Things to do in Graz for culture lovers

Admire the view over a red-roofed Medieval town, climb up to the historic clocktower on the hill and explore inside the curvaceous modern art museum that has been adopted as a ‘Friendly Alien’ – these are just a few of the things to do in Graz for culture lovers. Of course the historic city centre and the Schlossberg fortress stood here for centuries, but the declaration of Graz as European City of Culture in 2013 has firmly established the city as a destination for culture lovers. The building of the Kusthaus Graz and the Murinsel were just a few of the projects that helped to rejuvenate parts of the city and provide a hip and trendy edge to this cultural capital of Austria.

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The Styriarte festival in Graz

One of the Graz cultural events that stands out is the Styriarte Arts Festival, with classical music concerts throughout June and July each year. The festival was founded in 1985 by composer Nikolaus Harnoncourt who was born in Graz and the concerts take place not only in the concert hall of Helmut Liste Halle but in beautiful churches and castles around the city. The Styriarte programme is now available for summer 2018, so it’s well worth booking for some of the concerts and arranging your visit to Graz to coincide with the Styriarte festival in June and July.


La Margarita ballet in Graz Photo: Styriarte

During our visit to Graz in July, we spent a magical evening at La Margarita horse ballet and baroque opera at Schloss Schiellieten outside Graz. The horse ballet was a recreation of the celebrations in 1677 that Emperor Leopold I arranged in honour of his marriage to Infanta Margarita Teresa, daughter of the King of Spain. The evening started with an aperitif on the lawns in front of Schloss Schiellieten and a delicious meal in the marquee behind the house, before we took our seats by the arena for the performance.

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Styriarte La Margarita in Graz

Styriarte La Margarita in Graz

The baroque opera telling the classical tale of Heracles and the golden apple was interwoven with the horse ballet, representing the conflicting armies and the daughters of the king with their long flowing hair and flower garlands. It was a truly unique performance in a gorgeous setting that left us wondering at the skill of the riders and the precise movements of the horses performing their ballet.


Styriarte La Margarita ballet in Graz Photo: Styriarte

A look at the video below will give you a taste of the performance of La Margarita. While this was a one off event, there are sure to be some performances in the 2018 Styriarte Arts Festival in Graz that are equally enjoyable.