Summer in Austria equals festival time! On any given weekend there’s usually something going on, be it a small, local event or a bigger, region-wide festival that completely takes over.
I have visited a number of town festivals over the last few years and although some of the bigger ones are a lot of fun, there’s nothing better than simply walking the 10 minutes to the Wolfsberg city centre when it’s our turn. Everyone in town turns out to crowd the streets, catch up with one another and party the night away. But no matter the size or the occasion, there’s definitely common elements to all.
Food is a huge part of a festival. The air literally smacks of BBQ – from the basic, differing varieties of sausage, all the way through to pork roast, portable schnitzel fryers and sticky ribs. Some of the bars and restaurants will have a special ‘menu’ on, while others will simply set up a BBQ and offer sausages with potato salad and a Semmel (bread roll). Occasionally something more exotic pops up such as souvlaki, baked potatoes or fried chicken and there’s usually Chimney Cake (a Hungarian bread covered in cinnamon and sugar) to be found for dessert.
What Austrian festival would be complete without copious amounts of beer, wine and cider? Mini stalls serving wide varieties of beverages pop up all over town for the duration of the event. If you’re not into beer, white wine spritzer is a good bet (yes, that’s half wine, half mineral water, and it’s great on hot days), or you can go for Sommer Spritzer, which is the same, but with even less wine, and a great option for drivers or really hot days when you need to maintain your hydration levels. Traditional Most (pure cider) is also usually available, although pure can be a little overwhelming – it’s advisable to take it in a large glass with either half mineral water, or in thirds with apple juice as well.
And on the same note you can’t have an Austrian festival without music. From the lone guy with his piano accordion, to the acapella singers in traditional dress, to roving musicians with clarinets and violins, you’ll see it all. Later in the evening, more ‘pop’ style bands tend to hit the stage to play the latest top 40 hits along with traditional Austrian classics with the young and old alike dancing in the streets.
And lastly, on the subject of dancing in the streets, it will happen – most probably later in the night, but there’s no problem with getting your dancing shoes on early. When you combine Austrians with drinking and music, they’re usually pretty keen to sing along and bust out some moves.