. Grab a glass of Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and dance along to the traditional music. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival)
When and Where: May-June in Vienna
A home to some of the greatest theaters, music halls, and museums on the European continent, it is little surprise that Vienna hosts so many festivals celebrating the arts. Established in 1951, the Wiener Festwochen was Austria’s global declaration that despite a devastating war, they could rise again as a cultural capital of the world. Today’s festival annually welcomes an international audience and seeks to push the limits of art and enlightenment. The contemporary productions represent a range of mediums including drama, opera, and dance.
3. Donauinselfest (Danube Island Festival)
When and where: June in Vienna
The Danube Island Festival is Europe’s biggest open air event. Each year several million visitors flood Vienna for a three day party which includes food, sports, and top music acts. Past lineups have included Bonnie Tyler, Macy Gray, The Commodores, and Eurovision winner, Conchita Wurst. The best part of all: entrance is free!
4. Wiener Film Festival (Vienna Film Festival)
When and where: June-September in Vienna
In the late summer, Vienna’s city hall welcomes yet another famous event: the Vienna Film Festival. Each evening, recordings of famous operas, ballets and musical performances are projected on a 300 square-meter screen. Food vendors sell international cuisine from some of Vienna’s best restaurants. The global gastronomy includes everything from Greek, to Indian, to Japanese dishes.
5. Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival)
When and where: mid July to mid August in Bregenz
For four weeks in the summer, the Austrian town of Bregenz is transformed into a world famous outdoor opera house. The festival, founded in 1946, boasts a 7000 seat stage which floats on the waters of Lake Constance. Performances range from famous operas to musicals. In the past these have included Aida, The Magic Flute, and even West Side Story. The lavish productions often use the surrounding lake as an extension of the stage. The floating stage is so famous that scenes from the 2008 James Bond film, Quantum of Solace were filmed here during a performance of Tosca.
6. Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg Festival)
When and where: mid July to mid August in Salzburg
The Salzburg Festival is a music and drama festival which takes place in the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The festival often features music from its most famous composer – the 2015 season will include Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. However in terms of popular culture, the Von Trapp family singers are arguably one of the most famous groups to have performed during the festival’s almost 100 year history. The family won first place at the event’s folk singing competition in 1936. This real life event was later depicted in the 1965 film, The Sound of Music.
Austria hosts hundreds of festivals every year. Which one do you recommend?