The Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt – the largest and oldest regional festival in lower Carinthia – has been held since 1393 and will take place this year from Fri, 1 to Mon, 4 September 2023.

99 years before the discovery of America

In order to promote the development of the town of Bleiburg, which was in great economic distress after severe devastation, Duke Albrecht granted the right to hold a Wiesenmarkt (meadow market) on 16 March 1393, which had to take place on 15 August.

The first markets already brought great disputes, so that on 10 September 1393 a town judge was elected to settle the disputes.
The most important town judge was Hanns Katschnik, who in 1428 drew up a contract between the town of Bleiburg and the respective owner of the meadow regarding the right of use, which is still valid today. This contract is one of the oldest legal customs in Europe that is still valid today!

Every year since then, representatives of the town have presented the owner of the meadow with a red velvet bag containing 2 lots (old unit of measurement) of nutmeg and cloves as well as the smallest coins in circulation, in recognition of the right to use the meadow.

As a sign of the market, the “Freyung” is erected every year, a long decorated pole to which an arm with a sword is attached, as a sign visible from afar that the dukes’ authority watches over the observance of the market rules and punishes anyone who contravenes them.
Since 1994, the Freyung has been placed at Kiki Kogelnik’s Freyungsbrunnen on Bleiburg’s main square.

The market soon became the largest cattle market in Lower Carinthia and traders and buyers from Carinthia, Styria, Carniola and even Italy came to this market, which played such an important role in Bleiburg’s economy.

For many people, the market was the only opportunity to purchase certain goods during the year, and so the year’s requirements of clothing, crockery, tools etc. were often bought at the Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt.

Until 1842, the Wiesenmarkt was held without interruption on 15 August each year. But on 22 July 1842 Emperor Ferdinand I fulfilled a long-awaited wish of the citizens and moved the Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt to the Monday to or after Egyd (1 September).

Since then, the Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt has always been held at the beginning of September.
Year after year, the market has become larger and more important, so that in 2023, over 300 traders and showmen will once again be taking part in the market events.

Throughout its history, the Wiesenmarkt has also become more and more of a social event that brings people together.

The many marquees of the local gastronomy are popular meeting places and the large amusement park attracts more and more people to Bleiburg.
According to conservative estimates, over 100,000 visitors attend the Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt every year.

The Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt is organised by the city municipality of Bleiburg. The political responsibility lies with mayor and market representative Stefan Visotschnig. He is assisted by the team of the city municipality of Bleiburg, with market master Arthur Ottowitz, who has been in charge of organising the Wiesenmarkt since 1995.

In 1393 (99 years before the discovery of America) the first Bleiburg meadow market was held, and it has always exerted its fascination on people.

Over the centuries, of course, it has often changed its appearance and adapted to the times, but it has always been a place where people came together peacefully to do business and celebrate together.

Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt 2023

When an event looks back on over 600 years of tradition, it is not necessary to “invent” something new every year.

The real sensation of the Bleiburger Wiesenmarkt is not the “unprecedented”, the “mega-event” that can no longer be surpassed, but the fact that for 630 (!) years people have come together at the same time and place every year (with the exception of 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID 19 pandemic) to trade and celebrate together!

However, in order to keep up with the times, it is necessary to constantly make small adaptations, present innovations in the amusement park and in the various market stalls, make improvements to the infrastructure, etc.