So your off to Ars Electronica festival for the first time? Awesome! After our first time at the festival my wife and I have decided to try and make it an annual pilgrimage to this technology festival in the small town of Linz that has been running since 1979.
If you have never been there might be a few little tips that could help out. This is by no means a definitive or official guide, more just some things we found that we really enjoyed and a few things we wish we knew before we got there! - Thanks to Elise who sent me some great tips.
The main venue PostCity (right near the main train station) holds the bulk of the festival and can get very busy on the weekend. It’s pretty chilled on the first day (in our case a Thursday) and a ghost-town on the last day (a Monday for us). You might wanna check out other stuff on the busy weekend days.
If it’s a sunny day have a beer outside at Paul's restaurant next to St. Mary’s cathedral, which is also a venue and will probably have some trippy projection in there.
The tram is free with your festival pass! It says this in the program but we didnt realise till 2 days in!
Walked around all day and now its 11pm and you haven’t had dinner? Gelbes Krokodil is a great cafe in the middle of town open till 1am.
Speaking of cafe’s there are heaps in the main square, we had breakfast at The Bruchner and it was delicious… Also the cafe on the water next to the Lentos Museum is great for a long breakfast.
Ok this is a really specific one, the concerts held at PostCity most nights are great and weird, best seat? next to the sound desk! Get in a little early and you’ve got the best seat in the house!
If you are heading out to the Bruchner University for some talks or sounds demos consider taking the number 50 tram all the way to the end of the line afterwards and have a fancy dinner at Pöstlingberg Schlössl (you’ll need to book). you’ll see an amazing panorama of Linz.
Talking about views be sure to take a walk on the rooftops above the OK Centre (near Krokodil). You’ll walk over a series of buildings and can climb a tower to get a 360 view. Then find the swings near the rooftop waterpark, great place to rest up and plan the rest of the day.
The big festival extravaganza on the river is PACKED!!! Next time we would be sure to get there hours before it started (maybe bring some lunch). But if you, like us, just happen to see it and run down squeezing through the crowds just keep going, your best bet is to walk past the Lentos gallery and get closer to the Brucknerhouse where you should be able to see a bit more.
Check out the best of 8K session at Ars Electronica centre (on most days) then check out the lab downstairs where you can try out some VR.
There is so much more to discover at the festival and you will probably always feel like you missed something! One last thing, if you have time before or after the festival I can recommend getting a boat down the Danube from Melk to Spitz and spend a couple of days in the Wachau Valley (we stayed in a small town called St Michael). Hire some bikes (you can use an app called ‘nextbike’ to find and hire one) and ride from Spitz to Weißenkirchen or further if your feeling fit. You’ll wind through old towns and vineyards with plenty of places to stop for a Reisling or two.
I hope this is helpful, if you have any questions feel free to ask and add anything that you’ve discovered at Ars Electronica.