Events & Festivals in Lower Austria
Lower Austria is the country′s biggest and most populous province. It has one advantage, the vicinity to Vienna. And one disadvantage, the vicinity to Vienna. The area within one hour′s drive around the capital is essentially a suburb (and an ugly one that is) and a lot of the cultural life is oriented towards the city. Lower Austria serves merely as a stage for summer festivals, when Vienna′s operas, theatres and concert halls are closed and the heat drives the Viennese upper-class out to the countryside.
Be it the music festival of Grafenegg, the wine celebrations of the Wachau or series of concerts in the Baroque palaces of the Marchfeld - they all serve primarily a Viennese audience. Only the Wald-, Most- and Weinviertel areas further from Vienna stand alone due to their remoteness. Here you find rural celebrations and festivals that are covered in my "Customs and Traditions of Austria" article.
Musiksommer Niederösterreich: All sorts of music presented in a series of concerts and "sub-festivals" with a theme in more than 30 performance locations all over Lower Austria - starting in April. For details, see the tourist information service for Lower Austria.
A series of "International Organ Concerts" - played in St. Pölten, the capital of Lowe Austria. The cathedral of St. Pölten has an organ from the 18th century that is used for this occasion. Lasts until June. Note in particular the "Barocktage Melk" in late May; a festival of Baroque music in the Baroque Abbey of Melk.
June or July
"Donaufestival Niederösterreich": Actually a collaboration of various smaller festivals that produce dance, concert and opera in different places of Lower Austria. Including the Wachau area, St. Pölten, Hainburg or Tulln.
"Art Carnuntum" produces classical drama in the Roman theatre of the ancient town. Quite something, mostly thanks to the setting.
"Landesgartenschau" - the garden and flower show in Lower Austria is usually held in Tulln or Grafenegg. A very big deal that draws loads of people from Vienna and its populous surroundings.
Beyond that, there are dozens of small music festivals or concert series all over Lower Austria, but mostly in the vicinity of Vienna - obviously in an attempt to attract Viennese when their city is boiling hot and even more unpleasant than usual. The "Festival Grafenegg" is a new, but classy-conventional music festival. For details, read my article on Schloss Grafenegg.
Wine is the most important agricultural good of Lowe Austria and the wine harvest is celebrated with all sorts of thanksgiving traditions. Note in particular the Weinfest in Retz and the - often touristy - events in the Wachau.
15th of October is the day of St. Leopold, the patron saint of Lower Austria. Celebrated with fairs in many villages. In Klosterneuburg, the monastery presents the "1,000 bucket barrel" that people can climb and then slide down on. This custom is centuries old and derived from the tax paying that took place on this day - by pouring a share of your wine into the communal barrel that Klosterneuburg monastery held.
Christmas markets - like elsewhere in Austria, a big deal. The nice ones are St. Pölten, Wiener Neustadt, Grafenegg, Baden, Schloss Wieselburg, Tulln, Lilienfeld and in the arcades of the courtyard of the Schallaburg.
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Festivals & Events elsewhere in Austria
Vorarlberg - Tyrol (Tirol) - Salzburg - Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) - Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) - Vienna - Carinthia (Kärnten) - Styria - Burgenland
Traditions & Customs of Austria
Best of Fest: Most Popular Festivals of Austria
Ministery for Education, Culture and Science (includes folk culture)
Austrian Tourism Council for current events