Events & Festivals in Carinthia (Kärnten)
Rural Carinthia is big in tourism, and so it won′t surprise you that much of the seemingly authentic folk culture is actually tacky folklore. Nevertheless, tacky events are often popular with locals, too - and for those who are interested in "thorough" culture, the "Carinthische Sommer" will cater.
Beyond that, Friesach has a well-known festival of Medieval culture, which fits well into the ancient core of the town. Many of the tourism communities organise festivals or events to entertain visitors from abroad - for example nostalgic car races in the Nockberge area, held by the tourism association of Bad Kleinkirchheim.
A traditional custom typical for a specific area in Carinthia can be seen on the first of February in Eisenkappel: Children from this ancient mining town build little paper churches that serve as lanterns, illuminated with candles in the inside. They carry the churches around and then put them on the River Vellach, where they float away and set the neighbouring village - Eisenkappel′s nemesis - on fire. The tradition is called "Kirchleintragen" and worth seeing.
On the 5th of February, the "Striezelwerfen" attracts the crowds, when in the Jauntal Valley parades are held. Here, thousands of tiny bread rolls (the "Striezel") are thrown at the cheering crowds as talismans.
The carnival time - especially the week before Ash Wednesday - is pretty big in Carinthia. There are parades, congregations and parties everywhere. Particularly famous for its merry men is Villach in the very south of Carinthia.
April / May
In Tressdorf, there are passion plays done with local farmers and actors. These passion plays are performed in a pantomime (in the non-British sense of the word, with nothing behind anyone - simply no speaking).
The so-called "Laubhüttenfest" (which confusingly is also the German name for the Jewish Feast of Booths) is a miner′s tradition held once every three years; a highlight in the folk culture calendar of Carinthia. Held recently in 2007, then 2010, 2013 and so on.
From mid-June to the end of August, Friesach has altering theatre productions in the arcades of the former Dominican monastery.
In July and August, the "Carinthischer Sommer" (Carinthian Summer) is held in Ossiach by Lake Ossiachersee. It is a music festival mostly with classical music. A pretty big deal for a small province like Carinthia.
July and August are generally good months for the various tourism-friendly events - be it the old-timer car rally in the Nockberge region, the music performances in Burg Finkenstein, the equivalent theatre productions of Schloss Porcia in Spittal or the many sport and "fun" events spread across the province.
On the 15th of August (Ascension), there is a procession with boats on Lake Wörthersee, starting from the picturesque peninsula of Maria Wörth.
August and September are also the season for fairs and agricultural conventions in Carinthia - most importantly in Klagenfurt, Bleiburg and St. Veit an der Glan.
In autumn and winter, you get the usual blend of harvest celebrations, advent rituals and Christmas markets - some with regional flavour, others without. Most historic towns have nice, traditional Christmas markets starting in very late November.
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Festivals & Events elsewhere in Austria
Ministery for Education, Culture and Science (includes folk culture)
Austrian Tourism Council for current events