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European Bike Week 2023 at Lake Faak – When money is the only thing that counts!

Then information is also sometimes withheld!

“European Bike Week at Lake Faak: Harley-Davidson’s European highlight – Who benefits and where are the challenges?”

Contract negotiations on the EBW, are still ongoing

There are set dates for 2024 and 2025, indicating that contracts for subsequent years starting in 2026 are under negotiation and, according to the latest information, have not yet been finalized. There is a noticeable reluctance to talk about this topic. The negotiations between Kärnten Werbung, the Villach region and Harley-Davidson have been going on all year.

European Bike Week at Lake Faak
Parade at Lake Faak Photo credit: Harleysite

Stalled negotiations and lack of communication

There was even a rumor that Harley-Davidson was looking for another event location. Actually, the parties involved wanted to come to an agreement in Budapest at the 120th Anniversary Festival, but even there it did not come to the final signature on the new European Bike Week contract.

Negotiations seem to have stalled, it’s not like there won’t be problems at the otherwise highly acclaimed Bike Week.

The last message from Harley-Davidson about the European Bike Week , is not particularly informative, if you are honest, there is nothing new in it, which some from the community have already criticized in the social media. Normally, you wouldn’t skimp on information when promoting your event.

Why is the Arneitz Village so prominently advertised?

Homepage of Villach Tourism of the European Bike Week page
Homepage of the Villach Tourism of the European Bike Week page (screenshot)

Villach Tourism has placed a link to the Arneitz Village prominently on the homepage and the Arneitz program poster is also prominently displayed. It’s actually the counter event to Harley-Davidson’s European Bike Week.

This is all a bit curious, certainly you have to be active as a tourism agency for all in the region, but the interaction of exclusive information about the Harley Village and the conspicuous presentation of the counter-events, I would not really like as an organizer.

The Arneitz Village

At Arneitz Village, biker popularity has also declined significantly in recent years. In the past, many top-class customizers exhibited their bikes there. In general, the old school biker generation was and is more likely to be found there. Unfortunately, many things have changed here. The coming years will provide insight into how things will develop. In any case, they offer a wide program and are committed to attracting renowned customizers to the event once again.

Harley-Davidson authorized dealers jump off

The problems at Lake Faak seem to be a bit bigger than expected. It is known that some exhibitors from the ranks of Harley-Davidson, last year had significant bureaucratic problems with the financial police. Documents of employees with long service were requested by the authorities. It seemed somewhat unusual, for example, to have to prove one’s education from 19XX.

In others, penalties were imposed if someone did not adhere to the official language. Those who thought they could fill out the form in English ran into difficulties. We are not talking about short checks here, some of them were very intensive.

European Bike Week 2023 at Lake Faak - When money is the only thing that counts! 1
European Bike Week 2023 at Lake Faak - When money is the only thing that counts! 8

What came out during the inspections of the financial police!

I think it’s always better to know exactly what you’re talking about, and I asked the Federal Ministry of Finance what the results of the checks were.

The financial police regularly carry out focus checks at major events, drawing on the event as a whole, and sometimes only certain areas, sectors or vendors, for control measures. In the specific case, the overall event was inspected on several days and providers were checked with regard to employment and compliance with the provisions of tax law.

The financial police inspected 2022 on Bike Week on several days and made the following findings with about 35 officers: 125 businesses with 488 employees were inspected and the following violations were found: 3 times unauthorized employment of foreigners, 15 illegal employment, 5 unauthorized cases of unemployment benefits, 61 violations of the Wage and Social Dumping Prevention Act and 2 offenses under the Trade Regulation Act. In addition, 12 control notices were issued to the Austrian Tax Office, one notice was issued to the Labor Inspectorate, and around 30,000 euros were executed due to arrears.

Current information from the Federal Ministry of Finance Austria on Harleysite demand

Strict controls and the importance of documentation

Of course, they have not only been at the Harley Village, but one thing is clear, they do not take a joke and if they show up somewhere, you should really have all the papers and proof with you, otherwise you get into the mill and pay plenty of fine. One of the problems is just knowing beforehand exactly what all they are asking, this year many will be better prepared. However, one may question why such a strict approach is taken when it is only a matter of missing documents.

The authorized dealer Harley-Davidson Hamburg North has cancelled participation after 20 years.

Last year the H-D authorized dealer with the stores from Bolzano, Trento and Innsbruck dropped out, this year the authorized dealers St. Pölten, Salzburg and H-D Hamburg Nord have canceled their participation in the Bike Week. The Hamburgers had been at Faaker See for 20 years.

Various dealers cite reasons including the restriction of music until shortly after midnight, high booth rents that have not increased in the last 5 years but are still perceived as high for contracted dealers.

Security and generally the high costs for staff and accommodation and everything else that goes with it. The bureaucracy with the authorities and woe is it times an important sheet in the documents missing, in addition incomprehensibly high punishments. So it makes some involved no more fun, because that should also be there, it is not all just business for many.

Where are the top players in the Harley scene?

The big players have not been around for many years. Rick`s Motorcycles and Thunderbike have different reasons why they no longer go to Bike Week. In Ricks’ case, it’s the cost factor; staffing and housing costs were out of proportion. In the case of Thunderbike, it’s the cost and they literally let it sink on the site at the time. The wood chips came way too late and if you only have mud in front of the tent and the visitors don’t come to your booth at all, people don’t want to put up with it. The dealers are all very vindictive then, and won’t come back if things don’t go smoothly.

The bikers are more and more often in the sights of the authorities

In addition, bikers were increasingly targeted by the police, which caused a lot of discontent. It should be mentioned that the Bavarian police also carry out special controls on the way to and from Lake Faak. Controls are certainly necessary and known at times, but it may depend on the necessary tact with which one proceeds. If they don’t control, thefts increase, and nobody wants that. But still, one had more and more often the feeling, it is not only about theft prevention.

European Bike Week - Police control
European Bike Week – Police control

Villach Tourism wants to earn money

They want to benefit from all of us. A look at Villach Tourism reveals their strategy. They prefer to handle transactions through their own portal, which is why there is limited information about the event elsewhere. While their offered rides are fee-based, the two chapters I like to support offer their tours for you with friends and for free. Villach relies on its own tourism map and booking platform, which explains why accommodation listings on other established booking portals are scarce. They want to keep control, apparently the hotel companies don’t really have a choice.

They use event information as a lure for their platform.

Even in the last official Event-Information of Harley-Davidson, was hardly relevant, which some have already criticized on Facebook. On the Harleysite, in addition to information, there is a booking link to Booking.com, which many generally prefer, as long as suitable accommodations are displayed. I book on my travels myself mostly through the well-known portals.

Of course, you could call directly to the hotels to save costs, but often we appreciate the convenience and the simple thing, or discounts from the Genius loyalty program, that is generally the success of the portals.

In Velden am Wörthersee the “Velden Village” comes back

In Velden, I had talks with hoteliers who had already grumbled about the entire negative development in Carinthia last year. The police would be called in from Vienna and they are probably a bit different than the local law enforcement. And the decision, that one does not want any more motor events in the place, did not fit them so at all.

Velden am Wörthersee is in the race again

But then, who would have thought it, after last year from Velden am Wörthersee was to report that no more motor events in the region around Lake Wörthersee are desired, to which the GTI meeting belonged just as the Harley-Davidson meeting, the Velden Village is revived in Velden. The hoteliers are the driving force behind this; they have had consistently positive experiences with their Harley guests. Over the years, acquaintances and regular customers developed, who are gladly welcomed to the hotel at the end of the season.

Velden am Wörthersee has nothing against booking portals

Then there was the matter of the booking portals!

At Velden Tourism, Booking.com is not seen as a competitor. At the Faaker See one prefers to stay regardless of Booking.com * and other platforms to act. In Velden the opinion is: It is like not being listed on Google if you decide against such booking portals and it behaves as if what you do not find on Google does not really exist. What counts in Velden is that the customer can decide for himself how he wants to book his accommodation, in contrast to Lake Faak, where the offer on the portals is very limited.

Velden am Wörthersee would like to participate more in the European Bike Week

Months ago, Velden was already seeking an economic stake in the entire event, not as a competitor, but as a partner of the event. This represents a complete turnaround for the site. It is commendable when politicians and responsible parties reconsider their decisions and are open to improved approaches after discussions with stakeholders.

What alternatives do we have left?

You could look more towards Velden, they will even extend the Velden Village to the Schlosshotel this year. There will be live music again, how it will be at the Gemonaplatz, more info will come shortly, in any case, there will be something offered again.

Or we look to Prague, because the Prague Harley Days are still hungry, reasonable prices and a beautiful city that has much to offer. I was last at Prague Harley Days last year, the event takes place one week before European Bike Week from 01 to 03 September 2023.

Question: What do they do with all that coal?
Question: What do they do with all that coal?

Question: What do they do with all that coal?

The questions of questions is really, what are they going to do with all the money that’s being negotiated for right now? Would be nice if some of the proceeds went back into the event! It cannot be that we are offered less and less, but they all want to earn more. Normally, an event refinances itself, depending on how it is set up. Although the requirements and safety regulations have increased enormously in recent years, but it is not that the exhibitors pay nothing, but if it is already increasingly difficult to keep even the Harley dealers on Europe’s largest Harley-Davidson event, you have to ask yourself what is actually going on here.


Unfortunately, it often turns out that events lose their charm over time. EBW has also been experiencing a decline in popularity for years. It seems like people are cashing in all over the place, but investing less in the event. At least there is no entrance fee at Faaker See, but there is obviously no budget for top-class acts.

After the Corona pandemic, we miss the big stage and from an impressive fireworks and top acts, we hear only from history. The event and the bikers generate added value of several million euros in the region. The participants and guests book thousands of nights in the area.

In the end, information about the event is still positioned exclusively so as to guide the bikers and to obtain the maximum profit. If it were reflected in the event, yes, all would be well, but currently fewer Harley dealers attend the event each year, so the problems of the event seem perhaps even greater than currently thought.

The sad thing is that it is already beautiful at Lake Faak, but what good is that if it becomes less every year.

Text and photo credits : Harleysite

*Affiliate Link. *2 Screenshot from the Tourism Villach page

When is Faaker See 2023?

The Harley-Davidson meeting at Lake Faak, will take place from 05. until September 10, 2023.

Where is the biggest Harley meeting in Europe?

The largest Harley-Davidson meeting in Europe, takes place annually in Austria, at Lake Faak.

When is Harley meeting at the Wörthersee?

The Harley-Davidson meeting at the Wörthersee, takes place in the time of 05. until September 10, 2023.

European Bike Week Parade vom Harley-Davidson Treffen in Kärnten
European Bike Week Parade 2018 am Faaker See