August 2022

If you ask locals about Kirchtag, it’s almost like Wienerschnitzel. Everyone knows what it is like. And if you wanted to explain to someone who is e.g a vegetarian? Let me try then.

Everyday Villach is a quiet town. Not much going on here, although for the seventh largest city in Austria, one would expect more. The cultural offer is rather modest; anything more happens in Klagenfurt or even Graz. Culinary offerings like the taste buds of the locals: rather dulled to regional cuisine and maybe Italian, and night live lovers are left to choose between the only club and a sleepover. Occasionally something twitches in the attractions over the holidays or a Harley rally in nearby Faak am See, and just once a year the politely combed and sitting still Villach turns into one big week-long party. It’s Ibiza, Amsterdam, Ischgl and Berlin all at once, every night, and by day it’s a funfair and folk fest.

Lunapark at Kirchtag

According to conservative estimates, in the pre-Covid days about 80,000 people a day flocked to the city. And this year it looks like a similar result (edit: according to preliminary estimates, the city received about 450,000 visitors). From surrounding villages, towns, from all over Austria and beyond, for the week-long, the most popular, the longest and the most unusual Kirchtag in the world. A party on steroids worthy of Arnold S himself.

There’s no denying that it’s crowded. This crowding accelerates every day, the opening Sunday still slowly, just for the children and their activities , and then, like a snowball, adding more and more guests, corporate events and the final Friday-Saturday invasion of Italians

Not that crowdy yet on Sunday

Local dress reigns supreme: gentlemen in Lederhosen and shirts in tiny flowers or checks and ladies in Drindels, here and there profusely emphasizing what’s rotund. All this is laced with folk music, every pub a different one, local Villacher beer and lots of loud conversations and laughters.

One can have some special plans for a Kirchtag

Everyone is here and everyone meets everyone they know from their kindergartens, their schools, their streets and their desks. For such a large number of people in a various state of wellbeing, and such a squeeze, just a few incidents a day is really nothing. It’s safe, polite and friendly. „A Croatian man punched a Karentian in the face and ran away,” „Drunk blocked carousel,” are classic morning headlines from local portals.

The city waves, sings and dances. There is a funfair with a shooting range and carousels that just by looking at them your head is already spinning, there are foodtrucks, there are folk costumes and goodies to buy. There is a special Kirchtagsuppe, which is eaten with sweet cake, there are beers brewed for the occasion. It’s also expensive – Villacher beer at €5.90 is well above standard prices.

Villages parade on Saturday noon

In all the ruckus, I must admit I found myself quite tolerable and I can confidently say that it is a nice event.

Come and enjoy!