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Funken, Kehlegg/Dornbirn © Markus Gmeiner / Vorarlberg Tourismus GmbH
Living Custom

Traditional Bonfires

On Saturday and Sunday after Ash Wednesday they are burning - the bonfires ("Funken") in the towns and villages in Vorarlberg.

Bonfires in Vorarlberg:

The burning of the bonfire is accompanied by music, sometimes also fireworks, the traditional “Funkaküachle” eating which are made from yeast dough, and hot drinks. Ever since the beginning, this custom has always been supposed to dispel winter and the ferocious spirits of Carnival.

In many parts of Vorarlberg old customs and century-old cultural heritage are still alive. The most typical winter custom in the Alemannic Vorarlberg is “Funken-Abbrennen” – the tradition of burning off bonfires. Therefore, Funken guilds all over Vorarlberg build looming bonfires – artful, polygonal constructions – to which they set fire in the evening in a festive ceremony. The highlight is the explosion of the powder filled witch, which is placed at the top of the wooden tower.

Funken abbrennen in Vorarlberg: Funkenbrauch am Funkensonntag (c) Hans Wiesenhofer
Funken, Kehlegg/Dornbirn © Markus Gmeiner / Vorarlberg Tourismus GmbH

In Montafon, especially in the village of Gortipohl, the custom of “disc flinging” is practiced. In addition to the bonfires, a two-metre-long, smooth plank is prepared on a block of wood above which about 500 glowing discs will fly over in one evening, each of them leaving shining arches in the dark night sky. he origins of this initially pagan ritual go back hundreds of years and since 2016, disc flinging has been included in the UNESCO national list of intangible cultural heritage.