“Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”, I thought, viewing the artificial cow teats at the big harvest festival in Vienna.
I didn’t try it.
But if you do fancy practicing your milking skills, the 2-day Erntdankefest (harvest festival) event might be the place.
- A celebration of Austrian agriculture in the big city
- Lots of regional food, drink, music and entertainment
- Good place to keep the kids amused
- Next dates: TBA
- See also:
The harvest festival
Once a (normal) year, usually in early September, Austria’s agriculture descends on Vienna to offer thanks for the harvest, showcase its products, and educate city dwellers in the ways of the rural world.
Fortunately, many of those products are edible or drinkable, so a big chunk of the festival is turned over to stands and marquees brimming with regional specialties.
Great rounds of mountain cheese nestle next to rows of homemade jams. Styrian apples compete with Wachauer apricots, pumpkin oil with pancakes, Waldviertel carp with organic kebabs.
Beer, wine and fruit juices flow in equal measure, plus there’s a chance to sample some of the regional classics. Sturm, for example, is a cloudy, fermented grape juice, while Most is a popular cider-like drink. And then there’s the Schnapps, which seems to come in endless varieties and colours.
In fact, it’s the colours that are one of the more striking elements of the festival area.
Quite apart from the fruit and vegetables on display, processed products like pasta and chutneys also come in an array of reds, yellows and greens. Not forgetting the clothes, either, with visitors, exhibitors, and musicians alike often dressing in their regional costumes.
I mention musicians because a programme of musical treats (assuming you like brass bands and folk dancing) typically accompanies the event.
Aside from the food and drink stalls, numerous educational stands offer information about national parks and other organisations.
Kids, in particular, can get to grips (literally) with life on the land, through craft activities, games and quizzes. Forget your bouncy castles: the year I attended we had a bouncy tractor.
For the tourist, it seems a marvellous opportunity to work your way through the culinary concoctions of an entire country without leaving Vienna.
Dates, tickets & tips
The traditional date for the Erntedankfest is a weekend in September. I’ll keep an eye out for confirmed future events. Otherwise check locally for updates on timing (assuming it repeats).
No ticket is required. But you need cash to purchase food and drink.
How to get to the Erntedankfest
The last event took place in the Augarten, a Baroque park that’s also home to the famous porcelain manufactory and museum. Another regular home has been Heldenplatz right in the centre. Watch this space for more details if and when information reaches me.