Summer Solstice in the Wachau Valley

Wachau Valley is in Lower Austria, about 100 km from Vienna, along the left bank of the Danube from Melk to Krems. UNESCO’s Heritage Site, we can find in Wachau many small towns with a clear vocation for wine, mostly white. Some weekends a year they organize days of tasting local wines, for a reasonable price. Is a great opportunity to visit the area and chat with the locals.

Around the summer solstice (always on Saturday night) they celebrate the arrival of summer with the endless light of torches decorating its hills of vineyards and dozens of bonfires on the shore River. They organized a series of cruises on the Danube in medium-sized vessels, which in the early hours of the night, still with some light, stretching back to the river for about 40 km while having dinner with typical food of the area.

When night falls, the descent begins and when the ships cross the villages, fireworks are organized in the major monuments (castles, churches). The vineyards overlooking the river are full of torches, what makes a very unique and bucolic image. In Durnstein, with the blue tower of the collegiate characteristic, we can see the old castle where  Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. A delicate line of torches lit the night, and the magic silhouette of the tower is covered by a cascade of fire and light.

In some ships, the local people dress in traditional costumes and celebrate the event.

In general the people of Wachau are friendly and eager to spend time with their neighbors and outsiders who come to know its nice villages and test their wines. It is not strange the general desire to organise parties after the long winters in these parts of central Europe. Normally by June, the summer has arrived in Austria, which is not the case in 2010, where that night rained hard and the temperature was closer to winter one.

Some more photos of the event:

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