“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 is 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
- 2020 dates: Sept 12-13 (provisional)
- See also: Waldviertelpur | Styrian Spring festival | Genuss Festival
The harvest festival
Once a year, 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.
On the drink side, 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 the event is accompanied by a programme of musical treats (assuming you like brass bands and folk dancing).
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 there was 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. Go on the Sunday afternoon when the festival parade takes place.
2020 dates and tickets
The Erntedankfest takes place provisionally on the weekend of September 12th and 13th. Times (unconfirmed for 2020) are typically midday to 8pm (Saturday) and 10am to 6pm (Sunday).
No ticket is required. But you will need cash if you want to eat or drink anything.
How to get to the Erntedankfest
The 2019 event took place in the Augarten, a Baroque park that’s also home to the famous porcelain manufactory and museum. This should be the 2020 location, too. Look for the old flak tower to find the stalls.
Subway: It’s quite a large park, but there are subway stations at either end – Friedensbrücke on the U4 line and Taborstraße on the U2 line
Tram/bus: The 31 tram runs along the bottom of the park (get off at Gaußplatz or Obere Augartenstraße). The same two stops work with the 5A bus
Address: Augarten Park, 1020 Vienna | Website