So, Easter, the time of frolicking lambs and, wait…there are no lambs in Vienna (or Austria). Or very few – different country, different traditions.
In fact, it’s the rabbits that rule the Easter menagerie – as you’ll notice if you enter any supermarket in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
Read on for details of Easter markets and events in Vienna, as well as tips on seasonal travel, weather, food, and traditions.
Consider all the information general in nature and applicable largely to 2022 and beyond. COVID-related restrictions mean many, if not all, traditional Easter events may be impossible in 2021.
Just for the record…
- Maundy Thursday: April 1st
- Good Friday: April 2nd
- Easter Saturday: April 3rd
- Easter Sunday: April 4th
- Easter Monday: April 5th (the only public holiday in Austria over Easter)
The official Easter school holidays in Vienna run from March 27th to April 5th; all kids aged 14 or less travel free on the transport authority’s subways, trams, and buses during this Easter break.
(Easter market on the Freyung)
In normal times, Vienna is a popular destination for an Easter trip: visitors swap places with the Viennese, who often head to the Alps for a final ski before the spring sun melts all the snow.
The Easter markets head up the list of seasonal attractions. Think of them as high-quality arts and crafts markets with a truck-load of eggs and several high-calorie pinches of local cuisine.
As well as an enjoyable experience in their own right, the markets also make a decent source of unique souvenirs and gifts. The top locations are:
- Schönbrunn: in front of the Habsburg summer palace
- Am Hof: very close to the city centre
- Freyung: includes an organic farmer’s market
The Easter market in Palais Niederösterreich is rather special, but only runs for two days.
They had to cancel the 2020 markets, unfortunately, and the fate of the 2021 markets remains uncertain. At the time of writing, such events are banned through March and may stay banned through Easter, too, with at least one market already cancelled.
(The Konzerthaus classical music venue)
Specific events possibly during the Easter period include the Vienna Blues Spring music festival, which pulls together blues musicians from around the world and usually runs from late March and through April. Otherwise, I’d point you at the general concert and events pages and the specific activity suggestions for March and April.
The event world lives with a significant degree of uncertainty right now, so I’m not sure how many organisers will (or can) plough ahead with their usual Easter plans in 2021, even if allowed.
If the museums remain open at Easter 2021, then numerous exhibitions should help keep you entertained. For example, consider the wonderful Aztecs exhibition at the Weltmuseum Wien. For a bit of colour in a drab year, try the Sheila Hicks exhibition at the MAK. And a Daniel Spoerri retrospective begins on March 24th, 2021, at the Kunstforum Wien.
(An Osterbaum or “Easter tree”)
As far as Easter traditions go, you only need to know two words: eggs and rabbits.
You paint, colour, decorate, hang up, or eat the eggs, and the Easter rabbit brings the things in the first place. (Given my understanding of reproductive biology, I’m going to assume the rabbit doesn’t actually lay the eggs.)
Oh, and technically it’s the Easter *hare*. The German word for the animal is Osterhase, which derives from Ostern (Easter) and Hase (hare).
Learn more about Austrian Easter traditions here. In particular, discover why you hear the sound of a million hard-boiled eggs cracking in gladiatorial combat on the morning of Easter Sunday.
(Easter chocolate, including some imports from the UK)
There isn’t any. If you ignore the increase in the number of eggs appearing at mealtimes.
At least, the seasonal cuisine is nothing like Christmas, with its wide range of advent specialties.
(Supermarkets being supermarkets, I daresay you’ll find a few Christmas delights morphing into Easter shapes.)
Apart from the chocolates and sweets, we have the Osterpinze, which is a soft sweet pastry made from yeast dough. And Osterschinken (Easter ham), which seems basically to be various varieties of normal ham with the word Easter added to the front. (But I might be wrong.)
This is a difficult one to call. March and April in Vienna can see
The Easter period is still relatively low key
The same principle applies to public transport. A “Sunday service” operates on Easter Monday, but
Since the week leading up to the Easter weekend is a school holiday, the “Ferien” timetables apply to trams and buses. This basically means slightly longer intervals in the morning, when kids no longer need transport to school.
Have fun and enjoy those eggs.