Skip the black tie, evening gown or opera glasses for a change of musical pace. The Popfest Wien festival showcases the latest Austrian pop music. And it’s free.
- Four-day festival with open-air and indoor stages
- Dozens of acts and a supporting event programme
- Pop, hip hop, and similar genres dominate
- 2020 dates: TBA (July 25-28 in 2019)
- See also: The Buskers festival | Events in Vienna
Pop music from Austria
Vienna may be known for its classical concerts, but like any big city there’s a vibrant wider musical scene.
Each year, Popfest Wien brings the latest offerings from pop and related genres to the city on various stages in and around Vienna’s Karlsplatz square.
Popfest performers include established stars in the Austrian firmament as well as relative newcomers. The locations vary from a waterborne stage in front of the giant baroque Karlskirche church to the hallowed halls of a local university.
Various side events and activities accompany the music, too.
2020 Popfest highlights
This year’s festival only just finished, so I’ll post 2020 highlights in a few months, when programme details start escaping into the wild. Here’s a look back at 2019:
The lineup put together by Popfest curators (and musicians in their own right), Mira Lu Kovacs and Yasmin Hafedh, included a diverse mix of styles that took you on what they described as a “voyage of musical discovery”. Rap, soul, hip hop, R’n’B, punk, and other performances reflected Vienna’s diversity and multicultural character.
Around 70 acts performed live, including the winner of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. Tom Neuwirth (who won the contest performing as Conchita Wurst) debuted his new project, Wurst, on the opening Thursday.
Side events included musician Q&As, various talks and a vinyl market in the festival headquarters of the Wien Museum that looks out on to Karlsplatz.
2020 dates and tickets
Now approaching its 11th edition, the 2020 Popfest Wien should open end of July (concrete details TBA). The live acts typically begin each day from late afternoon and continue into the night.
It’s all completely free thanks to sponsors like (in 2019) the Wiener Städtische Versicherung (the same insurance folk who do the Ringturm exhibitions) and the Arbeiterkammer Wien (the representative organisation for Vienna’s employees).
How to get to Popfest WIen
Fortunately, Karlsplatz is not just a large open space for outdoor events. It also sits on top of one of the city’s main transport hubs – Karlsplatz station.
Subway: take the U1, U2 or U4 lines to Karlsplatz
Tram/bus: Take the 1, 2, D, 62 or 71 trams to Oper/Karlsplatz
Address: Karlsplatz, 1010 Vienna | Website