Inevitably, there are hundreds of events in Vienna. Local listings can overwhelm you, though, so here are the top annual events and festivals (my opinion), plus current highlights:
Events on now(ish)
- Europride 2019 started June 1 and continues through to June 16 with a whole slew of events for the European LGBTIQ community
- Bit of a serious historical experience available at the Mozarthaus until June 23: see the violin belonging to Mozart’s father. In itself, pretty impressive. But…see it in the very room where he and his son performed Mozart’s “Haydn” quartets in front of Haydn himself. Gulp!
- I really enjoyed the Arik Brauer exhibition at the Jewish Museum (on until October 20, 2019). If you’re not familiar with the name, he’s a multi-talented artist with a rich life history and even richer artistic output
- If you like contemporary art and a touch of the grotesque, be sure to visit the Talking Heads exhibition at Lower Belvedere (until Aug 2019)
Notable future events
- Dürer’s “Young Hare” watercolour only appears every few years, so look out for the Albertina’s Dürer exhibition from Sept 20,
2019to Jan 6, 2020
- 2020 is Beethoven year in Vienna, celebrating the 250th birthday of the composer
Annual events and festivals
These should take place each year but do check the individual articles…
January – March
January 1st is, of course, the date of the world-famous New Year’s Concert. The middle of the month brews up the Vienna Coffee Festival. Then it’s time to slap on your skates for the Vienna Ice World, which runs through until March.
February is very quiet, sandwiched innocently between the holiday season and spring.
March usually sees the Easter markets start up, depending on when Easter actually falls. See, for example, the one at Schönbrunn Palace. There’s also the Vinyl & Music festival at the city’s brewery, the Art Vienna contemporary art fair at the Hofburg, and the Bread Festival at the Marx Halle.
March 2019 also saw the first Foto Wien photography festival, which might well become an annual event.
April to June
The Easter markets may continue (or start) in April, which is when most of the Vienna Blues Spring music festival takes place. Another feast of music that month is the two-day Electric Spring event in the Museumsquartier.
If you prefer your words spoken, rather than sung, then there’s the Festival du Film Francophone (the French-language movie festival).
Oh, and if you’re feeling energetic, then the Vienna marathon is usually in April, too (or just watch, if you’re feeling less energetic).
May sees the Fest der Freude, a free concert on Heldenplatz to celebrate the anniversary of the liberation of the city in WWII. The Wiener Symphoniker performs for free, again, at the end of May at the MQ open-air concert.
For more culture, try the Jewish and Vienna Shorts film festivals, the international flavour of the Südwind Street Festival, the Donaukanaltreiben riverside urban festival, or the Long Night of the Churches.
May also features the Genuss Festival, a three-day food and drink festival in the Stadtpark.
And talking food and drink, May actually has a whole host of related events: try the open day at the city-owned Cobenzl winery, the craft beer festival, the Burgenland Kultinarium, the Vienna Wine Fest, and the Vienna Beer Festival. And what goes well with a wine festival? Yep, the Vienna Cheese Festival (now postponed to August/September for 2019).
June starts with the military old-timer meet at On Wheels and Tracks and the summer equivalent of a Christmas market: the Steffl Kirtag. Two international music festivals also arrive in June – the Vienna Jazz Festival and the Donauinselfest. The latter is Europe’s largest free open-air festival.
And talking “free”, the Summer Night classical concert in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace takes place toward the end of the month.
July to September
The Jazz Festival usually extends into July, which also sees the Rathaus Film Festival in full throttle, with daily public viewings of concerts and performances from various genres of music on the square in front of the Rathaus. (The film festival carries on through August.)
If you enjoy a cocktail or three, then be sure to take in July’s Liquid Market cocktail festival.
August is the traditional month hosting the Waldviertelpur regional festival, when you can stuff yourself with specialities from one of Austria’s more rural regions.
There’s also the Vienna Old Timer Parade, when numerous classic cars parade around the Ring.
The food theme continues in September with the Vienna Harvest Festival (Erntedankfest), while those of a more alternative bent will enjoy the international Buskers Festival and the family-friendly Streetlife Festival.
The last Sunday in September is European Heritage Day, when various buildings open their doors to the public (for free).
And if you’re in need of a drink after all that, try the Rum and Gin festivals.
October to December
Mid-October is when the city celebrates a different type of music to the usual classics with Hollywood in Vienna.
The film theme continues later in the month with the prestigious international film festival, the Viennale.
November also marks the start of the Christmas season, notably the wonderful markets (and the modern equivalent – Winter at the MQ). End of November or early December is the Weihnachtsquartier design exhibition and market, too.
The markets continue through until December 25th, and often beyond in the form of New Year’s markets.