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)
- This coming Saturday (August 24) should see the marvellous parade of old timer vehicles around the ring
- The open-air Rathaus film festival continues through to September 1. And if the evening film isn’t to your taste, the open-air bars and restaurants filling the rest of the Rathausplatz square are worth a trip in their own right. Summer feeling in the centre
- Like beer? Ottakringer’s Festival of Beer Culture has rotating guest breweries, live music at weekends, and the kind of food that goes well with a…beer. Daily until August 28
- The 18-day Afrika Tage African festival continues until August 26, with food, music, shopping, and entertainment on the Danube Island.
- Look out for open-air cinema through August. For example in the Belvedere Palace privy garden with Kino im Kammergarten or in the garden of the Volkskundemuseum with the dotdotdot film festival
- There’s a new baby elephant at Schönbrunn Zoo (that counts as an event, right?). The latest info I have is that you can see mother and baby between the hours of 10am and 11am
Some art exhibitions I’ve really enjoyed:
- For a real rarity, try the Jan van Eyck exhibition at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. It’s only two rooms (on until October 20, 2019)
- The Arik Brauer exhibition at the Jewish Museum (also on until October 20, 2019). If you’re unfamiliar with the name, he’s a multi-talented artist with a rich life history and even richer artistic output
- I was strangely fascinated by the Vertigo exhibition at the MUMOK, which messes with your senses and leaves you reeling both literally and figuratively (until October 26, 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
- Another major art event begins on October 15, 2019, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum: works by Caravaggio, Bernini and their contemporaries in a first-of-its-kind exhibition
- 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, Feburary, 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 early 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, May, 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.
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).
The famous Summer Night classical concert in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace usually takes place toward the end of the month.
June starts with the military old-timer meet at On Wheels and Tracks, the Long Night of the Churches, 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.
July, August, 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, as does the smaller-scale Frameout open-air cinema season that begins in July. There’s international open-air cinema at Belvedere Palace, too, with their Kino im Kammergarten programme.
If you like a cocktail or three, then be sure to take in July’s Liquid Market cocktail festival. If mead’s more your thing, there’s the Montur & Pulverdampf medieval festival. And if beer is preferred, the Ottakringer Festival of Beer Culture is open daily all the way until the end of August.
There’s also the Vienna Old Timer Parade, when numerous classic cars parade around the Ring. And from classic to contemporary…early August has the Calle Libre street art festival. The cinematic summer continues with the dotdotdot festival.
August/September are the traditional months hosting the Waldviertelpur regional festival, when you can stuff yourself with specialities from one of Austria’s more rural regions.
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, the family-friendly Streetlife Festival, and the /slash film festival.
The last Sunday in September is European Heritage Day, when various historical buildings open their doors to the public (for free). The same concept applies at Open House Wien, but with a focus on newer constructions. And the modern flavour continues at the viennacontemporary art fair.
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.