Many events in Austria and Switzerland are often pretty much unknown by tourists. While major towns like Vienna, Salzburg or Hallstatt in Austria, as well as Zurich, Geneva, Interlaken or Lucerne in Switzerland are overcrowded, the beauty of both countries, as well as the whole Alps region, often lies in its small towns, hidden valleys, and the Alps’ spectacular mountain ranges.
We have therefore gathered the top ten best family events in Austria and Switzerland – not just in the main cities – but often in smaller towns that you might not have heard of before.
The Best Family Events in Austria
Kufstein Easter Market (April)
Traditionally, the famous mountain resort town Kufstein hosts one of the most captivating easter events in all of Austria. While the smallest travelers can do pictorials with easter bunnies, eat cotton candy, or decorate eggs vividly, the adults may enjoy demonstrations of old crafts or delve into specialties from the Tyrol region. Don’t forget to sample a regional delicacy called ‘kiachl’, a deep-fried pastry with powdered sugar. The fair in Kufstein lasts for 2 days.
Where to stay during Kufstein Easter Market?
Some of the benefits of staying in Hotel Gisela are its location right in Kufstein’s center and the presence of family rooms. Enjoy a private en-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries and a TV with satellite channels. Upon request, a cot is available for babies and toddlers.
Long Table of Graz (August)
Every August, Graz’s atmospheric Old Town is the decor for an incredible food fest with 750 people. The central square, surrounded by picturesque plastered houses, is covered with long tables full of regional delicacies and wines. It’s an amazing way to interact with locals and other travelers, and the live music performances make this food-lovers event even better. With the stunning town hall and the Schlossberg (Castle Hill) as a backdrop, this is probably one of the most scenic spots you’ll ever eat at.
Where to stay during Long Table of Graz?
The family rooms here sleep up to 4 guests. This hotel is a perfect choice if you’re traveling by train, as the central station is only a 5-minute walk away. A buffet breakfast is available to fuel your day for exploring Graz.
The modest town of Weiz transforms into a massive food fair once a year. Weiz, situated 30 kilometers northeast of Graz, hosts over 50 food producers during this event, with plenty of delicacies to taste for the entire family. Other than the low-fat roasted pork this festival got its name from, you can sample local wines and fruit juices. For visitor’s entertainment, folk music groups perform during this annual event. The kids can amuse themselves in the playground or get face paints.
Where to stay during Mulbratlfest?
A beautifully designed hotel with quadruple rooms, a bowling alley, and a bar for post-dinner drinks. There’s also a playing area for the kids, with slides and a balance beam. Included in the room rate is an impressive breakfast buffet spread, served in the spacious dining area.
Vienna Classic Days (August)
If you’re into classic cars, the Vienna Classic Days in the Austrian capital should be a part of your travel itinerary. Vienna turns into an outdoor car museum, as 250 vehicles gather in the city. The highlight of this yearly event is the parade, during which you can watch the historic cars driving through Vienna’s center. During the ‘oldtimer picnic’ in the Donaupark, you can see all of the vehicles and take your time for photographs. The Vienna Classic Days are a must-visit for any car enthusiast.
Where to stay during Vienna Classic Days?
Reside in a comfortable apartment, fitted with a fully-equipped kitchen, flatscreen TV with sound system, and a coffee machine to start the day well. These apartments are based near the Inner City district, with museums and parks all within walking distance.
Innsbruck Christmas Market (November – January)
Heaps of towns in Austria host a Christmas market, but the one in Innsbruck is recognized as one of the most atmospheric and largest in the country. This charming city, sandwiched between snow-capped mountains, actually has several markets during this period. The most significant one is the Old Town Christmas Market, where a massive collection of stalls and stages sell handicrafts and perform traditional storytelling. To stay warm during the chilly winter days, have some comforting mulled wine and kiachl pastries. The Maria Theresien Straße and the Marktplatz are other sweet places to experience the Christmas vibes.
Where to stay during Innsbruck Christmas Market?
Suites provide guests with mountain views, a TV with streaming services, and a separate seating area for family time. The hotel has a common area with books and snuggly sofas, perfect for some downtime. Other perks from this property are the sumptuous buffet breakfast, a gym, and a superb location.
Check out our exclusive listing of the famous Kinderhotels in Austria.
The Best Family Events in Switzerland
Harder Potschete Interlaken (January)
The Harder Potschete festival in the town of Interlaken has roots deep in local folklore. An old story narrates about the Hardermannli – a man and his family from the nearby Harder Kulm mountain top – who haunted the city of Interlaken and brought dread to the streets. This event is all about the procession, with fantastic masks and dresses that depict the evil family from the mountain. The restaurants and bars are jam-packed during the Harder Potschete, so don’t hesitate to mingle with the crowds in a local pub.
Where to stay during Harder Potschete Interlaken?
Not only does this hotel have hostel-style family rooms with bunk beds and a dining table. It also has an outdoor terrace and an on-site restaurant and bar. Downtown Family & Friends sits right beside the Interlaken West train station.
Lucerne Carnival (February)
For six days straight, Lucerne is converted into a massive fantasy world full of trolls and other imaginary creatures. The carnival, locally called Fasnacht, is the most significant event in this city, and it attracts thousands of visitors each year. After a kick-off with fireworks on the river Reuss, the carnival groups and bands take over the city with musical performances, creative costumes, and exciting parades. The children can have their faces painted and take selfies with dragons, astronauts, and many other figures.
Where to stay during Lucerne Carnival?
With the train station, the river, and a selection of restaurants all within close proximity, Cascada Boutique Hotel is an excellent base to explore the carnival. The hotel offers family rooms and a generous breakfast to start the day with an energy boost.
Cheese Festival Gruyères (May)
Gruyère has spread across the world, but what’s better than discovering the cradle of this delicate cheese? Gruyères welcomes visitors each year for their Cheese Festival. In a wondrous decor of alpine valleys and a medieval castle, this event’s highlight is obviously tasting the many varieties of this fabled cheese. Other than snacking all-day, you can witness the traditional cheese-making process and watch alpenhorn performances.
Where to stay during Cheese Festival Gruyères?
This charming and family-friendly hotel is situated right in the center of Gruyères on Rue du Bourg on the way to popular Gruyères Castle. The hotel is known for its fine dining with renowned regional specialties like Gruyère quiche, raclette, and fondue which are served at the restaurant. The hotel serves a very good breakfast and has free private parking.
Schweizer Schlössertag (October)
During the Schweizer Schlössertag (Swiss Castle Days), numerous fortresses all over the country open their gates to the public. This event exists since 2016 and enables visitors to see some legendary castles from the inside and relive the medieval days. Some of the activities include shooting bow and arrows, traditional cooking sessions, historical exhibitions, weaponry demonstrations, and stalls with traditional handicrafts for sale. Schloss Waldegg, Castelli di Bellinzona, and Château de Chillon are some gorgeous examples of strongholds that hosted people at the Schweizer Schlössertag over the last editions.
Where to stay during Schweizer Schlössertag?
To visit several castles in one day, a convenient location is a requirement. From Bern, 6 castles can be easily reached, making this city a fabulous base for exploring. Boutique Hotel Belle Epoque is a unique spot in the center to find total tranquility. The family suites are fitted with a bathtub, a coffee machine, and they offer fantastic city views. Cots and extra beds are also available.
AlpKultur Festival (October)
The AlpKultur Festival celebrates the culture and folklore of rural Switzerland for 14 days in a row. At this event, some of the key characters are Simmentaler cows, who star in beauty pageants and walk around with vivid flowers on their heads. Furthermore, it’s fun to watch a game of hornussen – farmer’s golf – or to join a cooking competition. For children, the tasting of local products at the farmer’s market and the cow parades are quite entertaining. The AlpKultur Festival takes place in the southern Swiss municipality of Lenk im Simmental.
Where to stay during AlpKultur Festival?
Thanks to an extensive breakfast buffet, you’re off to an excellent start to the day in this hotel in Lenk’s heart. Their junior suites sleep up to 3 people, but you can ask the staff for a cot or extra bed. Because of the central location, you’ll be close to the festivities.
Planning a trip in winter? Check out our guide to the Ultimate Family Ski Trip in Europe.