October 26, the day Austria regained independence and sovereignty
Every year on October 26 Austrians celebrate their country’s declaration of permanent neutrality after World War II and its regained status as an independent and sovereign nation on October 26, 1955.
October 26 has been the date of Austria’s National Day since 1965. Ten years earlier, the country had declared its permanent neutrality, which has since become one of the fundamental values of Austrian foreign policy. One day before the declaration, on October 25, 1955, the last foreign troops left the country, which had been occupied by the four allied powers (Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain and France) since the end of World War II.
On October 26, the Austrian national flag is omnipresent throughout the country. Every year, the Federal Government celebrates this day with a series of events in Vienna. The Federal President and the Federal Minister of Defense attend a celebration at Heldenplatz, while the Federal President lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Burgtor. The Federal Chancellery opens its doors to the public. Memorial ceremonies are held in many locations, federal museums offer free entry and some state institutions open for visitors.
A very different tradition on National Day are the “fitness marches” (Fit-Märsche). These are hikes that are organized throughout the country and attract around 100,000 people each year. The aim is to promote fitness and raise awareness of a healthy life-style
Offices, banks, schools and businesses are closed. Public transport runs on a reduced schedule.