World Bodypainting Festival

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Alex Barendregt (left), the main organiser of the festival, with Markus Schenkeli (right), the host of the festival.

The World Bodypainting Festival (WBF) is a bodypainting festival and competition which is held annually in Austria. The festival used to be held in Pörtschach on lake Wörthersee, but since 2017 it has taken place in Klagenfurt. It is attended by artists from 50 nations and attracts many thousands spectators.[1]


The World Bodypainting Festival has been taking place since 1998, forming a part of the art and cultural scene and the festival season of the southern region of Austria. The WBF has been involved in creating the modern bodypainting art movement, which has become worldwide, and the event's media coverage has continually increased. Over the years the festival has been hosted in different towns around the state of Carinthia, and in its 20th year it acquired a new home in the capital city, Klagenfurt am Wörthersee. Interaction with local art initiatives and the cultural institutions of the region has provided the art of bodypainting with opportunities for growth and networking.

The WBF is held during the summer months usually in July. It attracts artists from 50+ nations and attracts 30,000+ spectators.[2] It consists of a preparatory week followed by 3 main days of the festival/competition. The preparatory week consists of workshops and side events.

The workshops offer many educational programs and lessons by leading artists in brush & sponge, airbrush, special effects, beauty make-up, head dressing including colour theory and history. All workshops are run and handled under the WB Academy and are also scheduled throughout the year in various cities worldwide. Side events include parties such as the surreal Costume Ball (Body Circus) with international DJs and musical stage performances. Also included are exhibitions, gatherings, meeting points and industry discussions.

The three main days are open to the general public in a park also known as "Bodypaint City" where the World, Special and Amateur Awards are held.[3] The festival is open to both adults and children and is considered a family-friendly environment. Spectators and visitors alike are able to step "into the surreal" filled with a unique world of art that excites the senses and the imagination. Visitors can also take part and express themselves in various activities throughout Bodypaint City. Artists compete on all three days with a given theme in the categories of brush & sponge, airbrush and special effects for the World Champion Award & title announced on Sunday. Also included is the World Facepainting Award, Armateur Award, Installation Award, Special Effects Face Make-up, Make-up Battle Award and the Photo Award. All categories have separate prizes and trophies. Artists can use either male or female models. The festival is open for both adults and children, and many families come there together.[2]

The three main days of the festival also plays host to a VIP area, a bodypainting manufacture & suppliers' market, fashion & crafts market, food & beverage vendors, headline stage bands, performers and international DJs throughout various musical zones of Bodypaint City. "There is something for everyone" including the closing Paint Party.

The festival continues to develop the art form of body painting. The new location in Klagenfurt has brought more opportunities to connect the art of bodypainting with local museums, art galleries and cultural institutions. The city gallery (Stadtgalerie), the Museum of Modern Art Carinthia (MMKK), the literature museum (Musil Museum), theatres and privately owned galleries provide space and opportunities for bodypainting artists to exhibit and perform, opening their venues free of charge during the festival week.


The festival was first created and launched in 1998 in Seeboden, Austria as the European Bodypainting Festival in order to promote summer tourism to the region by then tourism manager Alex Barendregt. It was a small gathering of artists and the first "boutique event" of its kind in the world.[4] Also launched in conjunction was the WB Academy, which in 2008 was offered worldwide. As the Bodypainting Movement was growing, in 2001 Mr. Barendregt launched the World Body Painting Association followed by the launch of WB Production in 2010.[5]

Due to the increasing attendance of international artists and supporters to the festival, in 2004 the festival was renamed to "The World Bodypainting Festival" and in 2011 Mr. Barendregt left his position at the tourist office and moved the festival to its new home in Pörtschach, on lake Wörthersee. Today it is the biggest annual event in the bodypainting culture, community and industry at large. It has become the "Center of Bodypainting" and "Home" to many. Combined with Mr. Barendregt's efforts, the WB Association, WB Production and the WB Academy are considered and responsible for providing a worldwide platform and introduction into the Art of Bodypainting.

In 2017 the festival venue moved a bit further down the lake to Klagenfurt, the capital city of the state of Carinthia. The new venue is the Goethepark, a public park surrounded by the cultural treasures such as the theatre, the art house and many galleries.



  1. ^ "Pörtschach wird in den nächsten drei Jahren bunt" [Pörtschach will be colorful in the next three years]. Kleine Zeitung (in German). 20 September 2010. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b Hänninen, Lauri: Väri maalaa tarinan. Kamera magazine 6-7/2010, pp. 14–18.
  3. ^ "World Bodypainting Festival: Models transformed into amazing artworks". BBC News. 16 July 2018.
  4. ^ Allison McNearney. "At the World Bodypainting Festival, the Human Body Is a Canvas". National Geographic.
  5. ^ "WB Production: Welcome to our World". WB Production.

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Coordinates: 46°37′39″N 14°18′9″E / 46.62750°N 14.30250°E / 46.62750; 14.30250