Every year, European Bike Week takes place at scenic Lake Faak during the first week of September. European Bike Week is one of the most entertaining festivals in Carinthia, with more than 125,000 bike fans and upwards of 70,000 motorcycles taking part in the festivities. Harley-Davidson enthusiasts from all over the world gather at Lake Faak ready to party. With fantastic live entertainment, excellent food, and all things Harley-Davidson, there is something for everyone.
European Bike Week has been rocking and rolling for 20 years and in that time it has grown to be the largest free motorcycle rally in Europe. The area around Lake Faak transforms into the Harley Village complete with vendors, live music, and exposition areas. At Harley Village, there is the Expo and Dark Custom Hall where the latest Harley-Davidson models are on display. Motorcycle fans have the opportunity to have a first look (and touch) at the newest Harley-Davidson models. Even those new to the world of Harley-Davidson will appreciate the beautiful motorcycles and custom vehicles on display.
European Bike Week kicks off on Tuesday at noon and continues through Sunday with five fun-filled evenings. Every day there is live music with the biggest acts performing on Friday and Saturday night. This year, the lineup included headliners Black Stone Cherry and Danko Jones bringing rock and roll to the lake. With free performances and a great crowd, the nightly music performances are a favorite end of summer tradition for Villach locals.
Not to be missed is the Harley-Davidson parade which is the largest parade of its kind in Europe. The parade starts on Saturday at noon and goes from Lake Faak to downtown Villach to the shores of Lake Ossiach before returning to Lake Faak. With more than 10,000 participants, the Harley-Davidson parade is unlike any other. Downtown Villach is a great place to watch the parade and see motorcyclists decked out in their coolest gear.
European Bike Week is a fun annual tradition in Villach and has become a part of the local culture. During Bike Week, the sounds of motorcycle engines can be heard throughout the region. The historic Villach downtown transforms into a motorcycle hub with exclusive motorcycle parking for its visitors. Restaurants and storefronts decorate their windows with the Harley-Davidson black and orange and “Welcome Bikers” signs are posted around town. One Villach expat even purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle after moving to Villach since he enjoyed the European Bike Week so much and wanted to take part in the fun.
What are you waiting for? Mark your calendars for the first week of September and be sure to bring your toughest leather jacket and bandana to join the festivities. European Bike Week is a fun event and I look forward to the festivities every year. Who knows? You may end up riding away on a Harley-Davidson of your own next year.
Chelsea Navarro is an American expat from California, USA.
She has lived in Villach with her partner and dog since February, 2016. She enjoys exploring the Austrian wilderness, drinking Villacher beer and traveling around Europe.