Events & Festivals in Vienna
In terms of events and festivals, Vienna is famous for its ball culture, concerts and classical music. The most important of all balls is of course the "Ball of the Republic", the Vienna Opera Ball - but there are others that rival its fame and financial confidence: The "Life Ball", for example, an aids charity event that was started in the gay scene of Vienna.
Today, its annual revenue is about the same as the one of the Opera Ball. Other balls include traditional redoutes (masked balls), balls in Austrian traditional costume (Trachten) or other "themes".
Beyond balls, Vienna has a reputation for its concerts, such as the Neujahrskonzert. Summer festivals are mostly popular in the surroundings of Vienna - just like in other big cities, the heat of the summer is best avoided by leaving. One noteworthy exception is the Donauinselfest, the biggest open-air music festival in the World with usually more than three million visitors - free of charge. Here is an overview of festivals and events in the annual circle.
Neujahrskonzert der Wiener Philharmoniker: The traditional "New Year′s Concert" of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra takes place on the 1st of January in the concert hall of the Wiener Musikverein. A bit of Beethoven, some Mozart and a lot of the crap that Strauss produced and that geriatric Viennese love so dearly.
Ball der Philharmoniker: The Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is internationally less famous than the Opera Ball - but locally one of the post exclusive events in Vienna.
Wiener Opernball: The Vienna Oper Ball is potentially the most famous ball in the world - see my respective article for more on the occasion.
Ball Season and Mardi Gras: The peak of the ball season comes in the week before Ash Wednesday - with hundreds of balls and redoutes. Great for people who like balls. I don′t.
Every year on the first of May, the "Day of Labour", the Social Democrats gather thousands of their followers on the Rathausplatz, the square in front of the city hall. There they celebrate the fact that Vienna has been a "Red Bastion" ever since the 1920ies (with short intermissions due to fascism). It is a colourful bunch: Old people, more old people and even more old people of whom some are still waiting for the revolution; alongside with a few young people who try to launch it and often demonstrate against the current party committee. After the congregation in front of the city hall, there is a fair at the Prater - bread and games to distract the keep the masses quiet.
Life Ball: The the main ball season, the only ball that looks like fun to me is held as an Aids charity event. Colourful, cheerful and thoroughly gay (still) - but also increasingly commercial. Held in late May.
Wiener Festwochen: A series of performances - from opera to concerts and theatre at different venues of Vienna′s vibrant theatre scene. Some open-air concerts are usually produced, too - especially for the opening concert.
Vienna City Marathon: The name says it all, a marathon that is held in Vienna annually in early summer. Attracts a lot of attention, festival stalls and a fair supplement the thousands of people who run their 40-odd kilometres across the smog of Vienna. Surely healthy.
June or July
Donauinselfest: Ever since 1984, the Donauinselfest attracts an ever growing number of people to Vienna and - more specifically - to the Donauinsel. Free of charge, with a range of musical styles, highly popular with some three million visitors in three to four days. The Donauinselfest is a "red" festival, funded by the city of Vienna.
July or August
Jazzfest Wien: Again, the name says it all - a jazz festival that takes advantage of some of Vienna′s most exclusive performance venues, such as Staatsoper or Burgtheater. Both are closed for the summer, ideal for festivals.
ImPuls Tanz: A festival of dance that is held on various stages, spiritually centered at the MuseumsQuartier.
Klangbogen Festival: Opera and operetta at the Theater an der Wien and other places in Vienna.
October & November
The Viennale is a mediocre film festival often dedicated to a certain topic; a stage for the minute Austrian movie scene, which loves to behave as if it was significant.
Wien modern: A festival of 20th century music.
Start of the ball season on November 11th.
Christmas markets - there are several in Vienna, the ones that I like the best are "the" Vienna Christmas market in front of the Rathaus City Hall and the Spittelberg area. The one in Schönbrunn is mostly made for tourists. Plenty of other, smaller ones are worth being explored if you happen to live in the area.
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Festivals & Events elsewhere in Austria
Vorarlberg - Tyrol (Tirol) - Salzburg - Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) - Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) - Vienna - Carinthia (Kärnten) - Styria - Burgenland
Traditions & Customs of Austria
Best of Fest: Most Popular Festivals of Austria
Ministery for Education, Culture and Science (includes folk culture)
Austrian Tourism Council for current events