Six events for a memorable holiday
There is no bad time to visit Vienna, as every season brings something new and exciting: from summer festivals to Christmas markets.
Vienna is the city of music, of culture and of great Chirstmas markets, so there is always something to do in this apparently serene European capital. Vienna events usually fall into two categories: opulent manifestations reminding you of royal times and carefree cultural festivals making summer pass smoother. Do you prefer film festivals to philharmonic concerts or the other way around? He know the perfect time to plan your holiday:
When to go: Late February
As I write this, the sun is out to play (or, alternatively, roast us all), so starting with an event taking place in the middle of winter sounds most tempting. Arguably the most famous ball in world, the Opera Ball is the crowning glory of the city’s ball season, one that includes annually over 800 balls all over town. This particular one tends to close out the season, in late February, after a winter full of decadent dancing.
With a long history behind it, this is one of the most famous of Vienna events around the globe, with boxes purchased with years in advance and mainly by rich benefactors of the Opera. But if you plan your holidays so far ahead, you could get very basic tickets for acceptable prices and invest the rest in a suitable designer gown. For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it is worth it.
Vienna Christmas Markets
When to go: November to December
Perhaps not exactly Vienna events, but the Christmas markets of the city have gained an impressive reputation as some of the most charming on the continent. If you want to immerse yourself in a fairy tale, Vienna is the place to do it: carols, mulled wine, Christmas scents and souvenir stands complete the usually regal air of the city.
The main market is located in front of the city hall, with stalls surrounding and impressive Christmas tree, but there are plenty of other ones waiting to be discovered all over town, from the central Spittelberg to the vast planes of the Schönbrunn. To make the most of them, time your holiday from the end of November to Christmas time (remember that they end before the actual Christmas).
When to go: New Year’s, predictably.
If we’re talking about famous Vienna events during wintertime, we simply cannot forget the worldwide renowned New Year concert. Televised in over 70 countries around the globe, the Vienna Philharmonic puts on a magic show on the first day of every year, focusing on the waltzes (mainly) of the Strauss family – seasoned with a bit of Mozart or Beethoven, to the conductor’s taste – but always ending with the famous Blue Danube and the Radetzky March.
But if you want to include this in your itinerary, the soundtrack will be less of an issue than actually getting your hands on some tickets. There are reservations made years ahead and plenty of the seats are occupied by important local figures and celebrities. Plan well and with a little determination you can rub elbows with them.
When to go: Late May to early June.
Moving to warmer weather, the local festival has been held since the 1950s in its current shape and it lasts about a month, starting in the middle of May. It usually starts with a free concert in front of the city hall, and welcomes hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists to all sorts of performances. It is an innovative concert bringing together international artists who explore current artistic production, whether it is dancing, art exhibitions, film series, opera, installations, debates, theatre, drama, forums, concerts and plenty of other forms and shapes in which art presents itself. Definitely one of the unmissable Vienna events.
When to go: Late June | Photo: Fest300.com
Who would want to waste a summer day, so as soon as the festival is done, the fun moves to the Danube Island. Donauinselfest is one of the most popular Vienna events, one where around 3 million locals and visitors spread all over the island in search of the best music on offer. The festival has free entry, which will ease your holiday budget and features 19 stages with diverse musical performances, from pop to jazz and hip hop.
When to go: October to November
As soon as fall falls, Vienna events turn cultural. If you’re planning a visit to see rusty leaves and intriguing movies, drop by in October, when the city’s major film festival is in full swing. The Viennale has been running since the 60s and aims to introduce both Austrian and international films to more than 70,000 yearly visitors. With venues spread all around the historic part of the city, you be sightseeing between the screenings off over 200 films, documentaries, tributes or retrospectives.
As you can see, there are plenty of Vienna events to go around for all: all tastes, all holidays, all times of the year. And these are just a few of the most famous ones – Vienna has so much more to offer. If you plan your holiday accordingly, pick up one of our upcoming Vienna Glam Guides to discover the city through the eyes of a local.