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What’s open and what’s closed on Ascension Day in Austria?

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
What’s open and what’s closed on Ascension Day in Austria?
People enjoy the weather outside St Charles's Church (Karlskirche) in Vienna, (Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP)

On Thursday it is Ascension Day, or Christi Himmelfahrt in German, one of the many May public holidays this year. Here is what is going on in and around the capital, and what will be closed.


This year, Ascension Day, or Christi Himmelfahrt, a national holiday in Austria, falls on May 9th. Many people working in Austria take the holiday as an opportunity to enjoy a longer weekend by also taking Friday off.

Ascension Day is a Christian celebration that honours the belief that Jesus ascended into heaven. It takes place 40 days after Easter Sunday and always falls on a Thursday. According to Christian tradition, this day signifies the end of Jesus' time on Earth and his return to heaven.

In Austria, Ascension Day is marked by different local traditions. Villages host processions, and in rural areas, people walk through fields during the "days of supplication," usually on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays. These processions have been part of the tradition since the sixth century.

Many churches all over Austria hold special masses to celebrate the day. In some, the occasion is celebrated with a custom where a statue of the resurrected Jesus is pulled through a hole in the ceiling and up into the church's attic.

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What is happening in and around Vienna?

Ascension Day offers a great opportunity to spend some relaxed time with friends and family. If you want to follow tradition, you can enjoy some poultry, which is typical to eat in Austria on this day.

If you live in Vienna, you can spend the holiday exploring some of the events taking place in the city.

The day marks the start of the Steffl Kirchtag festival (May 9th to 20th), held at Stephansplatz in the heart of the city. Here, you can find arts and crafts, stalls offering food and drinks, music, performances, and concerts.

If you want to enjoy some culture, you should check out the many interesting exhibitions and festivals currently happening in Vienna.

For example, the exhibition Smart World at the Vienna Museum of Technology is open for visitors and explores how artificial intelligence is changing our world. The ongoing festival Klima Biennale Wien is also open to the public and focuses on climate change through various exhibitions and performances.

If you are interested in enjoying a musical, the first performance of The Sound of Music at the Vienna Volksoper is scheduled for this day.


You can also celebrate the occasion and the morning off by enjoying the night before at the Gürtel Connection. This event takes place in 14 different bars along the Gurtel, the major avenue surrounding the inner city. The evening offers 50 different gigs and performances and you can spend as much as you like on the entry.

Most bars open their doors around 7pm and you can find out more about the event on their website.

If you instead want to spend time in nature without going too far away from the city, enjoying the day in the Vienna Woods, Wiener Wald, is a great idea. If you want to do some exercise while enjoying great views, you can explore some of the many city hikes, known as Stadtwanderweg, which you can read more about here.  

If you are up for a slightly longer journey, you can reach many interesting places with a short train ride. You can explore some great destinations to visit here.

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What will be closed?

As Ascension Day is a public holiday in Austria, banks, post offices, supermarkets, and general medical practices will be closed. Most pharmacies will also be closed, except for those functioning as emergency pharmacies, which will remain open during the holiday. You can find a list of these pharmacies here.

Hospital emergency departments will be open if you need medical care. Additionally, each region offers a holiday on-call service (Wochenend—und Feiertagsbereitschaftsdienst) if you prefer not to go to the hospital. You can call 141 for medical services during holidays, such as a doctor's visit or to obtain certain medications.


Public Transport

During the holiday, public transport will continue operating in Vienna and all over Austria, although sometimes with a reduced timetable, similar to that on Sundays.

In Vienna, trams, metros, and buses run with slightly reduced timetables. Here you find more information on the timetable for different lines, click here.

Mainline train services often run with a near-normal timetable. You can check out the timetable for ÖBB here.

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