St. Rupert’s Fair in Salzburg. When carnival rides, traditional music, dancing, (lots of) beer, food, and fun take over Salzburg’s Old Town square.
Since the 14th century, this annual festival has been celebrated every September in Salzburg. And a tradition that’s lasted hundreds and hundreds of years is bound to be one worth experiencing. In fact, after living in Salzburg for 2 years, it is by far our favorite festival of all.
The best way to describe St Rupert’s Day Fair is like a mini Oktoberfest, but instead of being at festival grounds, you’re surrounded by the Baroque architecture of Salzburg’s Old City squares with the majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress towering over you.
There’s something so magical about enjoying an event that’s lasted centuries in an environment like this. You can feel the joy and free-spirited nature of the celebration, and when you’re right in the heart of this fairytale city with cathedrals and castles in all directions, there is simply nothing cooler or more unique.
What is St Rupert’s Day Fair?
St. Rupert’s Day Fair (or Rupertikirtag in German) is an authentic folk tradition and celebration in the city of Salzburg.
It is meant to honor Saint Rupert, who was the patron saint of Salzburg in the 8th century. Usually centered around the feast of Saint Rupert, during the closest weekend, this festival attracts locals from all over Salzburgerland and beyond. So no, it is definitely not just for the tourists.
In fact, if you have a traditional dirndl or lederhosen, THIS is the time to show it off. Most attendees will be decked out in their finest Austrian tracht (traditional garments in German-speaking countries). So why not join in the fun and get extra use out of your Oktoberfest outfit?
Fun for all ages: What to do at St. Rupert’s Fair
There are seriously endless activities to take part in at St. Rupert’s Festival. From the carnival rides and games to the local crafts and FOOD. People of all ages and all interests will undoubtedly embrace the celebrations, wholeheartedly and joyfully.
There are swings, carousels, spinning rides and carnival games for the young and the young at heart.
Booths of handmade Austrian crafts for all my shoppers out there (including us!). Traditional music and dancing for those that appreciate local folk music and having a good time (everyone!) And FIREWORKS on Sunday night during the festival.
Leaving St. Rupert’s Fair without a smile is just not possible. But your face won’t be the only part of you smiling…your stomach will surely be smiling too.
The food. The oh so delicious food.
Just like every festival and celebration in Austria, food is one of the main attractions. Lining both squares of the Altstadt is (what feels like) endless local treats.
The air smells so delicious, there is no way you’ll be able to resist. Freshly fried schnitzel, garlic fried dough (Langos), warm tangy sauerkraut served in fried dough (Bauernkrapfen), elaborate baked potatoes, every sausage you can imagine, roasted chicken, chocolate, gingerbread…
I could go on and on (but I won’t since this is making my hungry!) Just trust me when I say, come hungry (and with cash!)
And the beer tents…
Of course, it would be no Austrian celebration without beer. And at St. Rupert’s Fair, there is not only beer and wine sold at vendors around the festival; there is a giant beer tent with not only beer but a whole lotta fun inside.
You can sit there throughout the day, listen to music and order off a menu of delicious items. But at night is when the tent really comes alive.We’ve been to Oktoberfest, and it really feels exactly like that, but smaller and with more locals. People will be standing on tables, dancing, singing to the music. It’s just the best.
Since this is an event for locals, most people reserve tables in advance, so if you have a lot of people, it is definitely recommended. But if you don’t or can’t, have no fear. There will most likely be random places to stand and maybe even sit inside and outside of the tent. And hey, you might even meet local Austrians that’ll welcome you to their table and show you a good time (highly likely!)
Girls in dirndls walk around with a mini wooden barrel, offering schnapps for 1-2 euros. Of course, you’ll accept, they’ll hand you a shot glass and THEN you’ll truly feel like a local. (With a little pep in your step, since schnapps is not for the faint of heart.)
It’s just fun. Good and (seriously) old-fashioned fun
St. Rupert’s Day Fair: The Details
Surely, after reading this article you are ready to book your trip and plan a visit to Salzburg around Saint Rupert’s Festival. And we don’t blame you. So here is everything you need to know.
Where: Altstadt, 5020 Salzburg
When: Annually, around the 3rd weekend in
September 2017 dates: September 20-24th 2017 (Wednesday-Sunday)
Planning Tips and Information:
1) Table reservations
If you’re looking to make a table reservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The earlier, the better. For example, this year (2017), after September 4th, they were no longer accepting reservations.
We have never made a reservation before, so here is the rough translation regarding reservations from the St. Rupert’s fair website (thank you Google Translate!)
“Due to the limited contingent at tables, we ask you to timely dinner reservations for the marquee on Kapitelplatz. Reservations are up to and including 04/09/2017 answered. Per person deposit of € 25,00 is required which must be received no later than 19/09/2017. Reserved tables are held for 20 minutes free. The last reservation is possible until 17:00, in the garden, unfortunately, no tables can be reserved.”
2) FIREWORKS show!
On Sunday, the last day, there is usually a fireworks show. This year (2017) it takes place at 8:45 pm. With the castle and the Old Town, fireworks are icing on this magical fairy tale cake.
3) Dress for the occasion.
We definitely recommend dressing in lederhosen or a dirndl for the event. Like we said, all the locals are dressed up, so getting in the spirit and dressing up too makes it extra fun.
4) Parking at St. Rupert’s Fair
If you are parking, park in the Mönchsberg garage. Take your ticket, get it stamped at the festival and your parking will be discounted (4 hours for 4 euros and up to 8 hours only 6 euros.)
5) The schedule of events
On the website, there is a St. Rupert’s festival program, BUT it’s only in German, not English. If you are ready and able to translate or have access to Google translate, it will definitely help with your planning. OR just use this program to get a general idea of when things are happening.
6) Bring CASH
None of the food vendors accept credit cards, and the same goes for some of the craft vendors too. But have no fear, there are plenty of ATMs in the Altstadt, so you will not have a problem taking out money while you get lost in the festivities. (FYI: there is a 400 euro limit per day on the ATMs)
Traditions are an important part of Austrian culture, especially in the city of Salzburg. And St. Rupert’s Fair is the perfect example of keeping old traditions alive in a world where everything changes constantly.
It’s refreshing to see future generations just as enthusiastic about the same music, drinks, and food as the millions that came before them.
And that is why St. Rupert’s fair is the perfect place to Prost, dance, sing, smile and enjoy those same Austrian traditions that have lasted hundreds and hundreds of years.
For more fun in Salzburg and our other favorite spots, views and day trips, visit our ‘Best of’ Salzburg list and Austria page!