- Held since 1982, the annual Wörthersee GTI Treffen saw crowds of over 200,000 at its peak.
- The local Werth municipality in Austria, where the event was held, announced a permanent end to the gathering earlier this year.
- VW has officially sponsored Treffen since 2000 and has now promised to continue the tradition at its headquarters in Wolfsburg.
If you’re a fan of any generation of Volkswagen GTI, heaven is a place in Germany. In particular, any VW hot hatch fan’s bucket-list trip is a trip to the near-legendary GTI Treffen, which has been held on the shores of Lake Worth since 1982. At its peak, hundreds of thousands of GTI and Golf R fans flocked here, wildly snapping photos of customized Golfs and eating way too much Volkswagen currywurst (VW part number 199398500A). However, as might be expected, the locals are somewhat weary of the spectacle.
In a statement pointing to the economic prosperity brought to the region by previous Trefens, the local government nevertheless pulled the plug wire firmly on the world’s largest GTI festival. Citing the effects of climate change and the need to consider sustainability, an official statement concluded, “The municipality of Maria Wörth will no longer host any traditional major automotive events over the next few years.”
Understandably, this came as a shock to many VDub enthusiasts and Volkswagen alike. Treffen began as a grassroots festival, but VW had long supported its fans. it debuted
Wörthersee-specific concept cars like the GTI Roadster Vision Gran Turismo, a sleek roofless two-seater built to celebrate 15 years. Gran Turismo racing games. And who can forget the insanity of the GTI W12-650, with its 12-cylinder engine mounted amidships, and a top speed of 201 mph?
but no more. Wörthersee will return to its former charm as a picturesque resort in Bavaria’s Lake District.
Happily, Volkswagen announced almost immediately that Treffen would still be held, just moved to Wolfsburg. The event will be held next year, and VW plans to call the theme “Coming Home”. There will be special attractions, and Volkswagen promises some surprises for loyal GTI fans.
In fact, this is the best possible result for Trephen. With such a large crowd, it had effectively outgrown its former location. Bringing the festival directly to Wolfsburg seems more fitting, and the year break gives Volkswagen more time to plan.
The Golf R and GTI still get nearly perfect scores for their mix of practicality and performance, and their fan base is huge. If you are postponing your trek to Treffen, then the year 2024.
Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and photographer based in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. He grew up cracking his knuckles on British automobiles, came up on the golden age of Japanese sport-compact performance, and began writing about cars and people in 2008. His particular interest is the contrast between humanity and machinery, whether it be the racing of Walter Cronkite or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citroën 2CV. He has taught both of his young daughters how to shift a manual transmission and is forever grateful for an excuse to buy Hot Wheels.