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Winter in Villach

Happy New Year! Celebrating Silvester in Carinthia

Chelsea Navarro

Author
2018-12-14

There are only two more weeks until the new year and that means it is time to celebrate. Not sure what your New Year’s Eve plans are yet? Welcome2Villach has you covered with all of the information you need to have a great New Year’s Eve in Carinthia. Whether you would like to enjoy a quiet evening in nature or dance the night away at a lively party - there is something for everyone. For new arrivals to Villach, we also have information on Austrian New Year’s Eve traditions so you won't get confused when someone gives you a pig figurine on New Year’s Eve. So bid Auf Wiedersehen to the past and get ready to celebrate.  

What is Silvester?

Have you ever wondered why Austrians call New Year’s Eve Silvester? The name Silvester comes from the St. Sylvester Feast Day that is celebrated on December 31st. When the Gregorian calendar was reformed in 1582, the last day of the year fell on St. Sylvester’s Feast Day. This is why St. Sylvester’s Feast Day and New Year’s Eve have become a shared holiday in Austria. Although New Year’s Eve in Austria shares its name with a Catholic Saint, many Silvester traditions can be traced back to the pagan celebration of Rauhnächte. During Rauhnächte it was important to make lots of noise and create smoke to scare away winter demons.

© Region Villach Tourismus GmbH/Gert Steinthaler

Austrian Silvester Traditions

There are plenty of traditions to choose from to celebrate Silvester in Austrian-style.

  • Bleigießen Fortune Telling: Want to know what to expect from the new year? All you need is a little lead, a candle, and water to see what the next year has in store for you. Bleigießen is an ancient way of fortune telling that involves melting lead and pouring it into a bowl of cold water. Once the hot lead hits the water it cools into a unique shape that tells you what the future will bring. During December, it is popular to buy Bleigießen kits at shops throughout Austria. On Silvester, friends and families gather together to tell one another’s fortunes. For example, seeing a basket shape may mean you will be lucky in love or seeing a ship may mean you will travel.

  • Glücksbringer for Good Luck: Don’t be alarmed if a friend gives you a pig figurine during Silvester, it isn’t a way of saying you ate too much during the holidays. During Silvester, it is popular to give good luck charms as gifts to celebrate the New Year. Shops and Christmas markets sell “Glücksbringer” figurines, marzipan sweets, and cards. Common good luck symbols include four-leaf clovers, mushrooms, horseshoes, ladybugs, chimney sweeps, and pigs.

  • Waltz into the New Year: At the stroke of midnight, you may see Austrians waltzing in the streets. While people all over Austria will hear the sound of church bells ringing in the new year, you may also hear the famous Blue Danube Waltz playing. The Austrian national broadcast ORF plays the Blue Danube Waltz at midnight every Silvester. So dust off your dancing shoes to celebrate the new year in Austria.

  • Austrian Silvester Sayings: Want to say Silvester greetings like a true Austrian? Wish your loved ones a “Guten Rutsch” before the clock strikes midnight on Silvester. “Guten Rutsch” means to “slide well into the new year” just like a slide at the playground. After midnight, it’s time to say “Frohes neues Jahr” and give out hugs and kisses to wish a Happy New Year!

Where to Celebrate Silvester in Carinthia

Still deciding on how to celebrate Silvester? Carinthia has plenty of cultural events and parties to choose from.

  • Silvester in Villach: The historic old town of Villach transforms during Silvester into the largest New Year’s Eve party in the city with live music and a Silvester market. The festivities start at 11:00 am and fireworks light up the sky at midnight. Insider tip: Watch the fireworks from the top of the Dobratsch mountain for a special view of the city.

  • Silvester Trail at the Maltschacher See: Starting at 5:00 pm, you can take a wonderful New Year's Eve walk (3.6 km) around Lake Maltschacher See. Numerous stalls will have Silvester attractions such as hot beverages, delicious treats, savory snacks and plenty of warm bonfires.

  • Silvester in Klagenfurt: The capital city of Carinthia has many Silvester events to ring in the new year. Enjoy a New Year’s Eve Concert in the Klagenfurt cathedral with classical music or celebrate with the whole family at the children’s Silvester party at the Pfarrplatz. At midnight, don’t miss the largest fireworks display in all of Carinthia.

  • Gala Parties at the Schloss Seefels in Pörtschach and the Schlosshotel Velden: Experience a classy Silvester gala at these historic hotels in Carinthia. Guests will be delighted by the live music, delicious gala menus, and amazing firework shows over the Lake Wörthersee. 

  • Celebrate Silvester in the Mountains at Bad Kleinkirchheim: Take a ride on the mountain railway to take your Silvester celebrations to new heights. At the middle station on the mountain, there will be fun entertainment and a fireworks show at midnight.

No matter how or where you celebrate, the Welcome2Villach team wishes you a Happy New Year! Guten Rutsch!


About the author

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.

Chelsea blogs about her adventures and life in Villach at helloandhallo.com and twice per month here at welcome2villach.at.


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