Altaussee: Daffodil Festival & Local Customs
The small town of Altaussee is a community in the Styrian part of the Salzkammergut. Despite of its rather limited population of less than 2,000, Altaussee is well-known in Austria for its actively traditional culture, which is expressed in events such as the Narzissenfest or "Daffodil Festival".
English-speaking visitors might be thrilled to learn that there is a local mountain called "Loser", although this is nothing compared to the village of Fucking…the Loser is actually among the main attractions of the town, since there is a Panoramic road leading to its summit, the so-called "Salzkammergut Panoramastraße".
Altaussee is - not surprisingly - situated by the Lake Altausseer See and a popular spa town. Like most Salzkammergut towns, it was shaped by the salt mining that developed here since the Middle Ages. The first written record of Altaussee dates back to 1147, when salt mining was mentioned. However, archaeological findings provide evidence that in fact even the Romans had lived within today′s city limits, presumably for the sake of salt. Over-all, the history of Altaussee is rather uneventful, though.
Traditions & Customs of Altaussee
Apart from the usual trouble of various peasant wars, the reformation and Napoleonic Wars, Altaussee only "awoke" in the 19th century with the rise of tourism. At this time, wealthy aristocrats - usually from Vienna - flocked into the Salzkammergut for "Sommerfrische" vacations. During WWII, the Nazis discovered the Salzkammergut and its Alpine remoteness as the perfect hideout.
Not only did they build labour camps in nearby Ebensee to work on their missile program, they also transferred some of the most important things they had to this area - including a great deal of stolen artwork, of which many paintings ended in Altaussee. Nazi-butcher Ernst Kaltenbrunner (who was - like myself - born in Ried) spent his vacations in Altaussee.
The Narzissenfest or Daffodil Festival attracts thousands of people every year: The four day festival involves a "Daffodil Queen", a parade with large theme carriages covered in daffodils and other flowers, and a procession in boats, either on Lake Altausseer See or nearby Lake Grundlsee (in alternating years). This is a great opportunity to see many people in the local Aussee Tracht or traditional costumes: Dirndl and Lederhosen
Beer in a Tent in Altaussee...
If this was not enough local culture for you, try the "Altausseer Bierzelt". A Bierzelt or "beer tent" is a get-together with grilled chicken and beer as well as more beer, usually for the sake of getting drunk, laid and raising money for the local fire brigade. For some reason, the one of Altaussee is particularly famous and sells its own brew of beer (600 barrels just for the occasion) as well as some 10,000 grilled chicken (in words: ten thousand) as well as hundreds of grilled fish.
The writer Barbara Frischmuth and the actor Klaus Maria Brandauer were born or live in Altaussee. In terms of activities, all sorts of water sports are popular here, as well as hiking, fishing and hunting. Nearby attractions include Bad Aussee, Hallstatt and the Dachstein region with its impressive caves. Gosau, Bad Ischl and St Wolfgang are within reach, too.