Wörthersee Seasons, Events & a Legend

The main season for tourism at Lake Wörthersee are the summer months - June, July, August, with increasing intensity. In addition, there are several events and festivals partly off-season that are nationally or even internationally known. In spring, the "Wörthersee Autofrei" ("car-free Wörthersee") is a day on which major roads around the lake are reserved for cyclists, inline-skaters and other non-motorised vehicles. In a way, the opposite event takes place a few weeks later: The "GTI Treffen" is a gathering of rowdy working-class Golf GTI drivers, showing off their tuned and pimped cars and consuming a great deal of beer.

The "Ironman Austria" is a triathlon that takes place in early July, usually with nation-wide attention. During the summer, Klagenfurt maintains a floating stage used musical performances and respectable concerts. In July or August, the "Beachvolleyball Grand Slam" competition takes place in Klagenfurt. Another event at this time is the "Fete blanche" in Velden and Pörtschach, modelled after a similar event from Paris and ideal for the new-money and wannabes that the Wörthersee attracts during the summer.

There is a nice legend that gives an explanation for how the Wörthersee developed - it doesn′t need any glaciers or ice ages, the tale centres on the "Wörthersee-Mandl", which I find quite exciting (note that my surname is Mandl). According to this legend, once upon a time, a prosperous town could be found in the area of today′s lake. It was famous for its wealth in all of Carinthia and beyond; but the money corrupted the people (this could be said about the summer-residents of today′s Lake Wörthersee, really). One year before Easter, they celebrated an excessive party on the eve of Good Friday.

Lake Wörthersee, Carinthia: The Making Of

There was beer, music and women and all that; suddenly, just before midnight, the door opened and a little man stepped inside. "Mandl", by the way, means "little man" (I hereby declare to be 190 cm tall and thus do not qualify as a little man despite of my somewhat misleading surname). The little man reminded the celebrants of the sacred occasion and warned them of a terrible penalty for their deed. Everybody laughed at him. A little while later, he returned with a little barrel under his arm.

Once again, he warned the celebrants to stop the party - or otherwise, he would open the tap of the barrel and the punishment would emerge from it. As before, nobody took him seriously (as it goes with little men). Then at midnight, the church bell indicated the day; the good Catholics among my readers might now say: Wait! Church bells don′t ring during the Holy Week until resurrection service on Saturday, certainly not on Good Friday! I can only refer to the fact that this is a legend only and that in doubt, you might rather look into the natural history of the last ice age to learn about the actual creation of Lake Wörthersee.

Anyway, at midnight, a thunderstorm broke out with heavy rain. When the party people looked around, they saw that the little barrel was at the centre of the room, open, and that more and more water was pouring out of it. Try tried to block it, but couldn′t. Soon the house was flooded, then the town, by the end of Easter all of the valley had disappeared under water. This is how Lake Wörthersee suddenly emerged - and why there are still churches, palaces and piazzas on its ground (there aren′t really). Compare this legend with the one of the "Übergossene Alm" from Dienten am Hochkönig, which is suspiciously similar. Today, there is a nice little well at the centre of Klagenfurt that depicts the Wörthersee-Mandl with his little barrel.

Return to "Wörthersee, Part I"

Back to: "Carinthia Sightseeing Guide"

Sightseeing by Austrian Province

Bregenz and Vorarlberg - Innsbruck and Tyrol - Salzburg - Salzkammergut - Graz and Styria - Klagenfurt and Carinthia - Wachau and Lower Austria - Vienna - Burgenland

Further Reading

Official Website of the Wörthersee Region

Wikipedia on the Wörthersee in Carinthia

Official Website of Carinthia