History of “Villacher Fasching”
As reported by the civic museum, the first “Villacher Fasching” (Villach Carnival) which took place in 1867 ended with a successful procession. The reporter described around one hundred of masked participants and the satisfaction of shopkeepers since they “made money”. They praised the generosity of the soldiers belonging to the 7th Hussar Regiment who were in Villach that time.
Railway was “appreciated” with humoristic references to the rails under construction.
After the century end, every year during the Carnival period, the “Bauerngman Villach” (a public utility association founded in 1908) organized the “Villacher Bauernball” (the farmers ball), which was attended by many visitors from all over the country.
When in 1955, on the occasion of the farmers ball, the new “Villacher Fasching” developed from the idea of senator Rudolf Horn, the organizers (Bauerngam Villach) could not foresee the importance of the Carnival as a social event.
Even though in 1956 no carnival events took place because of the national mourning, more than 50 pubs and restaurants participated in the carnival events in the following year with the “Carnival in all Villach” motto. The procession was worth seeing, since masked owners of pubs and restaurants in Villach attended to their customers in their decorated premises and they participated in the procession followed by their staff, especially in 1960 (900th anniversary of Villach foundation).
Considering the enthusiasm for the Carnival shown by Villach citizens, in 1961 the first “Villacher Faschingssitzung” (Carnival Session) was held at the Chamber of Labour following the ideas of Dr. Herbert Hinrichs and Dr. Heinrich Erlach. This idea was enthusiastically brought to reality by Heinz Jochen Rabe. Thanks to his tireless work and the idealism of all people involved in this event, the Carnival Sessions took place.
The first Carnival Session was held in 1961 and it was transmitted via radio. It was not difficult to find tickets for this event as it is today: each “farmer” of “Bauerngman Villach” had to buy ten tickets to resell all of them. The actors were members of the biggest associations such as the Villach Gymnastics Association, the Traders Association, the Touring Club and many other people.
One year later, the “Carnival Council of Ministers” organized five sessions gathering more than 100 actors and the idea “Carnival in Villach – Villach in Carnival” was brought to reality on the occasion of the Saturday before Lent.
In 1963, a Carnival Session was partially broadcasted on the Austrian television for the first time.
On 12th March 1966, the “Faschingsgilde” of the “Villacher Bauerngman” (the Carnival Guild) became the enlarged commission of the Villacher Bauerngman. Due to Innsbruck Olympic games, there was no television broadcasting.
After the “Villacher Faschingsgilde” became part of the “Austrian Carnival Guild Association” (Bund Österreichischer Faschingsgilden) at the beginning of 1965, in 1966 the “Verbandstag mit Herz” (the day of associations) on Landskorn ruins was organized. On this occasion, Josef Binder of Villach Carnival Guild was the first president of the “Austrian Carnival Guild Association”.
Also thanks to the “Villach clowns” many guilds were founded following the Villach model in Carinthia and in other Austrian regions.
Villach citizens managed to organize a Carnival for the whole Austria broadcasted by radio and television, still keeping its local identity.
On 4th October 1966 the Villacher Faschingsgilde separated from the Villacher Bauerngman founding an autonomous association.
Starting from 1972 more than 160 amateurs on stage, in the hall and behind the scenes organized a three hour and a half programme in the Congress Center Villach. The programme reproached and criticized people without offending anybody. Humorism is the main ingredient – this is the motto of the pillory announcer Dr. Heinrich Erlach: “it has to please Villach citizens in pleasing Villach citizens”. The big audience of the programmes on Carnival Session on ORF showed that the “Villacher Faschingsgilde” was on the right track.
In 1975 the “Villach clowns” were awarded the Ettlingen prize (“Ettlinger Narrenbrunnenpreis”). The speech was held by the chief appeal court prosecutor Dr. Hans Sachs from Nurenberg and many important officials appreciated Villach performances.
The “Narrentafel”, headed by Heinz Jochen Rabe, separated from Villacher Faschingsgilde.
In January 1978 the European Carnival Association Congress was held in Villach – Warmbad. Thanks to the contacts with the representatives of many carnival associations, their members discovered Carinthia as a tourist destination.
In 1978, after many years of unselfished work, Dr. Herbert Hinrichs transferred his position of Chancellor to Gernot Bartl and he was appointed Honour Chancellor of Faschingsgilde Villach.
In 1980 Villach celebrated its 25th Carnival and a pleasant event occurred: The “Narrentafel” headed by Heinz Jochen Raabe and the Villacher Faschingsgilde rejoined. Three years of separation had passed and both parties showed authentic pleasure in working together again.
The pillory announcer and the actors who performed in past successful sessions reminded the history of the Villacher Faschingsgilde during a special session.
When its 30th birthday was celebrated, ORF broadcasted the programme “Kannst du dich erinnern?”.
Together with ORF, 30 years of broadcasting the “Villacher Fasching” sessions were celebrated. Villach Carnival had become one of the oldest and most popular programme on the Austrian television.
On the occasion of the Saturday before Lent, starting from 1994 besides Carnival Sessions for children and adult programmes, ORF broadcasted a clip of the programmes of the last decades.
On the occasion of the 40th anniversary in 1995, the book “LEI-LEI – 40 Jahre Villacher Fasching” was published.
The city of Villach and the Carinthia region allowed the Villacher Faschingsgilde to hold the flags of the city and the region.
Due to works in the Congress Center Villach, in 1996 the sessions were held in a smaller place, in the Chamber of Labour in Kaiser-Josef square.
On 11th November 1996 Polygram presented the film clip “Villacher Fasching – Höhepunkte von 1963 – 1996”, produced by ORF Wien and the Villacher Faschingsgilde.
The Villacher Faschingsgilde participates in the traditional presentation of the ORF TV programme for 1999.
Once again, sessions are held in the Chamber of Labour due to works in the Congress Center Villach.
Our guard receives the new yellow and black coloured uniform.
Since the year 2000 the official audio support of the Villacher Faschingsgilde LEI- LEI is available. It is produced by Dietmar Katzianka.
In October 2001 the keys of the new house are given to the Guild. 682 m2 on three levels are available for Villach Carnival and other events.
The certification mark for company exceptional performances is given for the first time.
The Villacher Fasching is broadcasted by the Austrian television for the 40th year. It is broadcasted in prime time and it achieves the highest audience in the year.
On 13th November 2004 the book “LEI-LEI – 50 Jahre Villacher Fasching” (LEI-LEI -50 years of Villacher Fasching) is presented.
On 19th and 20th November a session to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Villacher Faschingsgilde is held with hosts, old and new actors.
On 2nd Febrauary 2005 the first outdoor session is held in the main square with around 6000 spectators.
On 27th April 2005 Walter Rudka is appointed Guild Chancellor and Gernot Bartl Honour Chancellor.
ORF broadcasts three programmes about Villacher Fasching (the fiftieth anniversary session, the best scenes of the most recent years and the programme for 2005).
The Jungfaschingsgilde (the young carnival guild) celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The Honour Chancellor Gernot Bartl comes back as director and active member for the 2008 season.
Villach dedicates a life-size bronze harlequin to the Faschingsgilde, which is installed on the bridge over the Drava River, near the Congress Center Villach, to remind the “native country” of Villacher Faschingsgilde.
The „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ appears with a totally new, modern site in the world wide web.
The scenery for the sessions in the Congress Center Villach gets a new design. The eye catcher is the huge symbol in the middle of the stage. With this symbol the „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ cannot be mistaken with other carnival productions.
The ticket sale office of the „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ moved from the Congress Center Villach to the clubhouse. Since August 2010 the office is open for all the year round.
The „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ becomes „digital“: The purchase of one of the most modern digital light desks is the first step to a new technical age.
The modernization in the technical area continues: Since 2011 also the tone during the sessions in the Congress Center Villach becomes digital. Therefore the quality of the tone for our visitors gets much better.
The „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ establishes a company to organize and accomplish the event “Saturday before Lent” – the „Villacher Fasching GmbH.“
Manfred Tisal is presented with an award – the Ettlingen prize („Ettlinger Narrenbrunnenpreis“) – thereby he is the first „non-German-clown“, who receives this prize. This is the most important award one can get in the branch of „clowns“.
The „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ immerses deeper into the „world wide web“: The new „Faschingsblog“ is a further tribute to this modern medium.
The scenery for the sessions in the Congress Center Villach and thereby the productions of the „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ get more modern: The background of the stage is constructed as a huge video wall. With assistance of projectors and cameras it can produce fantastic background effects, and the audience can see the performance on the stage on the video wall.
Ing. Gernot Bartl definitively retires as „clown“, and Manfred Tisal returns as director.
The „Little man of carnival“ („Faschingsmandl“) of the „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ is born: It starts to move, to dance and to jump in three-D and it is named „Villino“ according to the results of a competition.
Another important milestone in the history: The agreement with “ORF” (Austrian broadcasting corporation) for the rights to broadcast the sessions of the „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ is prolonged for further five years until 2018. In 2013 the session of the „Villacher Faschingsgilde“ will be the 50th broadcast in the history of Austrian television. Thereby it is after the production „Kasperl“ the oldest broadcast in ORF. Every year on Shrove Tuesday („Faschingsdienstag“) more than one million spectators watch the broadcast in TV.
The final step towards a definitive technical digitization has been achieved: the stage at the Villach Congress Centre and the Villach Faschingsgilde have a professional, digital appearance.
On 30 th January 2013 the ORF screened a 100minute documentary entitled: “Princes, punch-lines and ”Lei-Lei” – 50 years of Villacher Fasching on ORF” with highlights of 50 years of TV-coverage. The film had a private showing on 21 st January 2013 as a part of a big festival in the Vienna “Metropol”, at which a large delegation from the Villach Faschingsgilde presented to an invited audience.
The new “Lei-Lei thek“ is now online at www.leileithek.at. This unique, medical archive, which can be accessed Europe-wide, contains almost all the existing fool age from the last 50 years together with the accompanying souvenir brochures. Now Villacher Fasching fans throughout the world can enjoy a total of 5,248 minutes.