Discover the Merano Grape Festival: A Sweet Harvest Celebration in the Alps


Kate + Vin

Merano Grape Festival (Traubenfest Meran)
sudtirol vineyard icon 1

For those who think they know how to revel in autumn, think again. Discover why the Merano Grape Festival is the must-attend harvest celebration of the Alps.

If we were to pick one season to visit South Tyrol it would be autumn. Fall stamps a mountain-size exclamation point on all the enchanting elements that make this corner of Italy so alluring.

From the blazing foliage setting the mountainsides afire to the blissful fragrance of pluck-ready fruit perfuming the trails, the hand of autumn beautifies South Tyrol’s scenery more than any other season.

But do you know what we love even more than the pronounced natural beauty? It’s the people. More than any other season, autumn enlivens the festive spirit of South Tyroleans. It seems to rise with every fallen leaf. The crisp fall air magically manifests a celebratory frenzy that’s as infectious as it is invigorating.

merano grape festival traubenfest meran festa dell uva

Whether feasting your heart out in a timbered Buschenschank during Törggelen, relishing the best-smoked ham in the world beneath the thundering drama of the Dolomites or indulging in a bounty of other harvest festivals such as Almabtrieb, a visit in fall leaves you with one impression above all: the people of South Tyrol know how to throw a party.


This jovial nature was never more apparent to us than when we attended the annual Merano Grape Festival (also known as Traubenfest Meran and Festa dell’Uva Merano). In this post, we show you why experiencing the revelry of South Tyrol’s grandest fest is a must.

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History of the Merano Grape Festival

Traubenfest Meran

The Merano Grape Festival is the oldest harvest festival in South Tyrol. The celebration has a vibrant history dating back more than 130 years.

Each year since 1886, South Tyroleans have gathered the third weekend in October in Merano to salute a bountiful grape harvest. Over the course of three days, the city comes alive with traditional music, food and drink entwined with the fascinating folklore of South Tyrol’s wine-growing culture.

merano grape festival attendees celebrating
Traditional attire and hearty laughter are on full display at the Merano Grape Festival.

Through the decades, the Merano Grape Festival has surged in popularity attracting up to 20,000 revelers each year from around the world. Such festive luster shines welcoming light on the stellar wines of Italy’s smallest wine-growing region.

What to Expect at the Merano Grape Festival

The Merano Grape Festival boasts a fun-filled program spanning three days. Fest-goers can delight in a cultural experience teeming with entertainment.

Each day offers a multitude of outdoor concerts as well as culinary stands brimming with the seasonal specialties of South Tyrol. Most of these festival activities take place in the plazas and promenades near the Passer River.

Admission to the festival is free. However, special events like wine tastings and yodeling workshops require a ticket. Yes, you can try mastering the art of yodeling while in Merano!

The Merano Grape Festival Grand Parade

Empress Elisabeth waving at Merano Grape Festival Parade
The dazzling belle of the Merano Grape Festival’s Grand Parade is “Empress Elisabeth”.

The highlight of the festival is the Grand Parade that takes place Sunday afternoon. The one-plus-hour-long procession is unlike any parade we have seen before.

The Grand Parade illuminates the flower-framed avenues of old town Merano with lushly decorated floats and carriages led by South Tyrol’s famous Haflinger horses. In fact, it is the only horse-drawn parade in all of the Alps.

In between the 40+ floats, marching bands from communities around Merano fill the air with song. In addition, the parade proudly showcases Schützen — members of a voluntary organization honoring the storied heritage of riflemen defending South Tyrol’s independence.

The parade even includes a glamorous appearance by Merano’s most famous resident: Sissi, the beloved Empress Elisabeth of Austria. In the 19th century, her beauty as well as her affection for Merano was unrivaled.

The most spectacular sight we saw during the parade was a hulking bunch of grapes hung from a log carried by two men. Second to that was a mighty crown made of red and gold apples from South Tyrol.


Feasting with Festival Royalty

Prior to the parade, revelers and local residents alike feast in the Festplatz — a garden draped in vines tinged with autumn’s kiss. Here, you will mingle with ladies and gents donning time-honored Tyrolean attire while listening to live folk music.

Being able to admire the ornate costumes and hats up close is as fun as watching the parade itself. The Festplatz is also a great place to socialize with other fest-goers. We spoke with a friendly couple from Germany who left us even more merry than our glasses of wine.

This bustling area of the Merano Grape Festival is sponsored by the Schützenkompanie Meran (SSKM) so you are sure to find a hearty fall dish to your liking. But as we learned, make sure to leave room for South Tyrolean Strauben. It is not to be missed.

Where to Stay for the Merano Grape Festival

Merano Grape Festival Flowers

Given how popular the Merano Grape Festival has become we recommend booking accommodations in Merano so you can easily reach the old town center on foot. You will want to avoid dealing with heavy vehicle traffic — especially on Sunday when some roads close for the Grand Parade.

Here are some of our top Merano Grape Festival accommodation recommendations in the heart of Merano:

Hotel Therme Meran (Terme Merano) – This modern luxury spa resort sits in the middle of Merano along the Passer River. It is connected by a tunnel to a stunning thermal spa and park where the pools possess healing properties thanks to mineral-rich water sourced from nearby Mt. Vigiljoch.

Hotel Aurora – Perched right on the Passer Promenade, Hotel Aurora is a family-owned gem with a location that cannot be beaten for the festival. The flower-drenched balconies offer sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and river below.

If you do not mind trekking a bit (20-40 minutes) to reach Merano, consider the following stays:

Hotel Erika – Located in the nearby village of Dorf Tirol, Hotel Erika is a jaw-dropping wellness oasis beaming from a mountainside amid vineyards and castles. You can easily reach Merano by taking the ravishing Tappeiner Promenade. This epic path is steps away from Hotel Erika.

Hotel Ansitz Plantitscherhof – Set conveniently in a regal neighborhood between Merano and the must-see Gardens of Trauttmansdorff, this boutique-style beauty wows guests with a rooftop spa and the opportunity to rent classic automobiles. Imagine cruising the Alps in a vintage Alfa Romero!

Of course, staying within walking distance of Merano is not necessary to visit the Merano Grape Festival. You might find it more convenient and affordable to book a cozy stay in neighboring Lana at the Landhaus am Gries or in Naturns at the Preidlhof Luxury Spa Resort. Public buses frequently run to Merano from these towns.


Tips for Attending the 2023 Merano Grape Festival

A waitress serving beer and wine at the Merano Grape Festival

In 2023, the Merano Grape Festival is scheduled to take place on October 14-16. Thankfully, the Grand Parade is scheduled to resume this year and will take place on Sunday, October 16. To learn more about this year’s festivities, check the Merano tourism website for updates as the program is finalized for 2023.

If you plan to attend the Merano Grape Festival in the future, we recommend the following:

  • Book your hotel accommodations early
  • Once in Merano, visit the Merano tourist office for a map of the town and to obtain the festival program guide. The staff will also gladly answer any questions and share any special events you might like
  • Find a spot on the curb at least 30 minutes before the parade begins
  • If you are not staying within walking distance of Merano, make reservations for dinner in town after the parade. This will allow the crowds to thin out so you can avoid traffic delays

We would like to give special thanks to the Merano Tourist Office for going above and beyond in helping us highlight the Merano Grape Festival for our readers!

14 thoughts on “Discover the Merano Grape Festival: A Sweet Harvest Celebration in the Alps”

  1. The Merano Grape Festival festival looks like an absolute dream! The whole atmosphere is so festive. What a great cultural experience!

  2. Exciting place and festival. What a great adventure. I would love to participate in the grape festival. Your photos are excellent! Merano Grape Festival seems perfect for me because I am a wine lover and love wine tasting. Yodeling classes must be great and funny too. The Grand Parade looks fabulous.

  3. Wow! This looks so amazing and colorful. Love the vibrant history of the festival. During my Austria visit, I got to learn a lot about Sissi, the beloved Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It’s great to see that the parade even includes her!

  4. Fall is one of my favorite seasons and this definitely sounds like my kinda autumn festivity! Their traditional attire is beautiful and it’s awesome that it’s free to attend. Some festivals charge entrance fees and you have to pay for all the food/drinks, etc. on top of that. Would love to experience this someday!

  5. Fall festivals are always so great with harvest and nature changing all the colours. The Merano Grape Festival looks like a fun one to plan on attending. The parade would be fun. But that Festplatz might keep us busy for awhile!

  6. I love going to different unique festivals around the world. The grape festival looks like so much fun and I love that it is free. It’s really cool that the festival has been going on for so many years, I’m happy that it is still happening this year! I have never been to Italy in the fall either. I bet it is beautiful with the colorful leaves.

    • Thank you Elizabeth for the comment. Fall is a wonderland in South Tyrol! Hope you get to experience the season.

  7. Oh….my gosh. That’s it. I’m going! I’m book the trip next summer! This looks AMAZING. It seems as though south Tyrol has its own culture separate from Italy. Here I was thinking my apple picking this weekend was the height of fall fun LOL.

    • Great to hear about your travel plans for next summer! If you have any questions while planning your trip to South Tyrol, just let us know. It is definitely not like the rest of Italy!

  8. This sounds like such fun festival. I had never heard of it before but it sounds like my kind of thing! Would spend the day eating all of the local dishes. Hopefully they won’t have to cancel it this year. Things might keep getting better through October.

    • Thank you for the comment. Yes, fingers crossed everything gets better for all of us no matter where we are in the world.

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