In alpine catholic countries, “Kirchtag” is the feast of the patron saint of a village’s or town’s main church. Normally that is a local feast only, as every place has their own Kirchtag and they all are more or less the same.
Music, dancing, drinking, all that for a day and then it’s over.
Not so in Villach. Villach celebrates its Kirchtag for a whole week, and people from all of Austria, some from Slovenia and finally many, many Italians come to participate.
Villach’s Kirchtag is a week-long celebration of traditional costumes, and while it is similar in many ways to Munich’s Oktoberfest, it is also very different, because it happens simultaneuosly throughout the city’s center. It is woven into Villach’s fabric, while Oktoberfest is more or less confined to a special place called “Wiesn”.
Villach’s Kirchtag is commercialized as well, but in a more amateurish way and at the same time with broader popular partizipation. It is quite normal for Villach’s natives to go to work in traditional dresses for the whole week, and after work to go into the center for the feast, throughout the week as well. I always joke that you have to be born here to understand it 🙂