[BREAKING NEWS: VIENNA WALKING WEEK 2021: 30jul-6aug. Save the date, take time off work, invite your friends]
2020 seems to have been cancelled. No Olympics, Cannes Festival, football or lectures. But we are rebellious optimists and have decided to launch an event, to offer hope and good news. In every crisis lies an opportunity. We wanna go viral with this! In response to Corona, with international tourism in lockdown, and few choices for the Viennese to leave the country, we want to show there is no need to leave the city in search of that exotic, new feeling of being somewhere different.
space and place will try something new in July, creating a week where the Viennese can experience their own city as a holiday destination, full of adventures, new perspectives, beauty and relaxation.
So why do people travel? We go away to refresh, relax, swim and empty our minds of stress. We seek the glamorous and exotic, where we can take pictures to post on Instagram. People try to escape the routine of waking at the usual time, doing the cleaning or cooking. We want new experiences, to meet different people, try other food, music, architecture or language.
We offer all of that in our week of Wien adventures, that demonstrate how un-Vienna this city can get. We will show how unnecessary it is to face the hassle of airplanes, the ecological consequences of travel, or the expense of being so far from home. This city always was diverse and multi-layered.
If you like our project, please support it by voting in the Creatives for Vienna competition from Vienna Business Agency, which is looking for the most creative responses to Corona. https://wirtschaftsagentur.at/creative-industries/wettbewerbe/creatives-for-vienna/praemierte-ideen/vienna-walking-week-935/
So what are we offering in out Walking Week? 12 completely new tours, plus two you may not have tried yet. And a party with lots of new faces, in an unusual setting. Also a walk-to-work day, to encourage more people to take time to enjoy the potential in their everyday. Many of these are new concepts for the city of Wien, not just space and place. We see our project as philosophical, as well as enjoyable. Tour themes include wine, feminism, smart cities, brick architecture, the midnight city, human rights, crazy churches, Italian influence here, taboo subjects, political geography, ImpulsTanz, and the fast-developing Favoriten district.
Sun 26 July: church 10:30-16:30
For those of you sceptical that Vienna can be different or alternative enough, please enjoy some of the ideas on this special website produced by Wien Tourismus. It is useful to remember that Vienna is the eighth most-visited city in Europe, and travellers pay a lot of money to come and visit our beautiful home. And yet many locals leave the city not just in August, but almost every weekend, preferring nature to the splendid architecture, huge green spaces and culture programme of our shared Heimat. We are lucky enough to live here, and that is the theme of our walking week: tourism for locals, and celebrating the city. It is a cliché to go abroad in summer, and we should avoid cliches.
Everybody who has been on one of space and place’s tours will know that we remain critical, and use humour to make some serious points about ways in which life in Vienna could be improved, and also about the way the city is perceived internationally. We want to celebrate the city in all its modern complexity.
Another aim is to show to Viennese what travel means. Many locals have a prejudiced attitude to tourists, seeing them as a banal mass to be avoided. You could stand for a week with a map in your hand here, and nobody would ask you what you are looking for. And yet tourists are us: we all travel, and want to be treated with respect and meet locals when we visit other cities. And what is the difference between visitors and Viennese? The tourists are happy to be here!
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So why have we chosen the last week of July to make such an event? Why not in June, when school- and university- students and politicians are still in the city? Precisely because we love that late summer, dreamy feeling, and find that the space and time available in the warmer days is something special. Why is it that people stop thinking in summer, preferring trashy novels, films and sport? It is worth remembering that there is no day in the year when fewer than half of residents are here, so we should provide entertainment and a chance to connect with others in summer, when the city looks and feels its best. Less focus on June and September, and more on July and August. It is bad for the economy if people earn money here, and then spend it in Semmering (or indeed in Jesolo). It is also bad for the social and ecological life of our city, that people are missing from the city, and use so much energy to travel to other places far away. Vienna is now a 4.5 days a week city, and a 10 months per year city, but should aim to be a 7-day and 12-month, full-time urban Metropolis. Exploring the city is much more fun in summer than winter.
A second element of our week of events, apart from #TourismForLocals, is why we should all walk more. Exploring the city on foot is often neglected by residents, but once we go on holiday, people will often enjoy walking all day, around a new city or up a mountain. Why is it that we enjoy walking only when away from home? Maybe because it is so easy in Vienna, that we just don’t notice we are doing it? Or that it is free, and therefore undervalued? It is certainly not boring, with so much to look at in our beautiful city. We will show what walking means, for mental health, for building community, for physical health, for the ecological health of the planet, and also, less well-known, for developing creative ideas and supporting the local economy. Or are we all too busy and stressed to walk?
Let’s look at a few reasons why people choose not to walk – they see it as slow, unhealthy, or that the weather is a problem. If you check an app, Vienna is a dense city and you can walk right across it in around 4 hours. Most distances can comfortably be covered on foot, but more importantly, walking is a way to prepare for meetings, develop ideas or solve problems. Once you see it as a way to work more creatively – that walking is working – then walking is not the slowest way through the city, but the most productive. Walking is far from unhealthy. Car drivers face much more pollution than walkers, since we know shorter ways through the city, far away from angry traffic. It refreshes your head, and brings both air into your lungs, and blood circulating around your brain. Which produces more ideas. And it is the most social way to get between meetings, or to university.
And we are going to hit the city hard this July! Those of you who join us for all 14 walks will cover more than 120km, and really belong to the city like nobody else in summer 2020. The only four Districts we will not be visiting are Meidling, Hietzing, Hernals and Währing. We will cover those four next year, we promise.
The title Walking Week riffs on working week, the concept of Monday-Friday, and we try to replace that with something more fun, colourful and wild. We will show you the city from new angles, & get lots of local people – all different kinds of residents – to join us on our adventures. Plus some visitors and media. Most events are auf Deutsch, to reach the maximum audience, but a few will be in English, to add the exotic, including an English lesson as walk, for students, children, and others.
The City of Vienna has a new tourism strategy, which will focus less on the number of people who come to visit us, but the value each one brings to the city. So Vienna will not attract any more budget airlines, or promote itself at mass tourism events, place new restrictions on Airbnb and generally promote itself more with culture than parties.
71 million people landed or took off from Wien Schwechat airport in 2019. This is a catastrophic number, in a city of just 1.9 million residents. It is decadent and completely unsustainable. We must change our lifestyle dramatically. Tourism is responsible for 5% of global CO2 emissions (hotels, cruise ships, rental cars, buses, planes) and that number is growing fast. Unlike food or clothing, travel is not a basic right we all need. Can we re-think the concept? Coronavirus would not have spread around the world so fast without intercontinental air travel. Visitors seek experiences which are authentic, local and unique. Surely the Viennese can also enjoy all of these features?
We encourage you to take that week off work, and join us in a new exploration of our exotic hometown. You will save a lot of money, live a more ecological summer holiday, have many more relevant stories to tell friends when you return to work, and best of all, know your city much better than before. This is an experiment, and as some of you know, Wien is not the easiest town to launch new projects – the people are not always looking for the latest hype and innovation. So we appreciate any help you can offer in spreading news about this exciting new event. Please tell your friends and colleagues who might enjoy this summer adventure. We will bring an engaged group of Viennese together in discussion, exploration and joy.
Geh Bitte! #TourismForLocals
Cost contribution per event €10, or €50 for all 14 walks.
The party is free.