About the Country
Located in central Europe, Austria celebrates worlds best music festivals like the Salzburg Festival, Haydn Festival in Vienna, and the International Chamber Music Festival. Vienna is the capital of Austria as well as the musical capital of Europe. Music and art are in full flare here after centuries of hardship and innovation. That explains Vienna being the birthplace of Mozart. Horse dances are also part of these festivals. Since it snows in winter, the snow covered Alps is a must be visited place during the winter. Austria experiences a moderate summer. Rains can be expected year round. Incase of emergency call 120 or 123.
The romantic castles simply leave you astounded. The Schloss Durnstein provides a magnificent view besides the River Danube. A 10% tip should be paid to the taxi drivers, which is customary here.
German, Hungarian, Slovene, and Croatian are the languages spoken by the locals. To greet the locals, a handshake will do. When meeting someone for the first time, its better to refer them by their last name, but once better known they can be addressed by the first name. When out in the public, say Guten Tag or Gruss Gott to greet people and while leaving say Auf Wiedersehen. Carry along flowers when going over to someones house. The locals here have a passion for horse riding. The worlds best art of horsemanship can be found here which is as old as 400 years and to watch the horses perform at these schools; tickets must be booked in advance. Although service charge is levied on restaurant bills, an extra 5% should be paid as tip.
Three national airlines operate in Austria, Austrian Arrows, Austrian Airlines and Lausda Air, which
work in collaboration with the Austrian Airlines Group. The Vienna airport is 18 km away from the city. Airport buses transport passengers to the South Train and West Train Station. Railway, chauffeur-driven car and taxi service is also provided at the airport. Duty free shops, post office, bank, eateries, left luggage, tourism information, conference hall, nursery, car hiring and car parking facilities are provided to the passengers at the airport.
Salzburg airport is 4 km away from the city and buses, trains, taxis and hotel coach shuttle passengers to an
d from the airport. Facilities such as duty free shops, post office, currency exchange, left luggage, conference hall, restaurants and car hire exist at the airport. Check out the other airports such as Klagenfurt airport, Graz airport and Linz airport for more details. All the airports charge a fixed rate for porter service.
International tourists can get to Austria by Austrian Federal railways Obb, if planning to travel by train. It has a large network which connects the major cities within Austria and also outside Austria. Travelers can find connections to/from Germany, Russia, Greece, Romania, Turkey Brussels, Paris and Italy. International rail passes or Eurail pass can be bought to travel around Austria as they provide unlimited travel and other offers too.
A good network of roads here provides an interesting journey. Take Eurotunnel when crossing the Channel Tunnel while traveling by car. Bookings should be made in advance. The cars can be hired at the airports and railway stations and if driving own car carry documentations like UK driving license or national driving license and car registration papers. Toll booths are installed on the motorways and S roads, so if change is carried in advance it will ensure no delays in the journey. Registration documents should be carried along all the time while driving. The lights should be turned on while driving, in the city or outside, all the time. There are strict laws for seat belts and drinking while driving. If using the motorbike, high visibility jacket and helmet must be worn, its a compulsion for both the passenger and the driver. Many federal, private companies and local authorities provide bus service. Coaches are provided for moving around within the cities.
Wurm and Kock provide cruise passenger service. Along with the cruise trip, packages include stay at a hotel. Check out, before hand, for offer. There are many Ferry service providers too.
Duty Free Items
1. 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco or a proportional mix of these products
2. 1l of spirits over 22 per cent or 2l of fortified wine or spirits up to 22 per cent or 2l of sparkling wine or liqueur and 2l of still wine
3. 500g of coffee or 200g of extracts, essences or concentrates of coffee, and 100g of tea or 40g of tea extracts
4. medicinal products sufficient for the journey
5. 50g of perfume or eau de toilette
6. All the above mentioned goods should be carried by a person over 17 years of age.
NOTED FESTIVALS / CARNIVALS :
New Year's Eve/New Year's Day.
Vienna's biggest night is launched by the famed concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The New Year also marks the beginning of Fasching, the famous Vienna Carnival season, which lasts through Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). For tickets and information, contact the Wiener Philharmoniker, Bösendorferstrasse 12, A-1010 Vienna (tel. 01/5056525; www.wienerphilharmoniker.at). The concert is followed by the Imperial Ball in the Hofburg. For information and tickets, contact the Hofburg Kongresszentrum, Hofburg, Heldenplatz, A-1014 Vienna (tel. 01/5873666; www.hofburg.com).
Berg Isel Ski Jumping Competition, Innsbruck. One of the country's most daredevil ski-jump competitions kicks off the new year at a platform built for the 1964 Olympics. First week in January.
Hahnenkamm World Cup Ski Race, Kitzbühel. Since 1931, this major sporting event has drawn world-class skiers from around the globe to compete for the prestigious World Cup. Skiers compete over 2 days, but the whole town parties for a week. Tickets are available at the gate. For information, contact the Kitzbühel Tourist Office (tel. 05356/777; www.kitzbuehel.com). Mid-January.
Eistraum (Dream on Ice).
During the coldest months of Austrian winter, the monumental plaza between the Town Hall and the Burgtheater is flooded and frozen; lights, loudspeakers, and a stage are hauled in, and the entire civic core is transformed into a gigantic ice-skating rink. Sedate waltz tunes accompany the skaters during the day, and DJs spin rock, funk, and reggae after the sun goes down. Around the rink, dozens of kiosks sell everything from hot chocolate and snacks to wine and beer. For information, call tel. 01/4090040, or visit www.wienereistraum.com. Last week of January to mid-March.
Salzburg. This festival features opera, orchestral works, and chamber music. Get tickets at the Mozarteum, Schwarzstrasse 26, A-5024 Salzburg (tel. 0662/873154; www.mozarteum.at). Late January to early February.
On the last Thursday of the Fasching, Vienna's high society gathers at the Wien Staatsoper for the grandest ball of the Carnival season. The evening opens with a performance by the Opera House Ballet. You don't need an invitation, but you do need to buy a ticket, which, as you might guess, isn't cheap. For information, contact the Vienna Opera House directly (tel. 01/51444-2250; www.staatsoper.at).
Gaschurn, in the heart of Vorarlberg (9.6km/6 miles from Schruns), is the resort that lies closest to the downhill runs of the Silvretta-Nova subdivision of the Montafon Valley. It's the site of a 1-week ski festival sponsored by the Belgian-Austrian chocolate manufacturer Suchard. The men's and women's events are the Montafon Valley's most important ski competition. For information, contact the Vorarlberg Tourist Office (tel. 05574/425250; www.vorarlberg.cc). Late February to early March.
Bregenz Spring Festival.
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra usually appears at these concerts, which usher in the greening of the surrounding Alps. For information, contact the Bregenz Festival, Plaz der Wiener Symphoniker 1, A-6900 Bregenz (tel. 0557/4076; www.bregenzerfestspiele.com). First 3 weeks of March.
Vienna Spring Festival.
The festival has a different central theme every year, but you can always count on music by the world's greatest composers, including Mozart and Brahms, at the Konzerthaus. The booking address is Karlsplatz 6, Lothringerstrasse 20, A-1030 Vienna (tel. 01/242002; www.konzerthaus.at). Mid-March through the first week of May.
International Music Festival.
This traditional highlight of Vienna's concert calendar features top-class international orchestras, distinguished conductors, and classical greats. You might hear Beethoven's Eroica as it was meant to be played, Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, and perhaps Bruckner's Romantic. The list of conductors and orchestras reads like a who's who of the international world of music. The venue and booking address is Wiener Musikverein, Bösendorferstrasse 12, A-1010 Vienna (tel. 01/5058190; www.musikverein-wien.at). Early May through the first 3 weeks of June.
An exciting array of operas, operettas, musicals, theater, and dances are performed. New productions of treasured classics are presented alongside avant-garde premieres, all staged by internationally prominent directors. In addition, celebrated productions from renowned European theaters offer guest performances. Anticipate such productions as Mozart's Così fan tutte, Monteverdi's Orfeo, and Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne. For bookings, contact Wiener Festwochen, Lehárgasse 11, A-1060 Vienna (tel. 01/5892222; www.festwochen.at). The second week of May until mid-June.
Danube Lower Austria Festival,
along the Danube River, in various locations and at St. Pölten, the state capital. Dance, theater, music, art, poetry, and ecology are presented at a number of venues, including a riverboat. Mid-June to mid-July.
Midsummer Night Celebration.
This celebration is held all over Austria, with bonfires and folkloric events. The liveliest observances are in the Tyrolean valley towns and in the Wachau region along the Danube in Austria. June 20.
This grand annual cultural celebration features a different theme every year. For tickets and information, contact Styriarte Graz, Palais Attems, Sackstrasse 17, A-8010 Graz (tel. 0316/8129410; www.styriarte.com). Late June to mid-July.
Vienna Jazz Festival.
This is one of the world's top jazz events, using the Vienna State Opera as its central venue. The program calls for appearances by more than 50 international and local stars. For information and bookings, contact the Verein Jazz Fest Wien, Lammgasse 12 (tel. 01/7124224; www.viennajazz.org). Late June to mid-July.
Vienna Summer of Music.
This premier event fills the cultural calendar with concerts at City Hall, Schönbrunn Palace, and many landmark homes of great 19th-century Viennese musicians. Densely packed with musical options, the festival often features a series of different musical events on any given night. For tickets, schedules, and information, contact the Wiener Musiksommer, Laudongasse 4, A-1010 Vienna (tel. 01/400084722).
July 1 to late August.
Festival of Early Music,
Innsbruck. Everything from baroque operas to recitals featuring historical instruments characterizes this annual event. Concerts are presented at the Hofburg, the Tyroler Landestheater, and the Castle Ambras. For tickets and information,
contact the Innsbruck Festival, Burggraben 3, A-6020 Innsbruck (tel. 0512571032; www.altemusik.at). Mid-July into August.
Bregenz Summer Festival.
The cultural highlight of the summer is the appearance once again of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. For information, contact the Bregenz Tourist Office, Plaz der Wiener, Symphoniker 1, A-6900 Bregenz (tel. 05574/407; www.bregenzerfestspiele.com). Mid-July to mid-August.
Since the 1920s, this has been one of the premier cultural events of Europe, sparkling with opera, chamber music, plays, concerts, appearances by world-class artists, and many other cultural presentations. Always count on stagings of Mozart operas. Performances are held at various venues throughout the city. For tickets, write several months in advance to the Salzburg Festival, Postfach 140, A-5010 Salzburg (tel. 0662/8045500; www.salzburgfestival.at).
Late July to late August.
Summer Stage, Vienna.
Along the quays of the Donau Inlet, adjacent to the Friedensbrücke, midsummer is celebrated by hundreds of the young, the upwardly mobile, and the trendy who converge on the periphery of the city to enjoy the night air and one another's company. Temporary stages present everything from performance art to live music. Adding to the revelry are the 20 or so seasonal bars that open their doors to the milling summer crowd every night from 5pm to 2am. July and August.
Music Film Festival.
Opera, operetta, and masterful concert performances captured on celluloid are enjoyed free under a starry sky in front of the neo-Gothic City Hall on the Ringstrasse. Programs focus on works by Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, or other composers. For more information, contact Ideenagentur Austria, Opernring 1R, A-1010 Vienna (tel. 01/40008100; www.wien-event.at). Mid-July to mid-September.
Haydn Days, Eisenstadt, in Burgenland.
Held in Eisenstadt, where Haydn lived for 40 years, this festival presents the composer's trios, quartets, symphonies, operas, and choral works. Venues include the Esterházy castle, local churches, and even the city's public parks. For tickets and information, contact the Burgenlandische Haydn Festspiele, Schloss Esterházy, A-7000 Eisenstadt (tel. 02682/61866; www.haydnfestival.at).
Early to mid-September.
International Bruckner Festival, Linz.
This month-long festival features concerts, theatrical presentations, art exhibits, and fireworks. For tickets and information, contact Festspiele, Untere Donaulände 7, A-4010 Linz (tel. 0732/76122124; www.brucknerhaus.linz.at). Mid-September to early October.
This film festival shows everything from the most daringly avant-garde to golden oldies of the (mostly European) silver screen. Check the program to see which films will be in English or have English subtitles. For tickets and information, contact the Wiener Festwochen Viennale, Stiftgasse 6, A-1070 Vienna (tel. 01/5265947; www.viennale.at). Throughout October.
in its 22nd year in 2009, was founded by Claudio Abbado and is devoted to the performance of contemporary works in music. The emphasis is not just on Austrian composers -- it has included works from Scandinavian and Baltic countries, Iceland, Romania, Portugal, and other nations. Some of the composers make live appearances and discuss their compositions. Concerts usually last 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Performances are at Verein Wien Modern, Lothringerstrasse 20 (tel. 01/242000), but the booking phone number is (tel. 01/242002; www.konzerthaus.at).
Late October to late November.
Vienna Schubert Festivale.
This all-Schubert celebration marks its 27th annual observance in 2009. For information, contact Wiener Musikverein, Karlsplatz 6, A-1010 Vienna (tel. 01/5058190; www.musikverein-wien.at). Third week of November.
Look for pockets of folkloric charm (and, in some cases, kitsch) associated with the Christmas holidays. Small outdoor booths, known as Christkindlmarkt -- usually adorned with evergreen boughs, red ribbons, and, in some cases, religious symbols --sprout up in clusters around Vienna. They're selling old-fashioned toys, Tannenbaum (Christmas tree) decorations, and gift items. Food vendors will also be nearby offering sausages, cookies and pastries, roasted chestnuts, and kartoffel (charcoal-roasted potato slices). The greatest concentrations of these open-air markets can be found in front of the Rathaus, in the Spittelberg Quarter (7th District), at Freyung, the historic square in the northwest corner of the Inner City. Late November to New Year's.
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LIST OF PUBLIC HOLIDAYS :
January - 01 (Tuesday) New Year's Day
January - 06 (Sunday) Epiphany
March - 31 (Sunday) Easter Sunday
April - 01 (Monday) Easter Monday
May - 01 (Wednesday) Labor Day
May - 09 (Thursday) Ascension Day
May - 19 (Sunday) Whit Sunday
May - 20 (Monday) Whit Monday
May - 30 (Thursday) Corpus Christi
August - 15 (Thursday) Assumption of Mary
October - 26 (Saturday) National day
November - 01 (Friday) All Saints' Day
December - 08 (Sunday) Immaculate Conception
December - 25 (Wednesday) Christmas
December - 26 (Thursday) St. Stephen's Day
By Manish Abraham