Home » Europe » Austria

Festivals in Graz: The Definitive Guide

  • by
Festival Graz: Traditional Fasching Parade on Herrengasse

Are you coming to Graz and are looking for something special to do? We have compiled a list of events and Festivals in Graz you can attend to make your stay that much more fun. Although the year picks up a little slowly with the peak of events in the summer, there is something to do in Graz every year of the week.

Please note: This article appears in paid collaboration with VisitGraz as part of the #GrazAmbassadors project. Of course, this does not affect our opinion. We report our honest experiences without obligations. The article also contains affiliate links. Learn more about them on our Disclosure page.

Graz Festivals in February

1. Faschingsumzug Graz

Have you ever heard of Fasching? Imagine a somewhat simpler, Austrian version of Mardi Gras. It takes place on Shrove Tuesday (which most commonly falls into February), after Rose Monday, to mark the beginning of Lent. It is also called “Fat Tuesday” as sweet and lardy treats cannot be consumed during the following weeks leading up to Easter.

Austrian Pastries: Krapfen

So, if you come to Graz during Fasching, you should definitely treat yourself to a nice Krapfen. The Krapfen has been likened to a stuffed donut and is essentially a ball of fried dough, stuffed with jam and dusted with sugar. You can also find them with more modern fillings such as chocolate, but personally, I just love the classic kind.

You can find some of the best jam Krapfen head to Kristinas Meisterkonditorei on Girardigasse, just around the corner from the opera house. For a large variety of modern Krapfen, head to any of the Sorger bakery outlets around the city.

Fasching parade Graz: People in the main square

The real highlight of Fasching, however, is the Fasching parade, also known as Faschingsumzug. It usually starts around 12:45 and lasts until 14:45. The parade takes place along the main shopping street in Graz, Herrengasse. Be sure to come early if you want to get a good spot – the city swells with people on this day.

If you want to go the extra mile, do dress up! In Austria, people dress up like you would for Halloween.

2. Tuntenball Graz

The Tuntenball in Graz is a beautiful blend of LGBTQ activism, drag extravaganza, and Austrian ballroom culture. Brought into being in 1990 to bring awareness to AIDS victims and provide a platform for LQBTQ rights, it has since become one of the biggest LGBTQ charity events in Europe. The profits support projects of RosaLila PantherInnen, an organization providing continuous support to the community in Graz.

If you would like to attend, bring your biggest outfit and be sure to buy a ticket well in advance!

Graz Festivals in March

1. Elevate Festival Graz

Continuing with social activism, Elevate is an annual event taking place in Graz, dedicated especially to cultural and socio-political topics. As an interdisciplinary festival, it features performances, installations, lectures, DJ sets, and more. Elevate is an eclectic mix of discourse and art.

As it takes place across several venues in Graz, it is easy to attend one event or another. You may also spot installations or performances on the streets of Graz, free of charge! For other events, you may need to buy a ticket beforehand.

Graz Festivals in April

1. Klanglicht Graz

Klanglicht is a festival organized every year by the theaters and stages of Graz. It’s a fascinating combination of light, color, and sound. During the festival, the streets between the city center and Eggenberg Palace are transformed into a treat for eyes and ears. 

The installations can be admired in the late hours of 3 days during April. Best of all – they are completely free!

Graz Festivals in May

1. Graz Design Month

As a UNESCO City of Design, the month of May is almost entirely dedicated to design in Graz. Organized by Creative Industries Styria, the city hosts a number of exhibitions, workshops, and lectures throughout the weeks.

While some events require tickets to be purchased beforehand, many are completely free to attend! Think street fashion markets, design shops turned showrooms, public art installations, and more.

Local partners also come out with special editions of their most popular products. There is design moth ice cream, design month, beer, and even design month bread! A treat for all the senses.

2. GRAZy: Graz Salsa Festival

The Graz Salsa Festival, GRAZy, is a project by local dance school Conny & Dado. In the end of May, you can attend one of their various salsa workshops or seize the night at one of their highly popular parties.

3. International Storytelling Festival Graz: GrazErzählt

The International Storytelling Festival has been around for more than 30 years and takes place in various cities in Austria. The most popular edition, perhaps, is GrazErzählt. While the reading of famous stories is an integral part of the festival, it also brings stories to life through music, dance, acrobatics, and more.

Smaller events take place around the city and some are free to listen in. Just keep an eye open!

4. Lendwirbel

Lendwirbel is a neighborhood festival in the district of Lend. Lend is one of the most diverse districts of Graz and Lendwirbel perfectly reflects the melting pot mentality. It also seeks to bridge the gap between generations, between young and old.

Every year, the festival hosts a number of performances and workshops around the district, especially around Mariahilferplatz and Lendplatz.

Graz Festivals in June

1. Springfestival Graz

Springfestival, usually taking place in the end of June, is the perfect transition into summer. Every year, the festival transforms the city into a mecca of electronic art & music enthusiasts. From concerts, over DJ sets, to interactive installations around the city – it is sure to captivate you.

2. Mountainfilm Graz

Considering it’s Austria, it’s not a big surprise that Graz should host a festival entirely dedicated to mountain- and adventure movies. It spotlights extraordinary achievements in sports, beautiful nature imagery, and a close look at human nature. Many movies are, of course, in German, but if you take a look at their program you can usually find a couple in English or with English subtitles.

3. 15 Seconds Festival

15 Seconds Festival is a festival dedicated to business, innovation, and creativity. Every year it hosts a number of high-profile speakers from companies such as Google, Ikea, and more. You can simply attend the expo, or go more in-depth at workshops, networking sessions, and, of course, keynotes.

4. Styriarte

Styriarte is an annual festival taking place during the summer. Unlike many other festivals in Graz, Styriarte features concerts around historical music, particularly from the Baroque. Concerts take place in various venues around the city, but our personal favorites are the concerts in Eggenberg Palace and the Open Air Museum in Stübing.

5. USI Fest Graz

As the spring semester closes, thousands of students take to the streets of Graz to celebrate late into their well-deserved holiday. Each year, it attracts more than 20,000 people to its 7 open-air locations with over 9,000 m² of space to dance and be merry.

Apart from the parties, an integral part of the festival is the so-called Kleeblatlauf (clover run). This 2.6 km relay race marks the beginning of the festival. Each year, more than 2,000 runners participate.

6. Chiala Africa Festival Graz

For 17 years, the organization Chiala has been putting on the popular Afrika Festival in Graz. At this free event, you can attend live acts by various international artists, workshops, or try some African food and shop at the bazaar.

7. Long Night of Churches

The Long Night of Churches is an Austria-wide festival that opens the country’s churches, abbeys, and cloisters to visitors until the late hours of the night. Those hours are filled with a special program of concerts, readings, guided tours, and more. 

8. Graz River Days

If you know anything about the city, then you know how much the Grazers love their pulsating artery, Mur river. Each year, you can get up and close with the river during the Graz River Days. Go river rafting, Stand up paddling, canoeing, or simply enjoy the view of the cool wet comfortably from the river banks.

9. CSD Parade Graz

Each June, the LGBTQ+ community in Graz celebrates Christopher Street Day with an extravagant parade and a dizzying party to boot. The parade runs from the city center to Volksgartenpark where you can enjoy the after-party.

10. Augartenfest Graz

Beloved by locals for its offbeat character, the Augarten festival has been taking place for 40 years. Starting in the morning with what Austrians call “Frühshoppen” (a kind of brunch that doesn’t necessarily involve food), thousands of people arrive throughout the course of the day to relax and enjoy the good weather together with friends. Pack a picnic blanket and drop by!

Graz Festivals in July

1. La Strada

La Strada is an international festival for street art, puppet theater, new circus, and community art. Every year during the summer, the festival brings life and laughter, inspiration, and awe to the streets of Graz. With over 100,000 annual visitors, it’s one of the most popular festivals in Austria. As an open-air festival, the vast majority of events are absolutely free to attend.

2. Electric Nation Graz

Put on by FM radio channel Kronehit, this electronic music festival is a big hitter, year after year. It attracts EDM legends such as David Guetta and Gigi DÁgostino as well as thousands of EDM fans. Tickets for the main event run about 70 EUR. Tickets for the after-parties are available for about 30 EUR.

3. Graz Jazz Festival: Jazz Sommer

Jazz-Sommer Graz is a multi-week festival that has been hosted in the city since 1998.

Every year the festival has attracted numerous jazz legends and enthusiasts with its open-air locations. 

Insider Tip

In April, you can attend Jazzwerkstatt Graz, a jazz festival dedicated to up-and-coming jazz artists from Austria and abroad.

Graz Festivals in August

1. Metal on the Hill: Graz Metal Festival

What could rock more than a true metal festival set in the ruins of an old castle with a birds-eye view of the city? That’s the promise of Metal in the Hill, a metal festival that has been taking place in Graz since 2016. Early-bird tickets cost about 90 EUR.

2. Food Festival Graz

Relatively new to the festival scene, the Graz Food Festival has still become a favorite among locals. From culinary walks through the city to cooking workshops – it’s a week filled with light-hearted fun. And with more than 25 participating restaurants, you will definitely not go hungry!

3. Latin Live

During the summer, it is almost impossible to escape the rhythmic sounds emitting from Lendplatz. For 10 years, Club Lend has been hosting Latin Live every Wednesday where you can show off your Latino dance moves. Entrance is free, but it does fill up quickly!

4. Long Table of Graz

Not so much a festival perhaps, but rather a humongous get-together, the Long Table of Graz is an open-air dining experience. Graz stands true to its title of “Capital of Delight” with this unique evening of culinary treats when the main square of the city turns into a gigantic dinner banquet. Tickets sell out quickly!

Graz Festivals in September

1. Aufsteirern

Perhaps the biggest event on our list, Aufsteirern takes place every year in September and attracts over 100,000 visitors in just 3 days. It started as a small festival to provide a platform for folk dance, folk music, and Tracht (traditional Austrian garments). In fact, the traditional opening to the festival today is a Tracht fashion show on the main square of Graz. Saturdays see an intriguing crossover between music styles as the Graz Philharmonic Orchestra performs anything between classical and folk music.

Sunday is the biggest day of the festival. Dozens of food stalls serve traditional Austria cuisine, beer is ample, and music is played on almost every corner. On this day, locals come to the city in their traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen so you might want to pick up one yourself!

2. Griesgram

The smaller brother of Lendwirbel, Grieskram, is a neighborhood festival in the district of Gries. As a bottom-up festival, its goal is to include all those living in the district in the planning process.

During the festival, you may stumble upon flea markets, pop up cafes, and various food trucks. You can also attend a guided walking tour through the district or join one of the many workshops.

3. Steirischer Herbst

One more festival dedicated to contemporary art that cannot go unmentioned is Steirischer Herbst. It’s a fine mix of theater, film, sculpture, dance, music, architecture, new media, and anything in between. One of its main characteristics is its productive nature as the festival itself results in new pieces of art rather than just displaying them.

It prides itself in its disruptive and sometimes conflict-producing nature. After all, it has its roots in an opposition to nationalist cultural initiatives that were resurging at the time. Throughout the years, the festival has not shied away from covering difficult and polarizing topics.

Events take place throughout the city and some are free to attend, but may require prior registration.

Graz Festivals in October

1. Graz Truffle Festival

Every autumn, the “City of Delight” suffers from a terrible fever – truffle fever! And how else should it be – after all seven different varieties of truffles can be harvested in the forests in and around Graz, even the much sought-after burgundy truffle.

During the festival, you can attend the truffle market in the city center, join a guided truffle hike, or try a truffle dish in one of many restaurants in the city.

2. Long Night of Museums

Similar to the Long Night of Churches earlier in the year, it is museums that keep their doors open until the late hours of the evening. Virtually all museums participate, many even offering a special program.

A must is a candle-lit guided tour through Eggenberg Palace. Normally, the palace is closed during the winter due to a lack of electricity in the stately rooms. Illuminated by candlelight, seeing these ostentatious halls at night is a true delight.

3. Graz Marathon

Like any other city of its size, Graz also hosts a marathon every year. It’s a spectacle that shuts down a good chunk of the city so do be mindful of that if you’re traveling to Graz in October. The race starts and ends at the opera house which is also a good spot to get a glimpse of the action. If you are planning to participate, please mind that registration ends about 2 weeks prior to the event.

Graz Festivals in November

1. Folk.art Festival Graz

The Folkart Festival in Graz is a festival dedicated to “world music” and folk music from around the world. What makes it special is that apart from common locations, concerts are also played in more unusual venues such as the Graz synagogue. Those who prefer an intimate atmosphere over a big venue should head to Cafe Kaiserfeld for traditional Austrian coffee and music.

Graz Festivals in December

1. Krampuslauf Graz

Krampuslauf is a fixed event in the advent calendar of the city. Hundreds of Krampusse and Perchten roam the streets of the city between 16.00 and 18.00. Apart from the fear factor, its main attraction is the vast collection of 40-year-old costumes and masks. If you want to learn more about the tradition of Krampus, head over to our article about Christmas in Graz.

2. Christmas Markets

To finish off the year, one of the biggest events to take place in Graz is, of course, the Graz Christmas market. In fact, it is not only one market but several. If you want to know more, head over to our article about Christmas in Graz.

About Jacky

Hi there, I'm Jacky. I was born and raised in Austria, but have lived most of my adult life abroad. I'm addicted to all things Nordic, good coffee (sometimes also bad coffee), and beautiful architecture. I love my cats, although my husband Mihir is not too bad either 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.