Spring – putting up the Maibaum
On Mai 1st, every town in Austria is building up a Maibaum, a long tree decorated at the top. There are competitions of climbing up the tree accompanied by a Bierfest. It is a tradition to try to steal the Maibaum from the neighbor town within the first three days after building it up. When you succeed, the neighbor town has to pay everyone involved a big Austrian snack (Bretteljause).
Summer – hiking and swimming
Hiking is probably – besides skiing – the true national sport in Austria. People, no matter if from the city or countryside, love going to the mountain peaks and from one alp-hut to another. These alp-huts offer homemade products served with beer (or fresh alp water) by a girl in a Dirndl. Sometimes locals take out their instruments and play on accordion, guitar and zither, or just sing a Jodler. At those places you can best feel the spirit of Gemütlichkeit.
In hot summer days the cool lakes of Salzkammergut, the heart of Austria, are recommendable. Traunsee, Hallstättersee or Wolfgangsee offer an incredible panorama which equally attracts locals and tourists.
Fall – beer and Almabtrieb
In early fall, the (Bier)Feste take place. For sure you have to visit the most famous party in the world – Oktoberfest! You don’t need to go to Munich for that – there are many smaller ‘Oktoberfeste’ throughout Austria, which are cheaper and also great fun.
The farmers in the Alps prepare their livestock for Almabtrieb. Cows and horses get decorated with flowers, special bells and mirrors. The herd is driven by the farmers in a big event and is going down to the valley for the winter time.
Winter – skiing, Krampus and Christmas markets
Skiing is the national sport in Austria, many of us already did it in kindergarten. It is a must here to drive downhill on two boards; traditionally the world’s best alpine-skiers are Austrians. If you are not able to ski perfectly, sledding is a funny alternative.
Christmas in Austria is very leisurely. But before 'Andachtsjodler' and 'Mitternachtsmette', there is another event: On the 6th of December, good kids get small presents from Nikolaus, whereas bad ones are put in a sack and kidnapped by Krampus, his companion. Krampus is a demon with horns and heavy chains, it is originally a Celtic tradition. Groups of them are walking through the streets and should banish the ongoing freezing winter and - when getting hit from its whips – push bad spirits out of people. There are great Krampus parades in early December, also in Linz.
Especially famous are the Austrian Christmas markets. Every city has one, they are a great way to spend cold winter days. You can eat delicious food, drink “Punsch” and “Glühwein” and enjoy the many lights making each city look really lovely – especially when it starts to snow for the first time.