Vienna in May ("Mai")
Vienna is a diverse and colourful place full of life; there are different things to see, places to go and stuff to do in different times of the year. In this set of articles, I will highlight the best seasonal events of each month. May is - in my humble opinion - the best month to travel to Vienna; if not the best month to travel anywhere in Austria. The weather is sunny and warm, but not too hot; the worst of the crowds of tourists is still to come and the country is in full bloom. Almost all tourist attractions (even those that locals wouldn′t go to) are open in May.
Weather in Vienna in May
Weather-wise, May is one of the most stable months in Vienna. It rains relatively little, temperatures are pleasant and warm, and the sun shines a lot. That being said, do bring clothing that protects you from rain or take an umbrella. The average daily maximum temperature climbs an impressive 19 degrees Celsius (this would be called summer in Salzburg) and the minimum average to a bearable 10 degrees.
Expect an impressive seven hours of sunshine every day and eight days with rain over the course of May. Over-all, dress in layers; you will need a warm pullover or a jacket for the mornings and evenings, as well as for rainy days; on sunny days, however, short sleeves will do.
Things to See & Do in Vienna: May
First of May is the "Day of Labour"; this is the year′s highest holiday for die-hard Socialists, Marxists, Trotzkinists, Leninists and other left-wing creatures, of which Vienna still has plenty. They creep out of their holes and gather on the Rathausplatz, the square in front of the City Hall, and demonstrate against the current government (usually), capitalism and the exploitation of the proletariat.
The hardcore lefties are joint by vast numbers of moderate ones, rounded up by the Social Democrats, who seem to have a monopoly for ruling Vienna since the end of WWII. For tourists, this is all fun to watch; the whole thing ends with concerts and BBQs next to the Burgtheater (in front of the Social Democrats′ national headquarter) and a fun fair in the Prater. Whilst this whole event might seem highly bizarre to foreigners, I urgently recommend you to read my articles on the history of Austria or - even better - a proper textbook on Austria′s past to fully comprehend the standing of left-wing activists in the Austrian capital.
In mid-May, the "Wiener Festwochen" begin, a series of concerts and music performances that last for about five weeks. They target mostly a local audience and start with a public performance usually on the Michaelerplatz Square. This is only one of several festivals - May is a fair month and popular for all sorts of events.
The Life Ball is a counter-point to the Opera Ball, more a wild, queer party, a charity event for aids patients and popular with the gay scene of Europe. In terms of revenue, it rivals the Opera Ball. Held in late May.
Things to Do & See in Vienna′s Surroundings: May
The first of May is celebrated rather differently in smaller communities compared to Vienna: In almost all municipalities throughout Austria, a gigantic maypole (Maibaum) is erected in a phallically inspired ceremony. This is normally accompanies by people in traditional costume and the consumption of vast quantities of beer. May also attracts lots of birdwatchers, who use the fair weather to go to the Burgenland for a day or two.
It is the time of the great bustard′s courtship and all sorts of other birds can be observed in the mild climate of the Burgenland, which is usually a month ahead of the rest of Austria in terms of weather. The Vienna woods and other day-trip destinations around Vienna are ways nice in May and if you aim a bit further, you can go to Krems in the Wachau: Here a music festival dedicated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is staged in May.
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