Time to pack out the Austrian folkwear, grab a seat on a wooden bench, order a local wine, and feast on meals with alarmingly long names. And all in a Viennese suburb at the Neustifter Kirtag.
- Hugely popular event in one of Vienna’s wine-growing areas
- Long line of market booths and food & drink stalls
- Route flanked by wine taverns
- Plenty of live music
- Many visitors wear traditional Austrian garb
- 2023 dates: TBA (4 days in the second half of August)
- See also:
Wine, music, and more
Neustift am Walde is a one-time village and now suburb of Vienna in the well-to-do 19th district. Known particularly for its Heuriger wine taverns, the area also hosts the popular annual Kirtag fair.
Thousands of people enjoy this traditional street festival that dates back through the centuries.
The story goes that sometime in the mid 1700s, local wine growers sent a delegation to the empress of the time (Maria Theresa) requesting an easing of the tax burden following a notably bad harvest.
Apparently, Maria Theresa looked favourably on the request but under the condition that Neustift should hold an annual Kirtag (a kind of parish fair).
And so a tradition was born, which includes, for example, the daily procession of a Hauerkrone (a crown of produce initially presented to the empress as a gift of supplication and thanks).
If you’re understandably confused by the concept of a city having wine-growing areas, Vienna includes a number of thriving vineyards in its suburban foothills.
(The Hauerkrone on its journey through the Kirtag)
So what exactly do you get at the Neustifter Kirtag?
For four days, a roughly 650m stretch of suburban road turns into a pedestrianised market and gastronomy mile.
Market stands line the way selling all the sorts of products you might expect at a Viennese street market. Many specialise in traditional food, snacks and drink. You might also come across the occasional small funfair ride or booth.
The Kirtag route also takes you past several Heuriger, whose wooden tables and benches spill out into the warm August evening.
These taverns typically specialise in local wines and rustic Austrian fare updated for the 21st century. On our visit, most had live music playing, too.
All the fun has a traditional thread running through it. And a large number of guests dress for the occasion: expect to see huge numbers of Lederhosen (leather breeches) and Dirndl (low neckline dresses) more often associated with Austria’s alpine regions.
Dates, tickets, and tips
I don’t have fixed dates yet for 2023, but the 2022 event took place August 19th to 22nd. The dates apparently follow the August 16th feast day of St. Rochus.
You don’t need a ticket to walk through the festival.
Things may be less busy during the day, but Saturday evening was absolutely packed with the party atmosphere growing with each passing hour. (To my shame, I had no idea just how big and popular the event is.)
You might want to go during the day to peruse the street booths, then grab a free spot at a wine tavern late afternoon / early evening before things get too frantic.
How to get to the Kirtag
You’re out in the suburbs now, so a taxi is a strong option here. We got there by taking the S45 city train to Krottenbachstraße, then the 35A bus from outside the station up to one end of the Kirtag (Neustift / Agnesgasse stop).
You’ll know when to get off the bus because everyone else is doing the same. The S45 connects to the subway network, for example, at Hütteldorf (U4 line), Ottakring (U3), Heiligenstadt (U4) and Handelskai (U6).
The transport authorities (Wiener Linien) always do a grand job at big events of shortening intervals and managing people, but note that the bus up was packed at 6pm on the Saturday we went.
We took the same return route but long lines of taxis were also available at the Rathstraße end of the Kirtag.
Address: ca. Rathstraße 1 along to Neustift am Walde 99 | Website