So, Easter, the time of frolicking lambs and, wait…no lambs in Austria. Or very few – different country, different traditions.
In fact, it’s the rabbit that rules here. As you’ll notice if you enter any store.
Vienna is a popular destination for an Easter break: visitors swap places with the Viennese, who often head to the hills for a final ski before the spring sun melts the snow.
So what is Easter in the capital all about?
The Easter markets are the main attraction. Think of them as high-quality arts and crafts markets, plus eggs and a sprinkling of local cuisine. As well as an enjoyable experience in their own right, they also make a great source of unique souvenirs and gifts.
Tip: If you only have time for one market, then visit the Schönbrunn one.
Specific Easter events include:
- The Osterklang festival, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016. It covers a week or so before Easter and usually features a mix of opera and music at some of Vienna’s top classical venues.
- The Vienna Blues Spring music festival, which pulls together blues musicians from around the world in late March and through April.
- The Prater Easter holidays festival, which takes place over the school break in the Prater area (home to the giant ferris wheel, a theme park, the planetarium, restaurants, an extensive park area and much more). It’s meant mainly for children.
Two words – eggs and rabbits.
You paint, colour, decorate or eat the former, and it’s the Easter rabbit who brings the things in the first place. Technically, it’s the Easter hare, since the German word is Osterhase (Ostern = Easter and Hase = hare).
Listen closely on the morning of Easter Sunday and you’ll also hear the sound of a million hard-boiled eggs cracking in gladiatorial combat. Learn more about this and other Austrian Easter traditions here.
There isn’t any.
At least, it’s nothing like Christmas, with its wide range of seasonal specialties.
There is plenty of rabbit- and egg-themed chocolate and candy. And I will openly admit to a desperate love for Lindt’s Goldhase – chocolate rabbits in a gold livery, with a red ribbon and little bell (it’s OK, I’m seeking treatment).
There’s also the Osterpinze – a relative of the Striezel – which is a soft breadlike pastry made from yeast dough. And Osterschinken (Easter ham), which as far as I can tell is basically various varieties of normal ham with the word Easter added to the front.
Unlike at Christmas, the Easter period is still relatively low key.
Store opening hours are normal, except on Easter Monday which is a public holiday. The same principle applies to public transport – a Sunday service operates on the public holiday, but otherwise timetables are unchanged.