Inevitably, there are hundreds of events in Vienna. Local listings can be overwhelming, though, so here are the top annual events and festivals (my opinion – listed by month), plus whatever catches my eye in the moment:
Notable current events
It’s quietened down in February, as the city takes a breather between the peak tourism seasons. But…
- It’s still the Wiener Eistraum open-air skating season, where you can pirouette (or not) in front of the town hall and around the surrounding floodlit park
- My favourite exhibition at the moment is the brilliant Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty exhibition at the MAK on until March 31, 2019 (their Koloman Moser exhibition is pretty good, too)
- Just started at the Albertina: a rare outing for highlights of the Liechtenstein Princes’ art collections (until June 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. Look out, for example, for a production of Fidelio directed by Christoph Waltz.
Annual events and festivals
These should take place each year but do check the links in 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. (Discover more ideas for January).
February is very quiet, sandwiched innocently between the holiday season and spring. Little happens in the city, but here are some ideas for activities.
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.
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. The Argus Bike Festival usually takes place in late March or early April, followed by the Styrian Spring festival.
May sees the Fest der Freude, a free concert on Heldenplatz to celebrate the anniversary of the liberation of the city in WWII. The same month also features the Genuss Festival, a three-day food and drink festival in the Stadtpark.
Two international music festivals 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 start of the Rathaus Film Festival, 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.
August is also 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. Many people also celebrate New Year’s Eve in Vienna along the Silvesterpfad. The final two days of the year also feature the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year concert previews.