Austria has a culture steeped in tradition, and throughout the country all through the year are festivals that pay homage to saints, composers, literary greats, and festivals just for an excuse to get together for good music, wine, food and fun. We have listed some of the most popular festivals that can be found throughout Austria. Even the local festivals in small villages can be quite fun. Try to incorporate them into your tour!
* 3-day Musicfest and foodfest (dates to be confirmed)
* International Sculpture Day (date to be confirmed)
* Salzburg Music Festival 23 July - 31 August 2007
* Cheese Festival - 19 May, 2007
Styriarte: June 22 - July 2, 2007 http://www.styriarte.com/index_en.php
Annualy June/July in Graz
stryriarte - the Styrian Festival:
Every year since 1985, when the styriarte was founded, musicians from all over the world have flocked to Graz to participate in old-fashioned music-making with the much-admired genius loci, Nikolaus Harnoncourt. And despite his ever-increasing renown as one of the top-flight conductors, Harnoncourt puts much time and energy into “his” festival. This year, for instance, he managed to persuade one of the prominent directors of German-language theater, Andrea Breth, to direct a scenic performance of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen”; Harnoncourt will conduct the Chamber Orchestra of Europe; a number of well-established as well as up-and-coming opera singers will perform this romantic opera. Among the performers assembling in Graz to celebrate the spirit of musical togetherness are such great artists as violinist Christian Altenburger, baritone Florian Boesch, soprano Ildiko Raimondi, viola da gamba player Jordi Savall, Musica Antiqua Köln, the Concentus Musicus Vienna, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Annually, July 19 to August 19, 2007
Following the great success of La Bohème in 2001 and 2002, another masterpiece by the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, Tosca, awaits visitors to the festival in 2007 and 2008 on the Floating Stage. Puccini’s famous opera has deservedly become a classic of the stage. Tosca is fascinating for its highly dramatic story of passionate love and heinous betrayal centring on three main characters. The opera makes huge demands of its performers in terms of both singing and acting ability.
The revolutionary struggle against absolutism provides the historical background of the plot, in which three strong characters clash: the celebrated singer Floria Tosca, the successful painter Mario Cavaradossi, and the chief of police Scarpia. All of the characters are committed to their own cause - be it art, love or politics - to the point of ruthlessness. It is inevitable that the drama will end in death: in murder, execution and suicide. The tragedy is set in motion by jealousy, an emotion which in Puccini’s opera is deployed as a political weapon and thus unleashes its destructive energy even more mercilessly.
The opera will be directed by Philipp Himmelmann and the stage will be designed by Johannes Leiacker. The conductor’s rostrum will be occupied by Ulf Schirmer, an old hand at the festival for whom Tosca will be the fifth Floating Stage production after The Flying Dutchman, Nabucco, Fidelio and La Bohème. The premiere is on 19 July 2007.
Death in Venice, the last opera of the British composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), will be the Festival Opera House production of summer 2007, premiering on 18 July 2007. A co-production with the Aldeburgh Festival in England, the opera is to be directed by the Japanese director and actor Yoshi Oida.
Austrian Harvest Festival
In Austria - Saint Leopold's feast day marks the start of the heurigen, the new wine season.
People celebrate the day with outdoor wine tastings and wine picnics, often accompanied by live music. This is the day for the pilgrimage to Klosterneuberg Abbey, home of the eminent wine called Leopolsberg which the vintner monks have been making for centuries.
Leopold's Day custom called Fasselrutschen, "sliding down the cask", involves an enormous 12,000 gallon wooden barrel, commissioned by the abbot for Klosterneuberg's wine cellar in 1704. One by one people climb to the top of the cask and slide down its smooth wooden side for good luck. The rougher the side the better the luck it is said. Its reputation is as a "great leveler". Hundreds of people line up for a turn all from different classes and types.
* Christkindlmaerkte (Christmas Markets) 2007.
Generally from 12 Nov until 24 Dec.
* Fasching 2007
Advent in Austria
The weeks from late November to the end of the year hold a very special meaning in Austria. Visit Austria's christmas markets and enjoy the spirit of christmas...
Austria is a fascinating country to visit at any time of the year. But the weeks from late November to the end of the year hold a special meaning and let you become familiar with some of the most beautiful aspects of the country: deep-rooted folk traditions come alive in colorful, romantic events.
Advent, the period of preparation for the festival honoring the birth of Christ, begins on a Sunday four weeks before Christmas Eve. This is the day when in living rooms all over the country advent wreaths, woven from evergreen twigs and decorated with ribbons and four candles, are hung or prominently placed. On each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, one more candle on the wreath is lit at dinnertime, many families pray, read Christmas stories or sing carols together.
Christmas markets are a long-standing and typically Austrian tradition. In Vienna, for instance, the market is held in the large square in front of City Hall. This market can be traced in old documents back to the year 1298. Innsbruck opens its romantic Christmas market in the narrow medieval square at the foot of the Golden Roof. In Salzburg, the Christmas market takes over the square in front of the Cathedral with its picturesque stalls, while the tree vendors occupy Residenzplatz on the side of the huge Cathedral. Howeer almost every small town has its own Christmas market.
The Christmas tree comes to Austrian homes only on Christmas Eve, December 24. While the children are out, parents set up the tree, decorate it and then lock the room. After dusk, the ringing of a bell announces that the Christkindl has just flown by and instructed the helping angels to leave the presents for the little ones. The door opens, the room is bathed in the warm, flickering light of the candles, everyone sings a verse or two of Silent Night, and the cheerful giving and unwrapping begins.