Europe’s Car Gathering, if you like the VW GTI, you’d love Wörthersee, where up to 200,000 enthusiasts have come to admire GTIs and other great cars since the 1980s.

  • Held since 1982, the annual Wörthersee GTI Treffen saw crowds as large as 200,000 at its peak.
  • The local Wörth municipality in Austria, where the event had been held, announced the permanent end of the gathering earlier this year.
  • VW has officially sponsored the Treffen since 2000 and has now promised to continue the tradition at its headquarters in Wolfsburg.

If you are a fan of the Volkswagen GTI in any of its generations, then heaven is a place in Germany. Specifically, the bucket-list trip of any VW hot hatch aficionado is a visit to the near-legendary GTI Treffen, held on the shores of Lake Wörth since 1982. At its peak, hundreds of thousands of GTI and Golf R fans thronged here, snapping photos of wildly customized Golfs and eating far too much Volkswagen currywurst (VW part number 199398500A). However, as might be expected, the locals have grown somewhat weary of the spectacle.

Europe’s Car Gathering in a statement that nodded to the economic prosperity brought to the region by past Treffens, the local government nonetheless firmly yanked the plug wires on the world’s biggest GTI festival. Citing the effects of climate change and a need to consider sustainability, an official statement concluded, “The municipality of Maria Wörth will no longer host any conventional major automotive events in the next few years.”

Obviously, this was a blow for many a VeeDub enthusiast, and for Volkswagen itself. The Treffen started 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 of the Gran Turismo racing games. And who could 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 almost immediately announced that the Treffen would still be held, just relocated to Wolfsburg. The event will be held next year, and VW plans to call the theme “Coming Home.” There will be special highlights, and Volkswagen has promised a few surprises for loyal GTI fans.

Really, it’s the best possible outcome for the Treffen. With such huge crowds, it had effectively outgrown its former location. Bringing the festival directly to Wolfsburg feels more fitting, and the year’s break allows Volkswagen more time to plan.

The Golf R and GTI still both garner near-perfect scores for their blend of practicality and performance, and their fan base remains huge. If you’ve been putting off your own trek to the Treffen, 2024’s the year.