Esmeralda, Barbosella, and Palumbina all sound like characters from a fairy tale but are actually orchids. And if you want to catch a whole book’s worth of glorious orchidaceous shapes and colours, then head over to the International Orchid Show in Vienna…
- Over 40 exhibitors in two large glasshouses
- Full of stunning displays alongside commercial booths selling plants and equipment
- Tucked out the way in the Hirschstetten botanical gardens
- 2023 dates: provisionally sometime in February
- See also: Events in Vienna
Orchids and more
(One of our less-than-impressive orchids from home)
Now, we Europeans consider our roses and other such delights with some pride. And we even have a few little orchids to bring an exotic touch to our grassy meadows.
The tropical orchids, however, cast a sardonic look over at our feeble efforts, for they occupy an entirely different league. And, fortunately for us, the International Orchid Show gives us the chance to see their sublime beauty in all its glory.
Two large and long glasshouses normally host the show on the grounds of the Blumengärten Hirschstetten site.
The location is a municipal plant nursery that includes a palm house, aviaries and other animal enclosures, landscaped and themed gardens, and much more (most of which only open in the warmer months). Consider Hirschstetten a bit of a city secret, actually.
Entering the first show glasshouse reveals landscaped beds covered in a plethora of colour. These are not the standard supermarket orchids you bought grandma last year: photographers will squeal in pleasure and hope they packed a macro lens.
The event is a show in the true meaning of the word. So while most exhibitors have a stand where you can peruse and buy their wares, each also manages a display area filled with blooms and creative designs.
The orchids there range from tiny beauties to giant, almost alien-like, varieties. They hang from lianas and ceiling hooks, poke out of raised beds, and peek out from among trees, shrubs and water features that create an authentic-looking natural environment. And that’s not all…
A few organisations set up stall for the show, too, such as orchid societies, university botanical gardens, and the federal and municipal garden authorities. And all have some display or another.
In 2020, for example, the Hirschstetten hosts integrated orchid arrangements with cut-out buildings and instruments representing Vienna as a city of music. This included a piano and a life-size golden Johann Strauss.
And that’s still not all…
Among the orchids, you’ll also find walls of air plants and perhaps cacti and carnivorous plants. On my visit to the last show, one stand even sold orchid-inspired jewellery.
The event typically contains somewhere in excess of 40 exhibitors, most of whom display (and sell) orchids or related equipment and supplies. And the title “international” is no exaggeration. I spotted exhibitors from as far afield as Taiwan and Brasil.
2023 dates and tickets
At the time of writing, the organisers hope you can see all the orchids and other plants again in February 2023 (exact dates TBA). Last time out, the glasshouses opened from 9am to 5pm, with one late-night opening.
Tickets at the door cost €7 for a standard adult in 2020. And if you got peckish inside, a café sold drinks, snacks (e.g. cake and strudel), and meals.
How to get to the orchids
The show takes place somewhat outside the centre in the district of Donaustadt (which translates to Danube City).
Using public transport, your best bet is to get as close as you can on the subway, then use the bus.
Option 1: Take the U2 line to the Hardeggasse station, then jump on a 95A bus for about 17 minutes to reach the Blumengärten Hirschstetten stop.
Option 2: Take the U1 line to Kagraner Platz and jump on the 22A bus for around eight minutes to the Blumengärten Hirschstetten stop.
The Hirschstetten site also has a couple of decent-sized car parks, though these might get busy at weekends, for example.
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