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…
- Numerous exhibitors
- Full of gorgeous displays
- Commercial booths sell plants and equipment
- Located in the Hirschstetten botanical gardens
- 2024 dates: Feb 21-25
- See also:
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; they occupy an entirely different league.
Fortunately for us, the International Orchid Show gives us the chance to see their sublime beauty in all its glory.
One or more long glasshouses 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 to the public in the warmer months). Consider Hirschstetten a bit of a city secret, actually.
Entering the show glasshouse(s) when I last visited revealed landscaped beds covered in a plethora of colour.
These were 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 often manages a display area filled with blooms and creative designs.
The orchids 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 typically set up stall for the show, too, such as orchid societies, university botanical gardens, and the federal and municipal garden authorities. And all might offer some display or another.
Back 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 might also find walls of air plants and perhaps cacti and carnivorous plants. On my visit, one stand even sold orchid-inspired jewellery.
(And the title “international” is no exaggeration. I spotted exhibitors from as far afield as Taiwan and Brasil.)
2024 dates, tickets & tips
2024 dates are February 21st to 25th (9am to 6pm). In 2023, a reduced-scale International Orchid Market allowed you to see all the orchids and other plants again, but it looks like the “show” reappears in 2024.
Tickets cost €8 for a standard adult.
This is one of the few annual events to entertain us in the normally quiet February.
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 or tram.
Option 1: Take the U1 line to Kagraner Platz and jump on the 22A bus for around eight minutes to the Blumengärten Hirschstetten stop. Or catch the 26 tram to the Oberfeldgasse/Spargelfeldstr. stop (which is around the back of the gardens).
Option 2: Take the U2 line to the Hardeggasse station, then jump on a 95A bus for about 17 minutes to reach 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.
Address: Quadenstraße 15, 1220 Vienna | Website