A festive atmosphere and an autumnal explosion of colour
The city finally gets to breathe out again at the end of the summer. The tense excitement of the annual Salzburg Festival has dissipated at last. The days have begun to shorten, the light has softened and the colours have intensified. The mornings and evenings can be crisp, even though daytime temperatures are still pleasantly warm. At the end of August people begin to talk of the traditional ‘old women’s’ Indian summer (Altweibasommer). Reference is made to the spiders’ webs that create a mystical atmosphere in the autumnal light of the parks.
Although there are still plenty of short-stay guests in the town, the place is far quieter again. The schools go back at the start of September in Salzburg, and the new seasons are ready to begin in the theatres and concert halls. The magic that accompanies the new start is in the air. The locals take over ‘their’ city and begin to lead their everyday lives once again.
This is the time of the harvest festival festivities and of the fairgrounds still commonly held in the strongly traditional, rural areas around Salzburg. Large markets have always been held in the autumn and historically they were used to stage celebrations, to negotiate, to make contacts and meet potential partners. Little has changed, as can be seen at the Rupertikirtag around the 24th September. Saint Rupert is the patron saint of Salzburg county, children have time off school and the whole of Salzburg is on its feet for a visit to the Rupertikirtag fairground in the old town of Salzburg. The nostalgic rides have remained the same for decades, and many people gather here in their typical, traditional Tracht clothing: Dirndlkleid for women and Lederhosen for men.
Another special seasonal event every September is the traditional ‘Almabkehr’: Salzburg’s Almkanal is an artificially-built channel for the water that flows from the Berchtesgadener Königsseeache into the heart of the city. Built in 1150 the centrepiece of the preserved construction is the ‘Stiftsarmstollen’ cave that runs below the surface and through the Mönchsberg. It is the oldest water supply cave in central Europe. It has been providing water to the city for over 860 years. Every September, the water is let out for cleaning purposes and those who wish can enjoy a guided tour of the cave.
October is often a golden month as a stable high-pressure zone at this time of year provides lots of sunlight and pleasant temperatures. It’s the best time of year for hikes and treks, and the season heralds some marvellous changes in the colouration of the town. Autumn storms whip up the leaves up and down the stony lanes, as kids rejoice at the waxy horse chestnuts they find. The parks outside Salzburg Congress also change their colours and shapes. The dense canopies of the sycamore trees in the Kurgarten park begin to thin out and take on seasonal reds, browns and yellows. Even the hustle and bustle in the streets and lanes of the old town has faded away. The fountains are boarded up and the roadside patios have all been packed away for the winter. On the 26th October it’s not unheard of for the first snowstorm to find its way into the town on Austria’s National Liberation Day – but it’s an eventuality the city is well prepared for, since all the lifting, gritting and snow-clearing vehicles in the city are serviced for the winter months in the middle of October.