Yes, arts, handicrafts and music play a role, too, but most visitors are there for the grub (or maybe it’s just me). Which brings me to the Waldviertelpur 3-day festival, hosted in the city at the end of August on the Heldenplatz in the center*.
The festival combines a large number of open-air booths with a programme of events, all in celebration of the region’s touristic and gastronomic wonders. You can get some impressions from the official site (though all info was in German last I checked) and the slideshow below:
The Waldviertel is to the north and west of Vienna, about an hour’s drive away in the province of Lower Austria. It has a certain mystical quality to it, encouraged by harsh winters, moors, forests and distinctive boulder formations. A place you could easily imagine has the odd ghostly hound wandering mournfully around the landscape.
It’s also a popular weekend retreat for the Viennese. And like anywhere in Austria, home to a host of delightful regional drinks, dishes and destinations.
What’s at Waldviertelpur?
The booths are a healthy (or not, depending on how much – and what – you eat and drink there) mix of bakeries, breweries, butchers and food buffets, distilleries and vineyards, tourist attractions, fashion outlets, plus arts and crafts.
The region is famous for its poppy seeds (German: Mohn), so if you want to try something truly local, go for a poppy seed treat. They come in all sorts of forms, but mostly in baked products like the organic Mohnzelten pictured.
Another popular option is Mohnnudeln: thick noodles made from potato dough and covered in a poppy seed sauce. So it looks like the plate is being savaged by a blackfly invasion (I’m sure it tastes better than my description).
The accompanying programme focuses on local music, from folk to rock, but you might also catch, for example, a fashion show featuring Waldviertel Trachten (the traditional clothing you’ll be familiar with from films like the Sound of Music).
The event serves as a showcase for the best of the Waldviertel, which is reflected in the quality of fare at the booths. If you’re sightseeing around the Hofburg or Ring, it’s a nice place to stop in for a snack (or lunch). It also offers a pleasing contrast to pounding city pavements, so you can take a short break from historical tours and dark coffee houses. Mind you, I was there on a Wednesday afternoon and it was packed.
*In 2016, building work on Heldenplatz meant the event moved temporarily to May and the Rathausplatz.