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5 spectacular traditional festivals in Austria

© by Ferienregion Salzburger Lungau

Heritage, traditions, and folklore is highly valued in Austria. Throughout the year different traditional festivals take place all over Austria.

A study by IMAS showed that 9 out of 10 Austrians think protecting and keeping Austrian traditions alive is vital. Many traditions are connected to the catholic church, others are part of rural folklore, and some celebrate the end of harvest time. Nonetheless, most of these festivities are lively, colourful, and folksy, with a high party factor. After the processions or main events, people usually gather for food and drink. Moreover, most traditional festivals are public and free to attend.

Almabtrieb

The Almabtrieb is a vibrant Austrian tradition marking the end of summer, where cattle adorned with flowers and ribbons are paraded down from the Alpine pastures into the valleys. There are still about 11.000 alpine pastures in Austria. After spending the summer grazing on alpine pastures, the cattle return to their farms in colourful processions. The so-called “almabtrieb” is a popular event from the end of August until the end of September. It symbolizes the safe return of the herds and is often accompanied by local fairs and markets, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Austria’s rural communities. This festive event is celebrated with music, dance, and regional delicacies, drawing locals and tourists to witness the colourful spectacle.

For more info, check out the websites of the regional tourist offices.

< Click on the images to enlarge >

Krampus

The Krampus tradition in Austria is a captivating blend of folklore and festivity, where the ominous figure of Krampus roams the streets during early December. Krampus is the creepy companion of Santa Claus (St Nicholas’ in German). The Krampus is half-goat, half-demon, whose job is to punish and scare any misbehaving folk, while the well-behaved receive their treats from Santa Claus. In early December, the Krampus (Perchten) parades loudly through towns and villages. It is customary to offer the Krampus a schnapps (a strong distilled fruit brandy).

For more info, check out the websites of the regional tourist offices.

Summer solstice – Sonnenwende

Midsummer is also a vital highlight in Austria. The year’s longest day is celebrated in different ways throughout the country. Summer solstice in the Wachau region in Lower Austria is a magnificent display of artfully shaped bond fires and splendid fireworks. Furthermore, the lovely romantic Danube Valley, with its vineyards, provides a brilliant backdrop. River cruise ships gather at spots on the Danube where the passengers can watch the spectacle. You can also enjoy the spectacle on land, as they occur on both sides of the river. Sonnenwende in Wachau is one of the most famous traditional festivals in Austria. Hence, you should get your boat tickets and book accommodation as soon as possible, as the spaces fill quickly.

For more info: https://www.donau.com/en/sonnenwende/

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Samson parades

During the summer months (June to August), you can enjoy the magnificent spectacle of a “Samsonumzug” in the Lungau region in Salzburgerland and some neighbouring villages in Styria. The Samsons are 5-7 meter tall figures paraded through villages. Written sources report about Samson parades in Lungau from about 1690. They symbolise strength and community spirit and are recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage practice. Accompanying the colourful Samsons are marching bands and civil guards in historic uniforms.

For more info, check out the websites of the regional tourist offices.

Daffodil Festival – Narzissenfest

The Narzissenfest (Daffodil Festival) is a flower festival in Ausseerland, Styria held every spring since 1959. In the Salzkammergut in Austria, the daffodil has a white flower and grows on the meadows in the region.  The festival is a joyous occasion involving the entire community, from gathering flowers to the festive procession, embodying the spirit of spring and regional tradition. Hundreds of thousands of these daffodils are collected by hand and put together in fantastic figures on floats. All the floats are then paraded on Lake Altausseersee. The locals dress up in lovely local traditional costumes.

For more info, see: https://www.narzissenfest.at/en/

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Written by Ana Lucia Marcos

Ana Lucia has traveled the world, but fell completely in love with Austria. She loves the dramatic mountain landscape, the phototastiske lakes and the captivating castles. Moreover, a real Wienerschnitzel is always on the menu when she explores the alpine country.