Carnival in Vienna
From Viennese carnival parades to typical Faschingskrapfen
While staying in Vienna during February, you shouldn’t be surprised to discover people looking like princesses, superheroes, cowboys and animals. Fancy dressed children and adults are not uncommon once Fasching (carnival season) arrives. During that time, funny looking creatures cross your way on many streets in Vienna, as Fasching is Austria’s most funny and crazy time of the year; countless parties are celebrated and several parades take place.
Furthermore, many restaurants, cafés and public rooms are decorated nicely. Colorful garlands, patterned paper streamers and lampions beautify parts of the city and have a magnificent impact on people’s mood. Children are especially excited about these festivities, not only because they have the possibility to dress up, but also because it’s common for this period to enjoy large quantities of delicious food.
The meaning of Fasching
Although it is common to throw parties and parades for Fasching in February, the official beginning of this time is on November 11 at exactly 11:11 am, at least in the German-speaking areas of Europe. Fasching’s original meaning has a Christian purpose, for this time is meant to be a preparation for the Fastenzeit (Lenten season).
The most important day of this spiritual time was the day right before Aschermittwoch (Ash Wednesday), which is the beginning of the Fastenzeit. In the past, this Tuesday was considered a confessional day, but over time, countless traditions developed and changed the original meaning. Nowadays, this very day is called Faschingsdienstag (Carnival Tuesday). In 2018, it takes place on February 13. It still is the highlight of Fasching, on which uncountable celebrations and festivities take place. Not at least, it is the last possibility for Christians to fill their belly before Fastenzeit starts at Aschermittwoch. Typical food during that time has always been rather unhealthy, for it contained ingredients that were forbidden during Lent. Over the decades, one sweetness in particular happened to be the most common traditional food of Fasching: the Faschingskrapfen.
Faschingskrapfen in Vienna
The real reason Krapfen became the most typical food in Fasching is a mystery, but nobody cares since everybody in Vienna loves the sweet and fluffy delicacies. In Austria, over one million Faschingskrapfen are eaten during this time, and you can get them in every supermarket and bakery.
The dough is quite similar to a donut’s. Inside the dough, the Krapfen is typically filled with apricot jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Over the years, several other fillings developed, such as nougat and vanilla.
While these three versions are the common ones, sometimes you will also find Faschingskrapfen filled with strawberry jam or Powidl (plum jam). But one famous Viennese bakery developed a bigger selection of extraordinary tastes and versions of Faschingskrapfen than anyone else: AIDA is one of Vienna’s oldest and best known bakeries. It has been around for nearly a century and visiting it is a must for every tourist. Fasching is the ideal time to do so, for the variation of Faschingskrapfen is enormous.
AIDA’s huge selection of Faschingskrapfen
One of the many reasons AIDA’s Krapfen are special is the fact that they are handmade. In addition, the classical one is filled with homemade apricot jam. They offer up to 13 different variations of filling and glazing, and also the decorations are pleasing to the eye. One of them is called Sisi, named after Austrian’s most famous empress. It has a lilac topping, for Sisi’s favourite flour was lavender. Another one is the Mozart Krapfen with marzipan and nougat, just like the Mozartkugeln. The assortment also contains a golden Opernball Krapfen.
So, go visit one of the AIDA stores and enjoy these special Faschingskrapfen!
If you want to combine eating Faschingskrapfen with celebrating, then attending one of Vienna’s carnival parades is a great idea!
Carnival parade in the Viennese Prater
Although carnival parades are rather uncommon in Vienna compared to other federal estates in Austria, there is one which is set in the Viennese Prater. Last year, over 1000 people attended this parade, most of them fully dressed up and in a great party mood. Fasching is the ideal time to experience Vienna in a rather crazy and unusual way, so visiting a carnival parade would be indeed fun for most of you. Among other performances, several carefree musicians and bands lighten up everyone’s mood with fanciful and entertaining arrangements. Indeed, you can marvel at the remarkably realistic costumes you haven’t seen before. Crowds are dancing and running though the Prater and celebrate Fasching loudly and fiercely.
One festive activity that also comes to mind when thinking about Fasching is the Masque Ball. In Vienna, countless balls take place in the first month of the New Year. There are several variations in theme and atmosphere of the balls. You can learn about them in our latest blog entry “Kickstart Your Year in Vienna.”
Viennese masquerade ball
A Viennese ball that goes hand in hand with Fasching is the Rudolfina-Redoute Ball. It is a traditional and old ball organized by students and it is the last real masque ball in Vienna. During this evening, women wear masks and have the pleasure of inviting men to dance with them until midnight, which is a lot of fun and also wonderfully mysterious. Traditionally, it takes place at the well-known Wiener Hofburg and is reminiscent of the typical Venetian flair and it’s masquerades. This year it’s on Faschingsmontag (Carnival Monday) on February 27th. Faschingsmontag is the second most important day this season, right after Faschingsdienstag. So, spending this evening dancing in one of Vienna’s most beautiful sights is a perfect activity to celebrate the end of carnival time.
We wish you a lot of fun while celebrating Fasching in Vienna!